Dickerson Park Zoo offers programs for adults and teens to share their passion for wildlife with zoo guests. Click on the links below for more information.
Interested in volunteering at Dickerson Park Zoo? Applications for the 2016 season will be available soon.
2015 Docent volunteer description
Docents assist Friends of the Zoo’s Conservation Education Department staff in several capacities on the zoo grounds and in the community with outreach programming. These “volunteer teachers” share their knowledge of the zoo and support the zoo’s conservation education mission. Docents may be stationed on the zoo grounds to enhance our guests’ zoo visit and help make a connection to nature. Docents may also become an educator in our outreach programming for schools and organizations or assist with Z.E.B.R.A. classes.
Adults age 18 and older who are seeking a degree or career with animals or who like working with animals and interacting with people of all ages are invited to join this committed group of volunteers. No experience is necessary. However, you must be available for all of the required training dates in 2015.
Volunteers pay a $35 fee upon acceptance into the program. Yearly background checks are required. The initial background check is included in the $35 fee. (The fee in subsequent years will be waived upon meeting the 50-hour volunteer time requirement.) Volunteers must adhere to the dress code as stated in the Volunteer Manual. The $35 initial fee covers the cost of one uniform shirt. You may purchase additional shirts if necessary.
Minimum time commitments and training vary with the position, and some docent positions are limited in availability. Volunteering as a docent involves lifting, carrying and walking somewhat strenuous distances with crated animals and biofacts.
Fifty service hours per year are required to be an active docent. In return for their dedication of time and talent, volunteers receive numerous benefits: free zoo admission, a discount in the Safari Trading Company gift shop and employee prices on food at the Bush Country Café. Active volunteers are invited to the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. Volunteers are also eligible for Friends of the Zoo memberships based on their total service hours for the year. In addition, awards for cumulative hours are given. Volunteers who give 250 hours of time and at least five years of service are honored with a name plaque on the Volunteer Wall of Honor.
Zoo Ambassadors are enthusiastic, people-oriented volunteers who supplement zoo staffing and interact with guests during events and throughout the summer season. When the zoo hosts an event, it is almost entirely staffed by volunteers. During events, Zoo Ambassadors assist at admissions, sell or serve concessions and staff activity areas. Throughout the main season, Ambassadors also help host after-hours company picnics and assist zoo staff by monitoring animal feeding stations, selling tickets at the train station, selling Friends of the Zoo memberships and interacting with guests.
The Zoo Ambassador program is open to anyone 18 and older. For some events, volunteers must be 21 years old. Most events are on Saturdays, with a few on weekday evenings or Sunday. Volunteering as an Ambassador involves walking throughout the zoo grounds and other physical tasks appropriate to the event or activity.
Thirty-six service hours per year are required to be an active Zoo Ambassador. In return for their dedication of time and talent, Volunteers receive numerous benefits: free zoo admission, a discount in the Safari Trading Company gift shop and employee prices on food at the Bush Country Café. Active volunteers are invited to the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. Volunteers are also eligible for Friends of the Zoo memberships based on their total service hours for the year. In addition, awards for cumulative hours are given. Volunteers who give 250 hours of time and at least five years of service are honored with a name plaque on the Volunteer Wall of Honor.
Youth Volunteer Opportunities
Venturing is a youth development program of the Boy Scouts of America. This program is open to males and females who are 13-20 years old and have completed the eighth grade. Venturing at Dickerson Park Zoo will provide fun and enriching experiences to young people by gaining an understanding of the husbandry of exotic animals. The Venture Crew assists zookeepers with daily animal feedings and exhibit cleaning. In addition, we envision this crew taking on the critical role of implementing the zoo’s animal enrichment program. This will include research, development, observation and data entry.
Read more about the Zoo Venture Crew. The informational meeting/orientation is Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the Boy Scouts of America Ozark Trails Council office, 1616 S. Eastgate in Springfield.
ZooTEENS assist Friends of the Zoo’s Education Department in several capacities. ZooTEENS are trained as volunteer teachers to share their knowledge of the natural world through the use of biofacts and up-close animal encounters. As volunteer teachers, ZooTEENS assist education staff with summer ZEBRA classes. ZooTEENS may also assist the education zookeeper with husbandry duties and other zookeepers with behavioral observations.
Note for 2015: Because of the number of volunteers involved in ZooTEENS, we will not be accepting new volunteers this year. Watch for information coming soon about the 2016 program.