Volunteer

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Thank you for your interest in volunteering!  The Detroit Zoological Society recruits volunteers in the spring and fall each year. The minimum age to volunteer is 18 (15 for Volunteens) and volunteers do not come in direct contact with animal residents.

You can become a volunteer in just three easy steps:

  1. Complete an application. A confirmation will be sent to you verifying your enrollment in an orientation.
  2. Attend a two-part orientation. Orientation Part 1 is a general overview of our program focusing mainly on opportunities available at the Detroit Zoo. Part 2 is an overview of the Zoo’s educational mission, volunteer policies and procedures and information on emergency preparedness. Part 1 and 2 are mandatory and must be completed in sequence. You will also have the opportunity to sign up for an individual interview with a Volunteer Services staff member.
  3. Complete an interview. These 20-minute interviews help us in finding a good match between your interests and availability and our needs. You will also complete paperwork for a criminal background check at this time.
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  • Detroit Zoo – Volunteer Opportunities
    There are a number of volunteer opportunities at the Detroit Zoo. All of these positions will be described in further detail at Orientation Part 1.

     

    Docent

    Our most intensive training prepares these dedicated volunteers to be educators and interpreters at animal habitats throughout the Zoo. In addition, they provide tours and assist with a variety of educational programs both inside the Zoo and in the local community all year long. See Application Packet for full description (PDF).

    • Time commitment: 75 hours per year for a minimum of 2 years
    • Training: 14-week training course plus an online component and shadowing requirements, $60 course fee and $16 for uniform
    • Scheduling: Flexible, two-to-three-hour shifts
    • Availability: Year-round, 7 days per week

    Australian Outback Adventure “Mob Squad”

    Kangaroos, wallabies and emus call the Australian Outback Adventure home. In this popular Detroit Zoo attraction, guests are able to walk through the habitat and get a closer view of the animals. Volunteers called the "Mob Squad" interact with visitors along the winding pathway inside the habitat. Volunteers are critical to this experience and the habitat cannot be opened without a team of volunteers. See Application Packet for full description (PDF).

    • Time commitment: 50 hours between April and October or 75 hours for calendar year
    • Training: one 3.5-hour training course plus online component; $10 course fee and $24 uniform
    • Scheduling: Flexible, two-to-three-hour shifts
    • Availability: Year-round or seasonal, 7 days per week

    Gallery Guide

    These volunteers are based in the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery and spend their time talking about butterflies. A special projection system called Science On a Sphere and a permanent art collection are also housed in this building and volunteers also interact with guests in these areas. See Application Packet for full description (PDF).

    • Time commitment: 50 hours per calendar year
    • Training: one 3-hour training course plus an online component; $10 course fee and $16 uniform
    • Scheduling: Flexible, three-to-four-hour shifts
    • Availability: Year-round, 7 days per week

    Special Events

    Throughout the year, the Zoo offers fun and interesting themed events to encourage guests to visit. These events could not happen without the helping hands and smiling faces of Zoo volunteers. From temporary tattoos to craft assistants, story readers to wine pourers, costume wearers to registration helpers, each event has its wish list of specialized assistance. This is a terrific way to be involved with the Zoo without a big commitment of time. See Application Packet for full description (PDF).

    • Time commitment: 20 hours per calendar year
    • Training: on-the-job; $16 uniform
    • Scheduling: Flexible, events are day and evening, weekdays and weekends
    • Availability: Year-round, 7 days per week

    Zoo Ambassador

    This is the ultimate "people person" position. Spend half of a three-hour shift greeting guests as they enter the Zoo, helping them get oriented to the map, the facilities and any special events. The rest of the time is spent walking the Zoo looking for ways to help guests. See Application Packet for full description (PDF).

    • Time commitment: 50 hours between April and October
    • Training: one six-hour course plus online component; $10 course fee and $16 uniform
    • Scheduling: Flexible, three-to-four-hour shifts
    • Availability: Seasonal, April-October, 7 days per week

    Arctic Ring of Life Guest Assistant

    This is one of the most critical positions in the Zoo. While helping with crowd control in the busy Frederick and Barbara Erb Polar Passage, these volunteers enjoy quality time with the polar bear and seal residents of this award-winning habitat. See Application Packet for full description (PDF).

    • Time commitment: 50 hours between April and October
    • Training: one three-and-a-half-hour course plus online component; $10 course fee and $16 uniform
    • Scheduling: Flexible, three-hour shift
    • Availability: Seasonal, April-October, 7 days per week

    Greeter

    Greeters assist primarily in two locations: Ford Education Center Exhibit Hall and Science On a Sphere. Greeters provide a friendly invitation to guests to come in and view these exhibits/shows. Seasonal greeters are also needed at the National Amphibian Conservation Center. See Application Packet for full description (PDF).

    • Time commitment: 20 hours per calendar year
    • Training: one 1-hour training for Science On a Sphere and on-the-job training for Ford Education Center and seasonal greeters; $16 uniform
    • Scheduling: Flexible, two-to-three-hour shifts
    • Availability: Varies, 7 days per week

    Staff Aide

    Clerical skills, phone experience and weekday availability on a regular schedule would be assets to volunteers interested in offering their services in this program. Short-term as well as long-term projects may be available. See Application Packet for full description (PDF).

    • Time commitment: 20 hours per calendar year
    • Training: On-the-job; $16 uniform
    • Scheduling: Flexible, depends on the project
    • Availability: Varies, weekdays

    Belle Isle Nature Zoo “BINZ Brigade

    The BINZ Brigade is a group of dedicated individuals who have a particular connection to Belle Isle as well as the mission of “bringing the wilds of Michigan to the heart of Detroit”. Volunteers assist the staff with projects, greet visitors and help with public feedings at the Deer Encounter. They also answer questions about the frogs, toads, turtles, bees and fish that can be seen in the facility. See Application Packet for full description (PDF).

    • Time commitment: 20 hours per calendar year
    • Training: Individual orientation and job shadowing; $16 uniform
    • Scheduling: Flexible, three-to-four-hour shifts
    • Availability: Year-round (Wednesday-Sunday)

    Volunteen Counselor-in-Training Program

    Counselor-in Training program matches teen volunteers ages 16 and 17 with paid camp counselors to assist during the Zoo’s Summer Safari Camp. Responsibilities include assisting with groups of 10-12 youth (Kindergarten-8th grade) on tours throughout the Zoo, administering craft projects and interacting with staff and guests. Camp is held Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and is held mainly outdoors.  Application deadline is April 30, 2016.

    • Time commitment: Two full weeks of camp between June and August 2016
    • Training: Saturday, June 18, 1-4 p.m. or Tuesday, June 21, 4-7 p.m.
    • Scheduling: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday for a minimum of two weeks
    • Availability: Between June and August 2016
    • Application deadline: April 30, 2016

    Volunteen Zoo Corps Program

    The Detroit Zoological Society is looking for energetic youth ages 15-17 to be part of our Zoo Corps, the latest expansion of our Volunteen program. This is an opportunity to earn community service hours while working with a team from the Education Department at the Detroit Zoo.  This program is taking place on selected dates and times in the June-October period.  Application deadline is April 1, 2016.

    • Time commitment: 20 hours
    • Training: Saturday, May 14, 1-4 p.m.
    • Availability: Between June and October 2016
    • Application deadline: April 15, 2016
  • Belle Isle Nature Zoo — Volunteer Opportunities

    The BINZ Brigade is a group of dedicated individuals who have a particular connection to Belle Isle as well as the mission of “bringing the wilds of Michigan to the heart of Detroit” at the Belle Isle Nature Zoo (BINZ). Volunteers assist the staff with projects, greet visitors and help with public feedings at the Deer Encounter. Monthly themed programs with a craft activity, snacks and guest speaker educate families and school children and many other special events are scheduled throughout the year. They also answer questions about the frogs, toads, turtles, bees and fish that can be seen in the facility.  See Application Packet for full description (PDF).

    • Time commitment: 20 hours per calendar year
    • Training: individual orientation and job shadowing; $16 uniform
    • Scheduling: Flexible, 3-4 hour shifts
    • Availability: Year-round (Wednesday-Sunday)

    Weekend shifts are available year-round; daily shifts occur mid-June through Labor Day.

    There are three steps to becoming a volunteer at the BINZ:

    • Attend BINZ Volunteer Orientation
    • Complete an interview with Volunteer Services staff member.
    • Shadow a current BINZ volunteer.

    BINZ Volunteer Orientations are held at the Belle Isle Nature Zoo Auditorium.

  • Volunteer Orientation Dates

    Orientation Part 1

    • Saturday, September 10, 9-11:30 a.m.

    Orientation Part 2

    • Saturday, September 10, 12:30-3:30 p.m.
  • Volunteering Video

  • Diversity Statement
    To be a great organization means that we are diverse and that we value diversity. The Detroit Zoological Society is not only dedicated to the natural world of biodiversity, but also to the diversity of our organization and community. Diversity is defined as all the ways that we are similar and different; the differences make us each unique, but it is in recognizing and valuing our differences that we learn to value each other.