If selected for the program, Volunteens may serve in these areas:
1. Exhibit Interpretation
Volunteens make up the bulk of their volunteer hours as Exhibit Interpreters. Volunteens receive training on animal habitats in their first year of the Volunteen Program. Some animal trainings change from year to year, while others stay in the rotation as beloved favorites throughout the years! Volunteens learn animal information directly from our animal care and education staff during Why Zoos Matter training and through use of the Volunteen Training Book. Exhibit Interpreters share biological information and stories about the animals, as well as conservation messages, with the Zoo’s guests. Volunteens not only inspire our guests to understand the purpose of zoos and become involved in animal conservation, but Volunteens also gain public speaking practice and skills! Exhibit Interpretation shifts are offered every day the Zoo is open, with two shifts per day: 9:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
2. Public Events
Public Events also make up a significant portion of Volunteens’ yearly hour commitment. Volunteens run themed educational activities at the Zoo’s events. Some of our Volunteens’ favorite events are Endangered Species Day, Play the Animal Way, and Boo at the Zoo! The activities run by Volunteens vary with the event and change from year-to-year, but Volunteens can always expect to engage with guests of all ages and to take part in the fun on these special days to support the mission of Zoo Atlanta. Public Event Assistant shifts are offered at varying times, and Zoo Atlanta has many public events throughout the year.
3. Safari Camp
Zoo Atlanta’s Safari Camp is another service area in which Volunteens contribute many volunteer hours. As Safari Camp Assistants, Volunteens aid Camp Counselors throughout the week of Camp during summer break and other school breaks throughout the year. Safari Camp Assistants learn about science education and form mentorship relationships with Safari Camp staff. Volunteens engage campers in fun games and hands-on activities about animals at Zoo Atlanta, help campers with their projects and presentations, and are sure to have a great time with the kids and counselors! Safari Camp shifts are offered every day Safari Camp is run, and shifts are from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
4. Zoo’s Clues
Volunteens challenge the Zoo’s guests to solve a monthly mystery by running the Zoo’s Clues booth by Jessica’s Pride as guests enter the Zoo. Volunteens explain the game, provide clue sheets, and stamp badges of guests who correctly solve the month’s mystery. This service option is offered on Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
At Enrichment Team meetings, Volunteens work alongside Docents and Adult Volunteers to build enrichment items for the animals. Enrichment is the dynamic process of enhancing animal environments within the context of the animals’ behavioral biology and natural histories. Enrichment includes activities, objects, foods, experiences and more that encourage natural behaviors and responses. This service option is offered on one Saturday and one Sunday per month from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Horticulture Team meets once every other month, and Volunteens work with Docents and Adult Volunteers on a variety of tasks such as spreading mulch, removing weeds, and laying pine straw. Though this service option occurs less frequently, it’s certainly an opportunity to literally get your hands dirty! This service option is offered one weekend day every other month from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
7. Creative Memoir
Creative Memoir Team is for students who have an interest or talent in photography, videography and other media. These Volunteens capture other Volunteens in action during events or on regular weekend days! Photos and videos may be used in PowerPoints, Volunteen Training Books, and more. This service option is offered on an as-needed basis (most weekends and events).
8. Interviews/ Orientation/ Training Assistants (Education Programs Assistant)
As Education Assistants, Volunteens promote their program and speak to potential new Volunteens about their own experience and the benefits of the Volunteen Program by presenting and engaging with peers at Volunteen Preview Night, Interviews and Orientations. Every June, Volunteens can help with their favorite event of all: the annual week-long Why Zoos Matter Training! These shifts are offered on an as-needed basis.
9. Social Events
The Volunteen Program hosts Social Events and Educational Field Trips throughout the year to encourage Volunteens to form new friendships, receive recognition for their volunteer service, and to connect to other Volunteens and the mission of Zoo Atlanta. These events may include deeper learning opportunities on subjects of interest to Volunteens presented by Zoo Atlanta staff, visits to other nonprofit conservation organizations in or around Atlanta, or simply a time to just hang out with other Volunteens and have fun! By attending these events, Volunteens strengthen their social skills and foster their personal development. These events are offered at least once per semester.
9. Résumé and Cover Letter Help Desks/Field Trips (Professional Development)
As Zoo Atlanta Volunteers, Volunteens gain job-readiness skills and preparation for college. Volunteens gain interview practice, meet potential references, and attend professional development workshops offered throughout the year. Volunteens learn professionalism through interactions with Zoo Atlanta staff, visits to off-site facilities, and presentations from guest speakers and by attending workshops to polish their résumés and cover letters, which are required for Volunteen reapplications. These events are offered multiple times per semester, predominantly on weekend days.
10. Petting Zoo Husbandry Aides **second year or older only
Volunteens may be chosen to serve as Husbandry Aides to our Petting Zoo Team after completing required training. In this advanced service area, Volunteens benefit personally and professionally from evaluations and feedback given by animal care staff and from the mentor relationships formed with these positive role models. This service option is offered every Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
11. Animal Nutrition Kitchen (AKA Diet Prep.) **second year or older only
Volunteens who return to the program for an additional year(s) are eligible to volunteer in the Animal Nutrition Kitchen. In the kitchen, Volunteens may work with Adult Volunteers and Zoo Atlanta staff to prepare diets for the animal population. This service option is offered every day the Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
12. Public Program Assistants **second year or older only
Volunteens who return to the program for an additional year(s) are eligible to volunteer with the Public Programs Team in the Zoo’s Education Department! As Public Programs Assistants, Volunteens assist with programs hosted in the Zoo that day. This service option is offered on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.