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Volunteering at John Ball Zoo

General Information

What do John Ball Zoo Volunteers do? We have more than 200 volunteers who ‘work’ in a variety of capacities – educating visitors, assisting animal care staff, caring for the gardens, assisting at special events and more. We offer training in Spring, late Summer and early Winter. We ask volunteers to give us 75 hours of service each year.
Want to know more?  Come to an information session where we will tell you about all our volunteer opportunities, requirements, training, etc. These are on the 3rd Sunday of each month at 2:00 pm in the Ball Room which is on the upper level of the Zoo’s Administration Building – the big red brick building with the green awning out in the Park. RSVP's, although helpful but not mandatory, can be made to (616)336-4317, volunteers@jbzoo.org..

To become a volunteer you will need to attend one of the above information sessions, fill in and submit electronically an application, interview with the volunteer manager, successfully complete the required background checks and attend the necessary training session(s).

More general information about our volunteer programs can be found at the following links:

Volunteer Basics brochure
Expectations of the Volunteer Program

Teen Volunteer Program

Are you interested in interacting with and teaching visitors while expanding your public speaking skills? Share your love of the JBZ animals with our visitors and join us in a teen program this summer! Teen volunteers help promote vitally important wildlife and conservation messages. Using a team approach to deliver the zoo's mission to thousands of visitors, their contributions and impact are significant. Through interacting with visitors, teaching youth and caring for our animals Teen Volunteers gain knowledge and skills in a dynamic learning environment.

We look for teens who will be entering 9th - 12th grade in fall and who have a passion for carrying out the education and conservation mission of the Zoo. If you are ready for a unique "hands-on" work experience click Teen Volunteer Information below to learn more!

The 2015 online application is closed for the season.

Want more information?
Teen Volunteer Information
Teen Volunteer Brochure

After reading our Teen Volunteer Information if you still have questions please email Volunteers@JBZoo.org.

Ambassadors (AKA Docents)

Ambassadors (aka docents) help the Zoo serve its conservation and education mission by interacting with our guests informing them of the wonders of wildlife and about the animals in our collection. Mostly this is done through:
• Tours for school groups
• Discover Carts
• Exhibit Interpretations – Critter Chats
• Summer Interactive Exhibits of Rays, Budgies, Wallabies, Pygmy Goats and Red’s Hobby Farm
• Special Events

Training classes are offered in the spring and summer.

Click here for an informational brochure on the various educational programs facilitated by our team of adult volunteers! See above for when we offer informational sessions that can answer your questions about our Ambassador program.

Animal Care Team

Are you 18 years of age or older and have an interest in working with animals or in an animal-related career? Then the Animal Care Team may be just right for you! This volunteer program allows you to experience what it takes to care for the animals here at John Ball Zoo. From shoveling animal waste and cleaning animal viewing areas to preparing diets the animal care team is a wonderful opportunity for those who are passionate about caring for animals. Openings are limited by schedules and staff needs. Shifts are 2 hours minimum and must be regular and consistent, i.e., every week at the same time.

Click here for more information on the animal care program. See above for when we offer informational sessions that can answer your questions about our Animal Care Team.

Animal Care training classes are typically offered in spring, early summer and the fall.

Volunteer Divers

Are you 21 years of age and SCUBA certified with at least 15 logged dives?
Volunteer Divers assist in cleaning and maintaining exhibits, preparing food for and feeding exhibit animals and assist the animal care staff in the Living Shores Aquarium.

Click here for an informational brochure!

Applications for this program are received continually. Placements are made when there is an opening in the program.

For information about certification, requirements, etc., you may contact Tim Sampson, tsampson@jbzoo.org, 336-4301 ext 8004.
To apply, please see below for the application link. Contact Jim Swarts, Volunteer Manager, jswarts@jbzoo.org or (616)336-4317

Park Volunteers

These volunteers offer services and activities in the park and gardens such as planting, raking, weeding, parking, trail work, greeting visitors, etc. The work of Park volunteers is seasonal. Park Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. You can set your own schedule for when you want to help in the Park.
Click here for more information.
You may also call 616 336-4317 or email volunteers@jbzoo.org.

Service Groups

If you have a group of people who want an activity to build teamwork, give back to the community or just like being outside, we may have an opportunity for you. You could help with grounds work or possibly special events. This opportunity is a way for school groups, fraternities/sororities, civic organizations, or corporations to have a Zoo experience.

Click here for more information on this program. You may also contact us at 616 336-4317 or volunteers@jbzoo.org.

Adult Volunteer Application

Click here to complete an Adult Volunteer Application on line.