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Volunteers offer invaluable support to the Smithsonian National Zoo's two facilities-the main Washington D.C.campus,and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia; providing over 90,000 hours of service each year. There are fun and exciting opportunities for all interests whether they be working with the public or behind the scenes, plants and animals, independently and in groups, or on weekdays and weekends.

Volunteers are exposed to amazing learning opportunities while helping the Zoo with fun education and conservation activities! Find out about benefits of volunteering.

Current Needs

Find out about our one-of-a-kind projects and activities and other terrific opportunities on the Currently Recruiting For... page.

Requirements

Time Commitment: Most volunteer programs require a year's commitment due to the extensive training required. Keeper aides are required to do one full-day or one half-day a week for the year and other programs including education interpreters have a required number of shifts per month. Please see the position posting for information on requirements for that particular program.

* Short-term opportunities are available assisting with our special events and office projects as they arise

Age Requirement: You must be at least 18 years old to apply for most positions including keeper aide, behavior watcher, education interpreter, and several special events.

*Although most volunteers must be at least 18 years old, we do offer a program for younger teens aged 13 and up during the summer months. An interest in animals and their conservation is a must.

 

Recruitment: Each program has an application and interview process. Once accepted, full-time volunteers must pass a Smithsonian background check, complete initial training, become a FONZ member in their first year of volunteering (volunteers receive a 25% discount on FONZ memberships), and pay the orientation/training fee.*

* Current Fees are $20 for Zoo Help Positions and $30 for Education/Behavior Watch Positions (includes volunteer shirt and namebadge). Options are available for individuals for whom the fees and membership may not be manageable, please speak to the contact person listed for the position you are interested in for available options.

Volunteer Programs

Washington, D.C. Programs

Our numerous volunteer programs at the Zoo's main campus in D.C. fall into these four categories:

  • Education—Exhibit education interpreters and tour guides
  • Zoo Support—Behavior watch, keeper aide, horticulture, and more
  • Special Events—ZooFari, Boo at the Zoo, and more
  • Teen Volunteers—FONZ Summer camp class aides
  • Group Volunteers-horticulture, zoo clean-up, special events, and more

Questions? Please call 202.633.3025 or email us.

Front Royal, Virginia, Programs

Our volunteer programs at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (formerly known as the Conservation and Research Center) in Front Royal, Virginia, fall into these two areas:

  • Education—tour guides, outreach help, lecture series assistant
  • Support—keeper aides, ecology assistant, office support

Please read about our programs and then fill out this form to let us know which program(s) you're interested in. You will be contacted as soon as the program supervisors are ready to schedule an interview. This form is for positions in Front Royal, Virginia only.

Questions? Under 18 and interested in volunteering at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia? Please call the the SCBI education office at 540.635.6540 or email us.