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FONZ Offers an Abundance of Educational Experiences Through Its Volunteer Program

Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) is seeking volunteers with an interest in animals and their conservation to assist with upcoming events, games, projects and keeper needs. Volunteers offer invaluable support to the Zoo—they work with staff, visitors, animals, plants, independently and in groups, on weekdays and weekends. They learn, help the Zoo with education and conservation activities and have fun. Responsibilities vary, and they are all important.

Although most volunteers must be at least 18 years old, the Zoo offers several programs for younger teens. Those who wish to participate should be in good health, have stamina for walking hilly terrain and must be able to work outside in all weather. FONZ recommends that volunteers with people skills who enjoy working with a multitude of visitors work during an event.

  • Guppy Gala, an annual event taking place May 14, offers families exciting animal encounters, good food and a variety of kid-friendly activities. Volunteers 15 years of age and older are needed to help staff arcade games, soda stands, a rock-climbing wall, obstacles courses and more.
  • ZooFari has been called D.C.’s “foodie event of the year,” and the lineup for 2010 features more than 100 of the area’s finest restaurants. Add fine wines, fabulous entertainment, animal demonstrations, and a great silent auction, all in the wild setting of the National Zoo, and you have the recipe for a delicious evening. Volunteers 21 years of age and older are needed to help staff with a variety of activities such as taking tickets, acting as a silent auction monitor or a table monitor, and more. Dinner will be provided in the Mane Restaurant for staff and volunteers working ZooFari. Please note this meal does not include sampling of special event food/drink.
  • A one-of-a-kind interactive alternative reality game (ARG) needs volunteers who enjoy talking with a wide variety of people and acting. Groups will use their cell phones to move around the Zoo to answer questions and help save the Pygmy Dragon Panda, a make-believe species. Volunteers 15 years of age and older are needed for a variety of roles, ranging from handing out clues to role-playing a scientist.
  • English as well as bilingual speakers (native Spanish and English) are needed to help the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center transcribe several recorded records on shade-grown coffee. Volunteers 18 years of age and older must have good attention to detail and access to an MP3 player or iTunes and a computer.
  • Kids’ Farm is recruiting volunteers to help keepers and other animal care staff in the Caring Corral—a place where children and animals can interact—maintain exhibits and clean. Volunteers 18 years of age and older will work with several domestic animal species, including miniature donkeys, Holstein and Hereford cattle, Ossabaw Island hogs, alpacas, Nubian goats and Nigerian dwarf goats.