Volunteer Program

Birds

Getting
Involved
Is Just the
Beginning

You don’t have to be an oceanographer or an animal expert—everyone's welcome! If you meet the age requirement and are able to commit for at least one year, Aquarium staff will train you to do the rest!

If you are interested in a shorter commitment in a service-related program, click here.

Volunteers help run every aspect of the Aquarium with skill, enthusiasm, dedication, and good humor. If you love to learn, enjoy talking to people, and want to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, you will be a great volunteer!

Volunteer Benefits

  • Smiles and thanks from visitors from all over the world
  • Free parking while volunteering
  • Professional training
  • Membership privileges
  • Gift shop and cafe discounts
  • Social events and opportunities
  • Learning, laughter, wonder, and excitement (unlimited!)

Volunteer Positions at the National Aquarium, Baltimore

Stimulating training courses teach you everything you need to know to do a top-notch job. From front-line ambassador to fish feeder, below is the ocean of options:

Exhibit Guides

Exhibit guides love the excitement of working on the front line while explaining and interpreting exhibits to visitors. After training, they are experts on the animals and their habitats, and they inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures.

Requirements

Exhibit guides are:

  • Keenly interested in biology, animals and their habitats, and conservation
  • Enthusiastic and eager to engage international and hometown visitors.

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of training sessions and a written test on Aquarium information, biology, and teaching techniques, exhibit guides commit to working at least one 3.5-hour shift each week for a year.

Information Specialists

As front-line ambassadors to the public, information desk specialists welcome visitors and answer questions in the Aquarium and on the phone. They strive to engage and delight all visitors. They distribute route guides and answer questions about exhibits, show times, operating hours, membership privileges, Aquarium facilities, Inner Harbor shops and restaurants, and other Baltimore attractions. They enjoy meeting the public and are able to assist visitors with problems and concerns.

Requirements

Information specialists are:

  • Friendly, energetic, enthusiastic, and patient
  • Interested in the Aquarium, the Inner Harbor, and the Baltimore area
  • Enthusiastic and interested in making every visitor's experience exceed expectations.

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of training sessions, apprenticeships, and a written test, information specialists commit to working at least one 3.5-hour shift each week for a year.

Animal Programs Assistant

Animal Programs Assistants share the best of two worlds – caring for exotic birds and reptiles and speaking with Aquarium visitors about them.

A volunteer with Animal Programs works behind the scenes preparing the diets for, cleaning the enclosures of, and feeding reptiles and birds of varying sizes; as well as participating in their bathing, exercise, and environment enrichment. A volunteer also assists staff with the public presentation of these animals during daily scheduled encounters.

Requirements

Applicants with previous animal care experience, especially with birds and/or reptiles are preferred. Animal Programs Assistants are:

  • Enthusiastic, reliable, and team-oriented
  • Able to lift 50 pounds
  • Adept at following established rules, safety procedures, and assigned tasks
  • Comfortable working around large birds and reptiles
  • 18 years of age or older

Training and Commitment

Upon acceptance, Animal Programs Assistants must participate in a general volunteer training, orientation and on-the-job training. A volunteer must commit to a weekly shift: morning (8:00am-12:00pm) or afternoon (1:00pm-4:00pm) for at least a year.

Certified Divers

Volunteer divers are depended upon not only to maintain three major aquarium exhibits but to prepare the diets and feed many of the animals with which they’ll be diving. A diver also serves as an underwater liaison between our visitors and collection animals through personal interactions and public talks.

Upon successful completion of written and in-water recruitment testing processes, a volunteer diver is first called upon to serve on one of four Dolphin Discovery dive teams. In this program, a diver is responsible for maintaining the dolphin pools in our amphitheater, using an underwater scrubber and vacuum. When openings occur on our Blue Wonders dive teams, divers are selected from the Dolphin Discovery program to dive in our Atlantic Coral Reef and Blacktip Reef exhibits.

Requirements

All volunteer dive applicants must be 18 years of age or older and satisfy both of the following prerequisites:

  • Possess a SCUBA certification of Advanced Open Water or higher
  • Proof of at least 30 logged dives

Training and Commitment

Volunteer divers will be trained in safely performing the tasks necessary for their program and required to attend general volunteer orientation and training. Divers must commit to work:

  • Dolphin Discovery program – one four-hour shift (7:30am-11:30am) every other week on a Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday team
  • Blue Wonders: Reefs to Rainforests program – one eight-hour shift (8:30am-4:30pm) every other week on one of 14 teams

Aquarist Assistants

If you love fish and are looking to get wet and just a little bit dirty, aquarist assistant is the volunteer position for you!

Aquarist assistants work behind the scenes, handling insects, fish, shrimp, and squid for the feeding of the Aquarium’s animals; recording dietary data; maintaining freshwater and saltwater exhibits; using power filters; and joining in on occasional special projects. Aquarist volunteers may be found working with many of the exhibits in the Main Building, as well as Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes, Jellies Invasion, and our Animal Care Center in Fells Point.

Requirements

Only applicants with previous fish and invertebrate animal care experience or related academic background will be considered. Aquarist assistants are:

  • Enthusiastic and committed
  • Able to climb on top of tanks
  • Capable of lifting a 35-pound bag of gravel.

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of training classes and a written test, volunteers commit to working at least one four-hour morning shift (8 a.m.–12 p.m.) every other week for a year.

Aviculture Assistants

Aviculture assistants care for the exotic birds in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest and Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibits. While working, they sometimes speak with visitors about the animals.

Observing animals is an important service of aviculture assistants. They assist with the daily collection, preparation, and distribution of food for the birds, adhering to strict dietary guidelines. They also help to maintain exhibits and behind-the-scenes housing.

Requirements

A basic knowledge of bird nutrition and physiology and a willingness to learn how to identify individual species and assess their nutritional needs is indispensable. Aviculture assistants are:

  • Able to follow recipes and handle bugs
  • Able to climb on rock ledges in a hot, humid environment
  • Capable of lifting a 35-pound bag of grain.

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of training classes and a written test, aviculture assistants commit to working one four-hour morning shift (7:30–11:30 a.m.) every other week for a year.

Herpetology Assistants

Herpetology assistants have the rare opportunity to work with neo-tropical frogs and lizards in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest and Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibits, as well as our Animal Care Center in Fells Point.

Herpetology assistants design and create live terrariums, feed frogs, turtles and lizards, and maintain food colonies. Additional responsibilities include animal observation and maintenance of exhibit and off-exhibit animal rooms.

Requirements

A basic knowledge of the care of reptiles and amphibians is valuable. Similarly, shop skills are desirable but not essential. Herpetology assistants are:

  • Willing to work in a hot, humid environment
  • Able to handle small, delicate frogs; lizards; and live food
  • Enthusiastic about caring for reptiles and amphibians
  • Capable of lifting 35-pound terrariums.

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of training classes and a written test, herpetology assistants commit to working at least one four-hour morning shift (8 a.m.–12 p.m.) every other week for a year.

Horticulture Assistants

Horticulture assistants get wet and occasionally dirty, but they work when the Upland Tropical Rain Forest and Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibits are at their liveliest—before they open to the public.

Watering, fertilizing, inspecting plants, caring for seedlings, controlling pests, and cleaning the exhibit and backup area are the most important jobs of a horticulture assistant.

Requirements

Horticulture assistants have a basic knowledge of plants and learn about daily needs of plant specimens. Volunteers are:

  • Able to climb on rock ledges in a hot, humid environment
  • Enthusiastic about caring for plants.

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of training classes and a written test, horticulture assistants commit to working at least one 2.5-hour shift (7:30–10 a.m.) in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest or one four-hour shift (8 a.m.–12 p.m.) in Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes every other week for a year.

Volunteer Commitment and Application

To apply for a volunteer position, please review the following criteria. If you can agree to all of the below, click the "I Agree" button to access the online application.

  • I am at least 18 years old and out of high school.
  • I can make at least a one-year commitment.
  • I will attend orientation, training sessions, and team meetings.
  • I will be dependable and will adhere to Aquarium policies.
  • I am willing to purchase my first uniform shirt and the Volunteer Resource Manual.

I Agree

If you are looking for paid job opportunities, apply here instead.

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Contact Us

Questions about volunteering? Call the Volunteer Office at 410-576-3886 or e-mail volunteer@aqua.org