Greensboro Science Center

Zoo Docent

About the Program

Do you like science, animals, and people? Are you at least 15 years old? If so, consider applying for our zoo docent program. Our zoo features Javan gibbons, meerkats, our Friendly Farm animals, small birds and mammals, and much more! On June 3, 2021, we also added cassowaries, okapi, pygmy hippos, flamingos, black-footed cats, sand cats, and servals as we open our zoo expansion, Revolution Ridge. Being a docent requires good people skills, a love of animals, and the ability to retain information. You’ll interact with our visitors during every shift and contribute to their positive experiences here at the Science Center. You’ll share important conservation messages with our guests, an essential part of how we meet our mission to inspire scientific curiosity and encourage personal discovery about life and the natural world.

Applications will be open annually
February 1-15
August 1-15

Applicants are only eligible to apply for either the Aquarium or the Zoo Docent program. Opportunities to cross-train will be available.

We open applications based on volunteer openings and staff availability to facilitate the onboarding process.

Who can apply?

  • Applicants must be age 15 by the date of the submitted application. 
  • Applicants who are over age 18 must pass a background check after application acceptance.
  • Applicants must be available to volunteer at least 6 hours a month.
  • Applicants must commit to volunteer for at least 6 months after training.

What are the steps to becoming a zoo docent?

  1. Apply when applications are open. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. Our staff will review your application and will email you to set up an interview.
  2. Schedule and complete an interview within a month of submitting your application.
  3. Successfully pass a background check for those ages 18+.
  4. Complete an onsite training. Training courses will help you learn about GSC history, policies, and procedures, as well as GSC animals. 
  5. Submit a packet of volunteer forms and pay your volunteer fee ($10.00) to cover the cost of your name tag, volunteer t-shirt, and background check (if 18+).
  6. Complete at least one trainee shift (more can be requested by you or suggested by GSC staff).
  7. Begin volunteering for solo shifts.

Frequently Asked Questions

A docent is a volunteer educator. Docents are a visible part of the GSC team and interact directly with our visitors every day. Docents have two main responsibilities: monitoring exhibit areas for safety and talking about important conservation messages related to our animals at each exhibit. Our docents are proactive ambassadors for the animals who call the GSC home. They are excited to learn about our collection and share their knowledge with others.

Yes, but not in the way you might think. Zoo docents do not have direct contact with animals other than the Hands-on Harbor touch tank. Touching protocols for volunteers are the same as those for our guests. Animal care—including feeding, training, cleaning exhibits, etc.—is handled exclusively by professional staff. Instead, docents serve as animal educators by teaching our visitors about the animals in the zoo and answering questions. Docents do, however, learn about typical behaviors of our animals and are often the first to point out any irregularities to our staff. Our docents are our eyes and ears!

Docents are expected to volunteer a minimum of six hours per month for at least three months. The shifts are split up into two-hour shifts. The shifts are from 10:00-12:00, 12:00-2:00 and 2:00-4:00. There are no shifts after 5:00 unless we have a special event, education programs, or a rental.

Docents are expected to volunteer a minimum of six hours per month for at least three months. The shifts are split up into two-hour shifts. The shifts are from 10:00-12:00, 12:00-2:00 and 2:00-4:00. There are no shifts after 5:00 unless we have a special event, education programs, or a rental.

You arrive 15 minutes before you are supposed to be in the assigned area (for example 9:45 for a 10:00 shift). You’ll be greeted by volunteer office staff as well as the volunteers who are on shift with you. Staff will go over any updates for the day (animals that might be off exhibit, births, deaths, groups expected, etc.) and answer any questions you have. You’ll then grab a walkie-talkie and head out to your assigned area for your 2-hour shift. During your shift, you will interact with guests to answer their questions and will notify staff via walkie of any issues in your area.

The fee for our docent program is $10.00. This includes the cost of your name tag and your volunteer t-shirt which you will wear during your shifts as well as your background check if you are 18+. That fee is due when you come for your scavenger hunt, NOT when you submit your application. This is a one-time docent fee. Once someone becomes a docent at our facility, they are eligible to complete docent training in other areas when it is offered.

Yes. Upon successful completion of an interview and an offer to join the volunteer program, we would train both the individual and the support staff member. The support staff member would go through the same onboarding process as the volunteer (background check, forms, fee, training, etc) and would receive a volunteer shirt and name tag to wear on site. Should that support staff member change at any point, the new staff member would have to complete those same steps before the individual resumed volunteering.

Once you complete the form, click the continue button at the bottom. You will receive a confirmation email immediately letting you know that we have received your application. We will review your application and email you to set up an interview. We communicate with applicants solely via the email address you provide on your application. Please make sure to check your SPAM folder since our emails occasionally go to SPAM.

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