Volunteer

What you need to know about our volunteer program

At Mystic Aquarium, our mission is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education and research. No one plays a bigger part in achieving that mission than our valued volunteers. In fact, there are entire programs that would not be possible without the support of our volunteers!
If you’re thinking about applying for our volunteer program, we encourage you to take a look at the following information before submitting your application. You’ll find volunteers from all walks of life at the Aquarium — students, retirees, homemakers, even full-time workers. If you choose to apply, placement will occur after your interview and will be based on your interests, availability, experience and our areas of need.

Programs:
Administration | Camp Program Assistant | Classroom Assistant | Docent | Events Volunteer | Fish and Invertebrates | Husbandry – Arctic Coast | Husbandry – Foxwoods Marine Theater | Husbandry – Pacific Northwest | Husbandry – Penguins | Overnight Assistant | SCUBA | Sea School Classroom Assistant | Stranding (In-House) | Student Docent | Water Quality Lab | Youth Conservation Corps

Requirements

Complete application- Applicants must be at least 15 years old.
Our scheduled volunteers need to commit to at least six months of service. These volunteers give a minimum of a half day weekly, or a full day every other week. If a weekly or bi-weekly commitment isn’t possible, we also have special events volunteers who periodically assist with activities at the Aquarium, including overnight trips, summer camp programs, seasonal events, administrative projects and more.
We ask that all volunteers come appropriately dressed for their location, comply with our staff policies and procedures and, above all, bring their enthusiasm!

Benefits

Free Aquarium admission for yourself
Discount on purchases in the gift shop and Penguins Cafe
Staff rates on programs and tickets
Continuing education and training
Annual Volunteer Appreciation Night
Invitations to all staff events
Worker’s Compensation benefits
An opportunity to be part of our community
Unparalleled experiences learning and developing unique skills

In addition to these benefits, your work as a volunteer will pay you back in other ways. You’ll gain experience in an exciting field. You’ll receive on-the-job training in a friendly work environment. You’ll have the satisfaction of helping others and spreading environmental awareness. Best of all, you’ll contribute to our mission of research, education and conservation.

Application

Please note that an application typically takes two to four weeks for processing.

Apply Now »

Roles & Departments

Volunteers are involved in a wide variety of functions at the Aquarium. Following initial training, volunteers assist in several roles, including exhibit education, classroom assistance, the stranding team and husbandry in animal care areas. We also have specialized SCUBA volunteers who dive our exhibits, as well as special events volunteers who assist with individual events and projects.

Administration

Looking for a great way to support the aquarium, but prefer to stay in the climate-controlled area of the offices? Want to strengthen your office skills, help out behind the sense and see the many areas that make the aquarium tick? Do you want to get your feet wet without actually getting your feet wet? We’re looking for help with all sorts of office work and projects.
Minimum Age: 15

Duties:
General office work (labeling, sorting, filing, copying, etc.)

Qualifications:
Computer skills (Microsoft office experience is helpful)
Strong customer service skills
Attention to detail
Phone skills

Camp Program Assistant

Do you enjoy spending time outdoors? Are you looking forward to a summer of opportunity to help teach kids? We have a great summer opportunity for those who love to help in a camp counselor role. This is a great way to give back to the community; along the way you will enjoy the ocean, the aquarium, the outdoors, and have fun all at once! Volunteers in this area will sign up for individual camps that span a few days to a week at a time.
Minimum Age: 15

Duties:
Assist with sign-in, activities, and tours
Serve entire class (usually 3-5 days)
Participate up to 8 hours per day
Perform all other assigned duties

Qualifications:
Enjoy working with children
Be prepared for a changing schedule each day
Volunteers do not need to make 6 month commitment for this role

Classroom Assistant

Do you enjoy working with kids of all ages? Are you looking to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards? Then the Education and Conservation department needs your help! We are looking for volunteers interested in sharing their passion for the marine environment and education. Volunteers assist Education & Conservation staff with programming that ranges from working with preschool students in our Sea School classroom to school groups in classrooms at the Aquarium and in schools. Not only will you help to shape the minds of the young and old but you will also increase your own knowledge of marine science topics and marine conservation issues.

Minimum Age: 15

Duties:
Familiarize self with class outlines
Maintain a working knowledge of Aquarium collections and exhibits
Maintain proper uniform
Assist Aquarium teachers in teaching classroom and field programs for students of all ages
Travel with Aquarium teachers to present outreach programs at local schools
Present public programs within the Aquarium
Perform all other duties assigned

Qualifications:
Communication skills
Enjoy working with children
Enthusiastic personality
Some biology and public speaking experience is helpful

Docent

This is our initial volunteer role for new volunteers. After 100 hours of service in this area, volunteers are invited to continue with the docent program, or to explore another area of the aquarium, as space allows.
Minimum Age: 18 (If age 15-17 see Student Docent opportunity)

Duties:
Relay accurate, consistent, quality information about Mystic Aquarium and its collection to guests of all ages, either in groups or one-on-one
Initiate contact with guests, providing a positive experience through being helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable
Crowd control as needed
Update, review, and understand material in personal Docent Handbook
Provide a positive experience through being helpful, friendly , and knowledgeable
Perform all other assigned duties

Qualifications:
Enjoy working with public
Enthusiastic and outgoing personality
Some biology and public speaking experience is helpful
Office/phone skills
Computer skills
Be willing and able to participate for at least 6 months

Events Volunteer

Are you an outgoing and enthusiastic person looking for a great way to support Mystic Aquarium but might not able to volunteer every week? If you enjoy working with people of all ages, the Marketing department is looking for volunteers to assist with wonderful special events throughout the year that can range from family events to fundraisers. You could be assisting kids with table top activities, craft activities, games or scavenger hunts, crowd control, checking in guests and manning registration tables. Prior animal knowledge is not required, we will provide you with all that you need to know. This is an excellent way to give back to the aquarium.
Event time frames vary, but do include school vacation breaks in December, February and April as well as Falloween in October, Run/Walk for the Penguins in October and Festival of Lights in December.

Minimum Age: 16

Duties:
Assist guests with activities, crafts, games, etc.
Initiate contact with guests, providing a positive experience through being helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable
Crowd control as needed
Provide a positive experience through being helpful, friendly , and knowledgeable
Relay accurate, consistent, quality information about Mystic Aquarium to guests of all ages, either in groups or one-on-one
Perform all other assigned duties

Qualifications:
Enthusiastic and outgoing personality
Enjoy working with children and the public

Fish and Invertebrates

Are you fascinated by the beautiful displays throughout our indoor Sunlit Seas exhibit? Ready to get a behind the scenes peek at the hard work that goes in each day to keep all our beautiful fish and invertebrates happy and healthy? These animals range from tetras to jawfish and seahorses to stingrays. In this role, volunteers get hands-on husbandry experience, learning to clean tanks, prepare food, and assist in feeds with our fish and invertebrates.

Minimum Age: 16

Duties:
Care and maintenance of fish and invertebrate collection and exhibits
Assist in specimen acquisition and quarantine
Execute routine husbandry procedures
Record keeping
Participate in development of husbandry techniques and practices
Work with other staff to fulfill area and facility programming needs
Monitor operation of life support systems
Ensure all husbandry areas are clean, organized and hazard free
Perform all other duties as assigned

Qualifications:
Capable of lifting 50 pounds
Physically able to execute duties of the position
Ability to swim
Strong communication and teamwork skills
Good attention to detail
Can work in fast-paced, high-energy environment
Comfortable handling raw fish
Work well with others and have a positive attitude
Strong desire to learn (we don’t just want you to work we also want you to learn)

Husbandry - Arctic Coast

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to assist with the care of beluga whales? If so, then this might be exactly what you’re looking for! The Arctic Coast area is a high energy environment where volunteers are able to learn about what it’s like to work alongside this unique and charismatic species.

Minimum Age: 18

Duties:
Care and maintenance of our beluga whale collection
Care and maintenance of exhibits (cleaning, food preparation, operation of life support systems)
Assist with presentations, classes, and contact programs.
Assist with routine husbandry procedures
Record keeping
Participate in animal training procedures
Participate in development of husbandry techniques and practices
Work with other staff to fulfill areas and facility programming needs
Perform all other assigned duties

Qualifications:
Completion of 100 hours with docent program
Ability to lift 50 pounds
Physically able to execute the duties of the position
Ability to swim
Strong communication and teamwork skills

Husbandry - Foxwoods Marine Theater

Are you fascinated by animal behavior? If so, there is nowhere you’d rather be than our Foxwoods Marine Theater with our California sea lions! In the Foxwoods Marine Theater, volunteers are invited to watch training sessions and shows in order to learn more about animal behavior and learning theory. We are looking for motivated volunteers who are ready to take the initiative and dive into this field.

Minimum Age: 18

Duties:
Scrubbing and cleaning
Food preparation and handling
Care and maintenance of California sea lion collection and their exhibits
Assisting with sea lion shows, training sessions, and classes
Assisting with animal medical procedures when necessary
Providing environmental enrichment for animals
Record keeping
Performing all other assigned duties

Qualifications:
Capable of lifting 50 pounds
Physically able to execute duties of the position
Ability to swim
Strong communication and teamwork skills
Available for a varying schedule
Typical schedule:
January-April: 8 AM-4:30 PM weekdays/weekends
May-June: 8 AM-4:30 PM weekdays/9 AM-5:30 PM weekends
July-August: 9 AM-5:30 PM weekdays/weekends
September-December: 8 AM-4:30 PM weekdays/weekends

Husbandry - Pacific Northwest

Do you enjoy working in a fast-paced environment while learning about caring for our sea lions and seals? Volunteers in this area get the opportunity to do some hands on work in our outdoor seal and sea lion exhibits.

Minimum Age: 18

Duties:
Care and maintenance of marine mammal collection
Care and maintenance of exhibits (cleaning, food preparation, operation of life support systems)
Assist with the presentation of marine mammal demonstrations and classes
Assist with routine husbandry procedures
Record keeping
Participate in animal training procedures
Participate in development of husbandry techniques and practices
Work with other staff to fulfill areas and facility programming needs
Perform all other assigned duties

Qualifications:
Capable of lifting 50 pounds
Physically able to execute the duties of the position
Ability to swim
Strong communication and teamwork skills

Husbandry - Penguins

Do you desire an exciting environment and learning about caring for our African Penguins? Volunteers in this area get the opportunity to do some hands on work in our outdoor Penguin Exhibit. As with all of our husbandry areas, we are looking for motivated, active people to get their feet (and likely more than their feet) wet as they learn about this exciting field. Come and learn about why this area isn’t just for the birds.

Minimum Age: 18

Duties:
Assist with care and maintenance of penguin collection
Care and maintenance of exhibits including cleaning, food preparation and operation of life support systems
Assist with routine husbandry procedures
Record keeping
Participate in animal training procedures
Work with other staff to fulfill areas and facility programming needs
Perform all other assigned duties

Qualifications:
Capable of lifting 50 pounds
Physically able to execute the duties of the position
Ability to swim
Strong communication and teamwork skills
Interest in animal behavior and training
Comfortable handling raw fish
Good attention to detail
Physical, hands on work

Overnight Assistant

Are you looking for a completely unique experience at the Aquarium? Do you want to give back but a regular schedule doesn’t work for you? Well then check out our sleepovers! This is your chance to enjoy the aquarium after hours, and then camp out on the main aquarium floor (be sure to bring a sleeping bag!) Increase your chances of dreams of tropical getaways by sleeping next to our coral reef tanks!

Minimum Age: 15

Duties:
Assist teachers with crafts, touch tank activities, tours, etc.
Perform all other assigned duties

Qualifications:
Enjoy working with children
Does not require 100 hours of docent work
Volunteers participate up to 16 hours at a time (5:30 PM-9:00 AM)

SCUBA

Description: A Mystic Aquarium Volunteer Diver is primarily responsible for the daily maintenance of many of our exhibits throughout our facility. Volunteer Divers will have the opportunity to work with many members of our Husbandry Staff in order to complete exhibit maintenance utilizing SCUBA.

Mystic Aquarium’s dive program is an occupational dive program. Occupational diving requires well developed team work, with each worker assigned a task or a number of tasks as part of their role. Fundamental differences between occupational and recreational diver training arise out of the duty of care a working diver has to manage, not only their own safety, but that of other members of the diving team. Your recreational dive training is a prerequisite to our occupational dive program. In addition, our volunteer divers must represent the Mystic Aquarium in a professional, courteous, and knowledgeable manner.

Duties:
Help maintain clean and healthy environment for our animals
Dive exhibit on a monthly basis during scheduled times posted on our Volunteer Diver website
Ensure safety as buddy diver or topside Standby Diver
Remain aware of exhibit and dive protocol changes and observe/interpret animal behavior and report to appropriate Husbandry staff member
Maintain clean work areas and keep accurate dive logs

Qualifications:
Minimum Age: 18
Able to make required dive commitment: Must be able to dive twice a month for 6 months
Ability to lift 50 pounds
Most dive openings are during the week (AM or PM) as weekend spots are often filled
Must have internet access or smartphone to utilize diver website
Must meet all Basic Requirements and Evaluation Process For Divers:
SCUBA certification at basic level or above by nationally recognized training program (NAUI, PADI, SSI, SDI)
Current First Aid and CPR, AED and Oxygen Administration certifications by recognized agency (O2 course not required to apply)
Must pass Mystic Aquarium’s written dive exam with a minimum score of 80%.
Must pass mandatory dive physical and have recommendation from physician. All divers at the Mystic Aquarium must fully meet our physical standards for diving as outlined in our Diving Medical Exam. The Medical Exam form must carry the signature of a physician to verify that you meet these standards. The doctor you choose must meet at least one of the following credentials: 1) Board Certified MD or DO 2) Navy Dive Medical Doctor (DMO). Please note, ALL of the prescribed tests must be included to satisfy our requirements. All costs associated with medical evaluations are at the diver’s expense.
Must pass required swim test and SCUBA evaluation.
Final acceptance into the Mystic Aquarium Volunteer Dive Program will be made at the end of this evaluation process by our Dive Safety Officer.

Please direct any questions to our Volunteer Services Manager:  Donna Chenette  (860) 572-5955 Ext. 209 or email: dchenette@mysticaquarium.org

Sea School Classroom Assistant

Do you want to educate the next generation of marine biologists? Do you want to bring out the kid in your heart? Then volunteer for our aquarium preschool program, SeaSchool!

Minimum Age: 15

Duties:
Assist with classroom activities (crafts, reading, sand and water table, and motor skills games)
Work with other staff to fulfill areas and facility programming needs
Perform all other assigned duties

Qualifications:
Able to commit to one 3 hour shift a week
Enjoy working with young children (3-5 years)
Time slots available:
Monday-Friday 9AM-12PM
Tuesday and Thursday 1PM-4PM

Stranding (In-House)

If you have ever been interested in helping animals in need, then the Animal Rescue Program may be the right volunteer position for you! Our Animal Rescue Program responds to reports of live and dead marine mammals and sea turtles along the coastlines of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Fisher’s Island, NY. In many circumstances, these animals are in need of rehabilitative care. The Seal Rescue Clinic is where that care takes place! Our goal is to provide the best quality animal care to all our rehabilitation patients and then, once healthy, release them back to the ocean.

Minimum Age: 18

Duties:
Assist with the overall care of stranded marine mammals in our rehabilitation clinic including but not limited to: cleaning of pools, preparing food buckets, administering medications and vitamins, and operating life support equipment
Assist with the execution of routine husbandry procedures including restraint procedures for veterinary exams and tube feeding of seal pups
Perform essential record keeping procedures
Help with response to marine mammal and sea turtle strandings
Perform all other assigned duties

Qualifications:
Capable of lifting 50 pounds
Physically able to execute the duties of the position
Ability to swim
Strong communication and teamwork skills
Comfortable handling raw fish
Good attention to detail

Student Docent

This is our initial volunteer role for new volunteers. After 100 hours of service in this area, volunteers are invited to continue with the docent program or to explore another area of the aquarium, as space allows.

Minimum Age: 15-17 (If 18 or older see Docent opportunity)

Duties:
Relay accurate, consistent, quality information about Mystic Aquarium and its collection to guests of all ages, either in groups or one-on-one
Initiate contact with guests, providing a positive experience through being helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable
Crowd control as needed
Update, review, and understand material in personal Docent Handbook
Provide a positive experience through being helpful, friendly , and knowledgeable
Perform all other assigned duties

Qualifications:
Enthusiastic and outgoing personality
Some biology background and public speaking experience helpful
Enjoy working with children and the public
Be willing and able to participate for at least 6 months

Water Quality Lab

It’s all about water! The goal of the water quality lab is to ensure healthy environments for all of Mystic’s animals. Learn how we do this by working alongside staff testing water quality chemistries.

Minimum Age: 16

Duties:
Assist in conducting routine water quality analyses
Provide technical support for research projects
Record keeping
Participate in maintaining laboratory computer files
Perform all other assigned duties

Qualifications:
Physically able to execute the work of the position
Computer knowledge and lab experience setting helpful
Good attention to detail
Volunteers participate up to 4 hours a week