About Shedd

Volunteer Listings

The following are among the possible ways you can help Shedd. Once you've found one that interests you, click this link to fill out the volunteer application.

It is because we provide so much training and we give our volunteers so much responsibility that we have several important requirements. We ask for an initial time commitment of either six months or a year (depending on the program you choose). Weekday volunteers are asked to come in the same day every week for at least six months. Weekend volunteers are asked to come in the same day, either Saurday or Sunday, every other weekend for at least one year.

Age Requirements

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to participate in most programs. We are accepting volunteers under 18 years of age in our Guest Engagement program as exhibit interpreters. Volunteers under the age of 16 are welcome to participate in this program as long as they are volunteering with an adult guardian. The minimum age to volunteer is 12 years old. The minimum age for volunteer scuba diving is 21 years old.

We are always accepting applications for those able to volunteer for six months to one year.

The summer-only application deadline has now passed.

Aquarium Collections Husbandry
This position is perfect for people who are interested in learning more about the care of fishes, reptiles, invertebrates, small mammals and amphibians. Volunteers work behind the scenes preparing animal food, maintaining tank hygiene and cleaning animal-care areas. Individuals assigned to the aquarium collections department work closely with our knowledgeable staff. Positions are available seven days a week from morning into early afternoon.  The minimum commitment is six months for weekday volunteers and one year for weekend volunteers. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to participate in the aquarium collections husbandry program.

Caribbean Reef Diver
Our most popular program gives highly qualified divers the opportunity to hand-feed the animals in our Caribbean Reef exhibit while giving public presentations. Because of the popularity of this program, there is often a waiting list. A prospective diver must meet minimum scuba requirements (30 hours logged open-water diving) and successfully complete a scripted audition before beginning to train for this position. All volunteer divers must be at least 21 years old.

Guest Engagement
This position is ideal for individuals who love to learn and want to interact with a diverse group of people. Guest engagement volunteers receive extensive training that enables them to share information about our animals, present various hands-on public programs and provide general assistance to Shedd guests. Guest engagement volunteers are stationed throughout our exhibit areas. We are currently recruiting for the following tracks:

• Exhibit interpretation—Volunteers engage guests in learning with Shedd throughout our exhibits. Volunteers would use various techniques such as questioning, descriptive language and prop usage to promote self-discovery and make deeper connections between the guests and the living world. Responsibilites include promoting self-discovery of connections in various exhibits, engaging guests with relevant animal information and providing great customer service for audiences of various backgrounds. Volunteers for this track must be at least 16 years old (unless accompanied by an adult for volunteers 12 and over). The minimum commitment is six months for weekday volunteers and one year for weekend volunteers.

• Penguin encounters—Volunteers engage guests scheduled for the penguin encounter program, an exciting new addition to Shedd Aquarium’s long history of diverse program offerings. Please note: There is no animal husbandry or contact involved in this volunteer position. Volunteers for this tracks must be at least 18 years old. The minimum commitment is six months for weekday volunteers and one year for weekend volunteers.

• Behind-the-scenes tours—Volunteers engage guests scheduled for the paid behind-the-scenes tour experience. This unique program takes place behind the scenes in the galleries and the laboratory and animal hospital. Volunteers for this tracks must be at 18 years old. The minimum commitment is six months for weekday volunteers and one year for weekend volunteers.

Volunteers are needed for these positions seven days a week during business hours.

Marine Mammal Diver
Qualified divers who have logged at least 30 hours of open-water dive time, including at least five hours of cold-water diving, assist our marine mammals staff with evening cleaning dives in the Abbott Oceanarium. These divers work to ensure that our facility provides the best possible environment for our marine mammals. Positions are available seven days a week between 6 and 8 p.m. The minimum commitment is six months for weekday volunteers and one year for weekend volunteers. Back-up divers are also accepted into this program. All volunteer divers must be at least 21 years old.

Marine Mammal Husbandry
Volunteering in the marine mammals department affords volunteers the opportunity to help our animal-care specialists in the daily operations of the Abbott Oceanarium. Volunteers in this department enjoy the messier aspects of maintaining our marine mammals by preparing food and cleaning many of the behind-the-scenes areas. While very little contact with the animals occurs, this position gives people with a love of marine mammals the opportunity to learn from our staff as they assist with many critical tasks. Positions in this department are available seven days a week during morning and afternoon shifts. The minimum commitment is six months for weekday volunteers and one year for weekend volunteers. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to participate in the marine mammal husbandry program.

Research and Evaluation
Volunteers will help provide Shedd with the best possible guest feedback by assisting with data collection, data entry and other administrative tasks. Volunteers will provide critical support to our understanding of Shedd experiences and overall satisfaction with an aquarium visit. Flexible shifts between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with potential for occasional evenings or weekends. Volunteers must be at least 16 years old. 

School Programs
Shedd's education department offers many exciting opportunities for volunteers within our school programs and youth programs area. Volunteers conduct weekday and weekend classroom programs for visiting school groups and individual registrants. This rewarding position not only enables volunteers to learn more about aquatic life but also to instruct a diverse group of children through dynamic and fun programming. Extensive training is provided for this program. Positions are available Monday through Friday for school programs, and Saturdays for youth programs. The commitment in the education department runs from September through May, a typical school year. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to volunteer with school programs.

Water-quality Laboratory
Working in Shedd's research laboratory as a water-quality analyst is rewarding and fascinating. This essential position offers individuals with an interest in the scientific aspects of Shedd an opportunity to learn about our laboratory facilities while working alongside other volunteers and staff. The lab uses volunteer water-quality analysts seven days a week during morning and afternoon shifts. The minimum commitment is six months for weekday volunteers and one year for weekend volunteers. The shift time is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to participate in our water-quality lab program.

Wild Reef Diver
Volunteers who are qualified to dive in Wild Reef are given the opportunity to perform cleaning and other maintenance in several of the exhibit’s habitats. Wild Reef is one of Shedd’s most popular exhibits. The animals and their surroundings are patterned after the beautiful coral reefs found in the Philippines. Wild Reef divers must have at least 30 hours of logged open-water diving and rescue certification. All volunteer divers must be at least 21 years old.

Other Volunteer Areas
Library sciences and horticulture also offer volunteer opportunities.

Additional questions? E-mail us at volunteerservices@sheddaquarium.org.

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