Adult Volunteer: Core

Our Adult Volunteer Program accepts volunteers over 18 years of age who are interested in volunteering repeatedly with us throughout the year.  These dedicated, passionate members of our community will have the opportunity to assist with community gardens, grounds maintenance, Carousel and Train rides, unique conservation projects, special events, and/or community outreach events!  Do you have skills, abilities, or time that you'd like to donate? There's always something to do at the zoo!

Core Volunteers:

We value and depend on our volunteers who commit to regular shifts throughout the season. When you first begin volunteering with us you will wear a volunteer lanyard to show that you are in training. Once you have completed at least three shifts with us, you will be given an official Saginaw Children’s Zoo name tag, and a volunteer t-shirt. We ask our Core Volunteers to commit to at least 3 shifts per month for the season. Core Volunteers receive extra benefits such as discounts at our gift shop and concessions.


Half day shifts have a 15-minute break, full day shifts have two breaks and a 30-minute lunch

Morning: 10am-1:30
Afternoon: 1:30pm-5pm
Full Day: 10am-5pm


Summer, April-November

Deadline to Apply

Adult Volunteers may apply year-round, but at this time, all our volunteer opportunities are April through November

Adult Volunteer Requirements

  • Must be 18 or older
  • Minimum of one shift per season to remain an active volunteer
  • Pass a background check
  • May be required to have proof of current tetanus vaccine and negative TB test in the last six months if working near animals
  • Report on time for scheduled service areas
  • Wear a designated uniform while on Zoo property


Adult volunteers can sign up for a variety of shifts! Training is provided for each opportunity separately.

Habitat Assistant-Core

Enjoy sharing fun animal facts and getting up close with our animals? Assist in greeting and educating our guests in the Kangaroo Walkabout, with animal interaction in the Goat Yard, or helping visitors offer a treat to the cockatiels in the walk-through Aviary.  May be required to stand for long periods of time. Must be able to work outside in cool-hot weather, so bring your reusable water bottle to keep cool! * Must have a negative TB test in the last 6 months.

Ride Operator-Core

Our most popular volunteer opportunity—sign up to operate our Trian or Carousel!

Train Operators drive the Iberschoff Special, our little red train, on a journey around the zoo. Greet guests at the station and make sure everyone is safely aboard before heading out! Must be able to climb on and off the engine and sit for long periods of time.

Carousel Operators ensure everyone has a merry time on the region’s only hand carved carousel! Welcome guests onto the carousel  and make sure everyone is safely situated before letting the horses run! Must be able to walk and stand for long periods of time.

Conservation-Core & Casual

Do you want hands-on experiences ? Conservation volunteers make a difference in our community’s wildlife habitats which makes a global impact! Note: Many of our casual conservation projects are located off Zoo grounds. More information about these events can be found here. Conservation events can be completed by individuals as well as groups. 

Ethograms/Animal Observations (core only): An ethogram is a catalog of behaviors exhibited by a particular species and is used in animal observations. Our keepers monitor the behavior of our animals throughout the day, but continuous and systematic observations of our animals help us better understand their behavior and how they respond to changes in there environment. If you’re interested in animal behavior or animal care, this is for you!

Conservation Station (core only): Learn cool animal facts and share them with others! You'll be stationed with a table or cart of biofacts around the zoo or as a part of our Keeper Chats to teach guests about our amazing animals and share the message of conservation.

Caterpillar's Count (core only): Caterpillars and other Arthropods are and important food source for local wildlife. Caterpillars in particular are important for many species of migratory birds. The changing climate is shifting the timing of insect activity as well as bird migrations and breeding. Caterpillars Count is a citizen science project that can help scientists determine if birds, insects, and plants are all shifting the same amount. We’ll train you on how to collect data on caterpillars and other arthropods, so you can contribute to this global project!

Garden Assistant-Core & Casual

Do you have a green thumb? If you are interested in a regular volunteer schedule at the Zoo, the Gardening Assistant job may be for you!  Separate from the Adopt-a-Garden program, the Zoo regularly requires garden upkeep and sprucing up throughout the season. Must be able to bend, kneel, or reach down to pull weeds, trim plants, or water gardens. Must be able to work outside in cool-hot weather, so bring your reusable water bottle to keep cool!

Special Events-Core & Casual

Did you have a great time at one of our special events? You can help visitors create lasting memories and have fun at the Zoo, too! Special Event Volunteers help activities run smoothly on our busiest days and assist with community outreaches. This opportunity is perfect for you if you would like to volunteer on the weekends a couple times a month.

For more information, email or call at (989) 759-1408.