Docents are volunteer educators who provide guests and groups inside and outside the Zoo with information and experiences concerning animals and conservation. Docents work closely with Elmwood Park Zoo’s Education Department to conduct presentations, programs, and special events.
Docents typically participate in the following activities:
Preparation of educational materials
Program research and support
Live animal shows
Wild Adventure programs
Staffing the Docent Exploration Zone
Docent candidates must be 18 years or older and have a love for animals and an enthusiasm for teaching. Docents are required to commit to a minimum of one year of service. Before their service may begin, Docents must attend a two-day training and orientation class that covers a wide range of topics, including the natural history of animals, education procedures, guest relations, and animal handling.
Training and orientation classes take place in January and May over the course of two consecutive Saturdays. Continuing education classes are offered periodically throughout the year for Docents who wish to acquire the special skills that will allow them to perform public animal shows, lead guided tours, and prepare animal diets.
The Junior Docent program is a leadership and career development program for young people, ages 14 to 17, who are interested in pursuing careers in animal husbandry, veterinary science, zoological management, education, or other related field.
Junior Docents participate in many of the same activities available in the Docent program. During the summer months, Junior Docents are also called upon to assist with day camps, pony rides, and the Butterfly Garden.
Junior Docents are required to attend the two-day training and orientation class. Continuing education classes are also open to Junior Docents who wish to acquire the special skills that will allow them to perform public animal shows, lead guided tours, and prepare animal diets.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Junior Docent program, membership is currently limited to 25 people. Applications are accepted and interviews are conducted from January to March (for the summer season) and from September to December (for the winter season).
Docents and Junior Docents make a substantial commitment to the Zoo, and they receive a number of exclusive benefits in return:
20% discount in the Nature Shop and Cougar Café
50% off an individual Zoo membership or equal dollar amount discount from a
Invitation to the annual Volunteer Banquet
Invitation to attend annual Volunteer Field Trip to another major zoo
Invitation for Junior Docents to attend annual overnight Junior Docent Campout
at the Zoo
Opportunity to represent Elmwood Park Zoo at the National AZAD (Association
of Zoo and Aquarium Docents) Convention