GET INVOLVED

VOLUNTEER

VOLUNTEER

Ways to volunteer

We are excited for you to get involved at John Ball Zoo! Explore the different ways to make an impact for wildlife and wild places with your time. 

APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN 

Ready to be part of the Zoo team? Becoming a John Ball Zoo Volunteer Team member means that you or your group are making a commitment to support zoo and its mission and plan to volunteer multiple times in the same role. Volunteers support nearly every department with over 16,000 hours of service last year.

There are a large variety of assignments available, and some great perks to being a John Ball Zoo Volunteer Team Member. 

READY TO LEARN MORE? APPLY NOW

Are you ready to make an impact? Join our Teen Volunteers as they help support saving wildlife and wild places! The John Ball Zoo Teen Volunteer Program runs during the summer but the volunteer opportunities extend through the fall. 

READY TO LEARN MORE? APPLY NOW

Current Volunteers do not need to reapply. 

 If you are looking to make an impact but not sure you want to make a commitment to come on a regular basis? Come help the zoo for a one time assignment as a Zoo Volunteer Helper!

These one time opportunities are available to individuals and groups without an in depth orientation and training process, just sign up, show up and lend a hand. 

  • Zoo Goes BOO! is our largest Volunteer Helper event with over 300 spots for volunteers!

  • All Zoo Helpers must be 14+ to volunteer independently, or 10+ to volunteer with an adult.

  • Opportunities vary greatly, please see the individual opening for qualifications and description. 

  • Opportunities are directly linked to the registration form. If you do not see any available opportunities to sign up for there are none currently available.

Check out our current ZOO HELPER OPPORTUNITIES

The John Ball Zoo Summer Internship Program offers college students a unique opportunity to become actively involved in our mission. In this exciting and challenging atmosphere, interns will supplement previous experiences and apply classroom knowledge in a variety of departments. All John Ball Zoo Internship Program opportunities are during the summer semester, 40 hours per week, and paid hourly.

Once posted all Internship Program opportunities, in addition to Seasonal, and Full Time opportunities can be found on our CAREERS page. If you are interested in volunteer opportunities at the zoo you can find those HERE.

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VOLUNTEER

Volunteer Team

Thank you for considering donating your time to John Ball Zoo! We have a range of areas with volunteer team members and all go through the same process to join the team. After filling out an application, you will complete an online orientation, and attend an in person orientation before you get started.

Guest Services

Education

Conservation

Operations

VOLUNTEER TEAM

Animal Team

Working behind the scenes to help support our animal care team volunteers work in a variety of assignments found in multiple departments. Please click on the assignment to see the detailed description for more information including age and commitment requirements.

  • Animal Nutrition*
  • Enrichment Building
  • Behavioral Observations
  • Keeper Help*
    Under the direction of the zookeeper you will help get the zoo ready for guests in the morning. It is important to note that volunteers never have direct contact with animals.

*Indicates assignments that require yearly TB test.

  • Ability to commit to position attendance requirements
    • Most often 4 months with a weekly commitment for a total of 18 shifts. 
    • Multiple absences may result in removal from placement.  
  • Ability to follow area protocols
  • Understanding that there is no direct animal contact with exhibit animals.
  • COVID vaccination is highly recommended but not required
VOLUNTEER

Youth Volunteer Team

Are you ready to make an impact? Join our Youth Volunteers as they help support saving wildlife and wild places! Youth volunteer program runs during the summer but opportunities extend through spring and fall.

Qualities we look for when selecting volunteers:

  • Positive attitude
  • Enthusiasm for learning and sharing information with guests, kids and adults
  • Desire to meet new friends and be part of a team
  • Ready to make an impact on conservation of wildlife and wild places
  • Be 14 – 17 years of age
  • Completion of orientation
  • Ability to maneuver to assignment location in the zoo
  • Be able to attend in person assignment training sessions.
  • Be able to receive important information via email.
  • Our youth volunteers help in most of our Guest Engagement roles found in Guest Services and Education. We also have higher commitment opportunities in our Animal Team roles.

  • After receiving your application you will receive a welcome email with the next steps to take in becoming part of the John Ball Zoo Volunteer Team!

VOLUNTEER

JBZoo Helpers

Thank you for thinking of John Ball Zoo for your volunteer time. If you are looking to make an impact without a big commitment being a JBZoo Helper is for you! Want to volunteer right away? Not sure if you want to make a commitment to come on a regular basis? Come help the zoo for an immediate opportunity. These are available to individuals and groups without an in depth orientation and training process, just sign up, show up and lend a hand. These opportunities will vary greatly, please see the individual opening for qualifications and description. All volunteers must be 14+ to volunteer independently, or 12+ to volunteer with an adult. On the application you will be able to see all available opportunities, select the day and time you will volunteer for and hit submit. If you do not see any available opportunities to sign up for there are none currently available.

Events

Special Projects

VOLUNTEER

Zooster - Group Fundraising Opportunities

Are you part of a booster group or a small non-profit group? Are you looking for a fun and unique way to raise funds? Join the John Ball Zoo Food & Beverage team and earn money for your booster group! – Opportunities Closed for 2022

  • Groups MUST be a 501 non-profit, tax-exempt entity
  • Groups need at least 10 participants ages 15+ (at least 3 must be over the age of 21)
  • Shifts are 5 hours or less and support Food Service Operations
  • Donation to the group of $250 for Friday, Saturday, or Sunday opportunities, and $200 for Monday – Thursday opportunities.
GET INVOLVED

Internship Program

Learn more about our college level internship opportunities at the Zoo in a variety of fields!

John Ball Zoo Internship Program offer college students a unique opportunity to become actively involved in our mission. In this exciting and challenging atmosphere, interns will supplement previous experiences and apply classroom knowledge in a variety of departments. The JBZoo Internship Program will post openings early in the new year for the Summer Semester. We currently are only running the program during the Summer Semester. Once posted all Internship Program opportunities, in addition to Seasonal, and Full Time opportunities can be found on our CAREERS page. If you are interested in volunteer opportunities at the zoo you can find those HERE
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Great Lakes Rare Turtles

Great Lakes Conservation
About

Turtles are in trouble around the world and locally. The Great Lakes Rare Turtle Program addresses on threats that are existential and widespread for Blanding’s, Spotted, Wood, and Box Turtles. The John Ball Zoo is working wth partners to study head starting as a conservation tool, protecting nesting habitat for Wood Turtles from raccoons, and researching the distribution and status of Spotted Turtles in Southwest Michigan. The zoo partners with local community scientists to indentify road crossings that pose a threat to Blanding’s and other species of turtles.

Partners

Poweshiek Skipperling

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Facts
Habitat

Grassland, Wetlands (inland)

Threat Range

Critically Endangered

Region

Extant (resident) - Canada (Manitoba); United States (Wisconsin, Michigan), Possibly Extinct - United States (South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa), Extinct - United States (Indiana, Illinois)

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Mitchell's Satyr

Great Lakes Conservation
About

The prairie fens of southern Michigan are a stronghold for the Endangered Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly. We are working with Michigan State University, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and the Kalamazoo Nature Center to develp to propagate this rare butterfly. Offspring reared in the program may be used to supplement wild Mitchell’s Satyr populations.

Partners

Freshwater Mussels

Great Lakes Conservation
About

Freshwater Mussels are one of the most fastenating groups of animals. Unfortunately they are also one of the most imperiled groups on animals with more than 70% of North American species listed as Threatened or Endangered. Our own Grand River is home to an impressive 32 different species, 19 of which are listed. The John Ball Zoo is working with scientists at Grand Valley State University to evaluate Grand River Mussel populations. During the 2023 field season, the team documented over 1,000 individuals from 27 different species. This includes the Endangered Snuffbox Mussel.

Partners

Habitat Hero

Community Science
About

The Habitat Hero program is focused on creating better urban pollinator habitat by giving away native plants to west Michigan community members. By giving away native trees, shrubs and wildflowers, we are inviting community members to provide crucial nectar sources for pollinators as well as become more involved in pollinator conservation in their own yards and gardens.

Partners

Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring

Community Science
About

American Kestrels are one of North America’s most abundant raptors, but their populations have been steadily declining since the mid 1960’s. This year we have begun participating in the American Kestrel Partnership, run by the Peregrine Fund, to monitor local kestrel nest boxes and help better understand Kestrel population trends and biology.

Partners

Grand River Sucker Monitoring

Community Science
About

Suckers are a very important, and often overlooked, group of migratory fish that inhabit the Grand River. Every spring they migrate upriver from Lake Michigan to spawn in tributaries of the Grand River. We are joining a project started by the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago to determine how changes in temperature and flow of the streams impact the spawning behavior of the suckers.

Partners

Turtle Road Mortality Surveys

Community Science
About

One of the major threats to turtle populations is mortality associated with roads and vehicles. We have a team of trained volunteers who survey predetermined road crossing sites and report the number of turtles they find at these locations. We plan to use the data to assist in conservation decision-making regarding roads and turtles in west Michigan.

Partners

Michigan Butterfly Network

Community Science
About

As part of our pollinator conservation work, we want to understand how native butterfly populations are changing over time. By training community members to use the Michigan Butterfly Network monitoring protocol, we are offering passionate people the opportunity to help contribute to our understanding of butterfly populations in west Michigan.

Partners

Bat Surveys

Community Science
About

West Michigan is home to several species of rare and threatened species of bats. This summer we will have a group of volunteers collecting bat occurrence data by driving predetermined routes and using special recorders and software to identify bat species. The data will be submitted to the North American Bat Monitoring Project as part of their ongoing analysis of bat abundance and occupancy across North America.

Partners

Massasauga Rattlesnake

Great Lakes Conservation
About

The Massasauga is Michigan’s only venomous snake and plays an important role in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, these snakes are declining in numbers and are listed as Threatened. The John Ball Zoo helps to educate the public on the plight of the Massasauga and helps conservation biologists study them in the field. Currently, we are assisting Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, Grand Valley State University, and Sarett Nature Center develop new technologies to monitor this secretive snake species.

Partners

City Nature Challenge

Community Science
About

The City Nature Challenge is one of the world’s largest annual community science events. Started by iNaturalist in 2016 as a friendly competition between the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, this bioblitz has grown into a global phenomenon with over 500 cities participating. Taking place over the last weekend in April each year, the City Nature Challenge is all about getting outside and documenting the biodiversity in and around our communities while building and strengthening relationships with other people who are passionate about conserving local species. The West Michigan City Nature Challenge is Michigan’s only City Nature Challenge event, and encompasses Allegan, Barry, Kent and Ottawa Counties. We are excited to partner with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and many other local organizations to engage our communities in four days of exploring our biodiverse outdoor spaces.

Partners

Michigan Area

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Freshwater Mussels

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Habitat Hero

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Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring

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Grand River Sucker Monitoring

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Turtle Road Mortality Surveys

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Michigan Butterfly Network

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Bat Surveys

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Massasauga Rattlesnake

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City Nature Challenge

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Get Involved!