Volunteers help keep us afloat.
As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, we cannot thank our eager, excited and dedicated volunteers enough for their tireless efforts in supporting the Aquarium. Our volunteer force is made up of 350+ diverse, enthusiastic individuals. We offer many different opportunities for volunteers, including our Anchor Volunteer Program for applicants 18 or older and various student programs, like internships and job shadow days. Anchor Volunteers may engage with our guests in Education or work behind the scenes in Husbandry.
Total Hours of Volunteer Service: 731,047
Volunteering is an opportunity to join a community of individuals that are passionate about conservation, education and hospitality. Our volunteers enjoy a rewarding experience and many benefits.
- Recognition and award pins for service
- Aquarium membership and complimentary tickets at certain milestones
- Field trips and ongoing educational opportunities
- Social gatherings and recognition events at the Aquarium
- Opportunity to be a part of the behind-the-scenes operations!
- Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age to participate in the Anchor Volunteer Program. Students and/or individuals under 18 who are interested in volunteer and other opportunities, please click here.
- All volunteers must participate in a mandatory orientation and various trainings.
- Volunteers who are 18 or older must pass a background check and pay a refundable deposit.
- We ask our volunteers to commit to at least one year.
- Generally, volunteers must be able to work at least one consistent shift every week. Shift days and times vary.
Anchor Volunteer Program Positions
In Education, you can volunteer as an Exhibit Guide or a Structured School Programs Volunteer.
- Exhibit Guides are the volunteers on the floor, engaging with guests. They serve as Aquarium ambassadors and interpret exhibits for visitors. Exhibit Guides convey the theme of the Aquarium with special emphasis on fun, education, and conservation messages. During a shift, they may spend time at the Touch Tank, in Shark Shallows, at the Trading Post, at a cart, in the Saltmarsh, handling animals (snakes, alligators, or turtles), giving Behind-the-Scenes Tours and more.
- Exhibit Guides must be outgoing and enjoy engaging with the public, work well with and handle animals, be patient, have excellent verbal communication skills, be flexible and have a sense of humor. In addition to general requirements, Exhibit Guides must be eager to learn, be prepared for on-the-job training and attend additional training with Education staff, as assigned or as required for specific gallery activities.
- Commitment: Must be able to work either at least one, 4.5-hour shift (8:30am-1pm or 12:30-5pm) each week for one year or one 3- or 3.5-hour shift (8:30am-12pm, 11:30am-2:30pm, or 2-5pm) every other weekend for one year.
STRUCTURED SCHOOL PROGRAMS (SSP) VOLUNTEER
- SSP Volunteers act as educators to groups of K-12 students visiting the Aquarium from across the state. SSP Volunteers work with the SSP Manager and SSP Instructors to teach high-quality, standards-based and conservation-oriented education programs at learning stations and act as Aquarium teachers and ambassadors to groups of students during class visits.
- SSP Volunteers must enjoy working with a wide variety of students in grades K-12, enjoy engaging with the public, be patient, have excellent verbal communication skills, be flexible and have a sense of humor. In addition to general requirements, SSP Volunteers must complete the orientation class and training in the South Carolina Aquarium curriculum provided in September and must attend additional training with Education staff, as assigned. Individuals are encouraged to apply to the adult volunteer program by May 2018 to be considered for the 2018-2019 school year.
- Commitment: Must be able to work at least one, 3- or 3.5-hour weekday morning shift (9:30am-12:30pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday or 9:30am-1pm on Tuesday and Thursday) each week for one school year, September through May.
In Husbandry, you can volunteer as a Husbandry Assistant in one of the various positions, a Diver or a Sea Turtle Care Center Assistant.
All husbandry volunteers must be agile and able to lift 50 lbs.
- Husbandry Assistants may work in any one of the following areas: aquatics, aviculture, herpetology, horticulture, mammals or water quality. These volunteers work closely/directly with their supervisors. Job descriptions and openings vary.
- Husbandry Assistants help with the maintenance of the Aquarium’s collection, exhibits and backup areas. They help with daily food preparation, feeding animals, cleaning tanks and habitats, inventorying and stocking food supply, animal observation, record keeping, general maintenance and special projects. (Horticulture Assistants help with watering, plant inspections and current projects. Water Quality Lab Assistants help in the testing of the freshwater and saltwater in all aquatic exhibits.)
- Husbandry Assistants must have prior animal care experience (home aquaria, pets, etc.), be willing to get wet and handle fish, shrimp, squid, etc. to be used for food, be able to follow recipes and handle insects, be willing to learn more about animal and tank care independently, be able to stand for extended periods of time and be able to keep meticulous records. They should have an interest in the animal species of South Carolina. (Horticulture Assistants must be comfortable working in typical gardening situations, including hot, cold, humid and wet conditions, whether on site or at the nursery. Water Quality Lab Assistants must be willing to learn about Aquarium systems and individual exhibit testing techniques.) In addition to general requirements, Husbandry Assistants must complete additional training with Husbandry staff, as assigned or as required.
- Commitment: Husbandry Assistants must be able to work at least one, 3- or 4-hour morning shift each week for one year.
- Divers help with the maintenance of the Great Ocean Tank. They prepare food for dives, help to feed the animals, help to maintain exhibit tanks, backup areas, and equipment, interact with visitors to educate them about the animals and their ecosystems and offer general help as needed upon request of the Life Support and/or Aquarist staff.
- Divers must have Advanced Open Water SCUBA Certification or the equivalent and work well in a team-oriented environment. In addition to general requirements, divers must complete the Aquarium diver certification program, which includes an “in-water” skills test and an apprenticeship with experienced divers.
- Commitment: Divers must be able to work at least two, 8-hour shifts (8am-4pm) each month for one year.
- Upcoming Dive Orientations and Training Dates:
- Saturday, January 19 to Sunday, January 20
- Saturday, March 16 to Sunday, March 17
- Saturday, May 11 to Sunday, May 12
- Saturday, August 17 to Sunday, August 18
- Divers must attend a scheduled session. We do not offer individual dive orientation and training.
SEA TURTLE CARE CENTER (STCC) ASSISTANT
- STCC Assistants help with the care and maintenance of both the Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™ and our Sea Turtle Hospital. They help with the diet preparation for and feeding of our patients, record daily observations, offer environmental enrichment, assist with the medical care of patients, keep detailed records and log books, maintain holding tanks and hospital equipment, help with the upkeep of the two facilities and assist in miscellaneous projects.
- STCC Assistants must be able to work independently, demonstrate initiative, be detail-oriented, have good record keeping skills, be comfortable engaging the general public, have an interest in sea turtles and be conservation-oriented. In addition to general requirements, STCC Assistants must complete additional training with Husbandry staff, as assigned and as required.
- Commitment: STCC Assistants must be able to work at least one, 4-hour shift each week for one year. Also, they must be willing to work longer and/or flexible hours as needed.
- Please Note: STCC Assistant positions are strongly coveted, so there is a lengthy wait list for openings. If you indicate an interest on your application, your name may be placed on that wait list. We do try, though, to fill an opening first from our roster of current, active volunteers. When a match there is not possible, then we look to applicants who have not yet come on board as volunteers. We have no way of knowing how long the wait will be. We have strong retention in our Anchor Volunteer Program, especially with our STCC Assistants. The wait could be a couple of months to several years.
- Conservation Assistants can be found throughout South Carolina, helping to expand the Aquarium’s conservation reach into communities statewide. They contribute to the Aquarium’s current citizen science programs, Litter-free Digital Journal and Sea Rise, and help recruit and organize citizen scientists from their communities. Conservation Assistants conduct and organize litter sweeps in their communities. There may be opportunities to be involved in future citizen science projects, as well. Conservation Assistants may be asked to participate in outreach events such as festivals and conservation events in their area.
- Conservation Assistants must have an excellent understanding of the Aquarium’s Conservation initiatives including Resiliency Initiative for Coastal Education (plastics and sea level rise), Good Catch (sustainable seafood) and Sea Turtle Care. They must be self-motivated and independent individuals with a passion for protecting the natural world. They also must be engaging and eager to work to further the Aquarium’s vision of connecting people to water, wildlife and wild places.
- Commitment: Must be able to work 4 hours per week for one year. Must be communicative to Conservation staff regarding their volunteer hours.
PLEASE NOTE: The link below is to apply for our Anchor Volunteer Program, which is for applicants 18 or older. If you are a student and/or under 18, please visit our student page for more information on our other programs and internships.