Volunteers

Potawatomi Zoo offers four volunteer options, each with its own qualifications, training requirements, and responsibilities. Anyone interested in volunteering at Potawatomi Zoo should submit an application form. Please note the submission deadlines for applications. Applicants invited to attend the Volunteer Training Course will have to pay a nominal training fee that helps offset the cost of training materials and uniforms.

Event Volunteers

Help during special events, including Party for the Planet and Zoo Boo. Qualifications: Must be at least 16 years old, Need to volunteer at a minimum of two special events per year

Junior Educators

Are teen volunteers that assist with ZooCamps and interact with guests on zoo grounds during the summer months. Space is limited in this program. Qualifications: Must be 13-17 years old, Able to volunteer at least 50 hours/summer

ZooCrew Volunteers

Interact with zoo visitors through exhibit and artifact interpretation, lead guided tours, and assist in education classes in addition to helping at special events. Qualifications: Must be at least 16 years old, Need to volunteer at least 20 hours/year

Docents

Receive training to handle the zoo’s collection of education animals, so they can provide animal programming in addition to interacting with zoo visitors through exhibit and artifact interpretation, leading guided tours, assisting in education classes, and helping at events. Qualifications: Must be at least 18 years old, Need to volunteer at least 25 hours/year

App​lications
Download a volunteer application and then submit by mail (Potawatomi Zoo Education Department 500 S. Greenlawn Avenue South Bend, IN 46615), fax (#574-235-9080), or email (KUlrich@SouthBendIN.gov). Please note the following deadlines for submitting applications. Any applications received after the listed deadline will be kept on file to be considered for the next year.

  • Event, ZooCrew, and Docent Volunteer applications are due by December 1.
  • Junior Educator Volunteer applications are due by February 1.

Screening
Every application is reviewed, and applicants passing the review will be invited to a Volunteer Open House to take place in February or March. The Volunteer Open House allows each applicant to learn more about Potawatomi Zoo and our Volunteer Programs. Applicants will tour the zoo, meet and talk with Potawatomi Zoo Volunteers, and be interviewed. Accepted applicants will then be invited to attend the Volunteer

Training ​Course.
Background checks will also be conducted for each applicant. In lieu of the background check, a certificate of trust will be signed for any volunteer applicants under the age of 18.

Training
The training course for Event, ZooCrew, and Docent Volunteers begins in March. For anyone unable to attend the scheduled classes, a self-guided training is also offered. The Junior Educator Volunteer training will take place in May (no self-guided training available).

Group Volunteering at Potawatomi Zoo

Potawatomi Zoo welcomes the support of companies and organizations and tries to coordinate volunteer days with interested groups whenever possible.  We will select the specific job based on your group (e.g. number of individuals, age of participants), but selected tasks are generally aimed at beautifying the zoo and may include weeding gardens or raking leaves. 

Submit a Company/Organization Volunteer Application to the Zoom and a Zoo Representative will contact you with more information including available dates and time for setting up a volunteer day and the job(s) to be performed. 

Please note that background checks are required for each individual volunteering with Potawatomi Zoo and the South Bend Parks & Recreation Department.  Organizations, groups, and companies are responsible for the background checks and behavior of their participating members.