Volunteer

divider line 2019

The volunteers of the Marine Discovery Center are the backbone of our organization. Their enthusiasm and energy helps keep us focused and motivated. If you would like to join this friendly team, please review the Volunteer Opportunities and Checklist that follow and attend our next Volunteer Introduction & Orientation Session (scroll down for details). You must be at least 13 to enter our volunteer program; please note that some areas have specific age restrictions.

Some volunteer areas vary seasonally and may not have availability certain times of year while others have more limited opportunities in general. If you have any questions, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Heather Gilder, at heather@marinediscoverycenter.org

Welcome Center

If you like working with the general public, this is the place for you! Duties include greeting arriving visitors, answering phones, booking passengers on our boat and kayak tours, answering general questions about MDC, and assisting visitors in our gift shop. Basic computer skills are needed. Our volunteers commit to 4-hour shifts one day per week; all training will be provided.
Availability: All year; currently this is a big area of need for us
Age Restrictions: 16+

Events

If your work or school schedule makes it hard to help during the week, you can still help with events! During the year, MDC hosts several fund-raising and community-building events including our Movies & Music by the Marsh series and the NSB Paint Out. A lot of advance planning is involved and on the day(s) of the event we need an energetic team of helpers willing to turn their hand to anything that needs doing. We also sometimes utilize outreach volunteers who act as environmental ambassadors for MDC at community events. Many of these events occur over weekends and sometimes in the evenings.
Availability: Mostly fall, winter, and spring
Age Restrictions: None

Marketing

Would you like to help but want to set your own schedule? With only a small number of full-time employees, we always need help to get the word out about our services. Some volunteers may wish to help by distributing brochures, flyers, and other marketing materials to local businesses and condos. Others may help with data entry, market research, etc.
Availability: All year but dependent on facility needs
Age Restrictions: None

Shoreline Restoration

Do you like to be outdoors and get involved in hands-on projects? Our oyster recycling and restoration program, Shuck and Share, needs volunteers throughout most of the year to help with lots of different jobs from shell collection to assembly of restoration materials to deployment in the lagoon. Some of the work takes place at MDC but often we assist in other locations throughout Central Florida and with a variety of partner organizations. Other restoration work may include mangrove and marsh grass planting or harvesting as well as other activities as needed.
Availability: All year but dependent on grant funding and needs of project partners
Age Restrictions: Some activities are 16+ or 18+

Citizen Science

Want to help contribute to a variety of research and data collection that can help the Indian River Lagoon? There are many opportunities for citizen science including microplastics testing and analysis, wildlife and plant surveys, water quality testing, and more. These areas may include field work, lab work, or a combination of the two. Opportunities often vary seasonally and are dependent on available grant funding and needs of our organizational partners.
Availability: All year but dependent on grant funding and needs of project partners
Age Restrictions: None

SWAT Team

Our Site Work Action Team is comprised of volunteers who don’t mind getting their hands dirty and helping keep our site looking great! We have a team of volunteers that help us maintain our grounds with most tasks encompassing landscaping, weeding, mulching, and other general site maintenance. We have organized events on a monthly basis to tackle specific tasks, and volunteers can also help at their convenience depending on our site needs.
Availability: All year
Age Restrictions: None

General Maintenance

Are you a Jack or Jill of all trades or have some helpful handy skills? We sometimes are in need of specialized skill sets in areas such as carpentry, painting, light construction, and other as-needed tasks to keep MDC in tip-top shape.
Availability: All year but dependent on facility needs
Age Restrictions: None

Education

Do you enjoy working with children and adults and sharing your knowledge of nature? We provide learning opportunities for over 4000 students and adults each year. These programs require a team of dedicated staff and volunteers especially during the fall and spring months. Volunteers assist with setting up and delivering our Hands On/Feet Wet educational programs, which take place at various MDC facilities including the lab, classroom, boat, dock or kayaks. Opportunities in this area may be somewhat limited during the summer due to camp.
Availability: Mostly fall, winter, and spring
Age Restrictions: Some activities are 14+ or 16+

Summer Camp

Are you excited to spend the summer keeping our campers safe and having fun? Our popular Summer Adventure Camps, which run from June through August each year, are one of our strongest and longest-running programs, and it takes a team of enthusiastic volunteers to help our education staff run 2-3 camps at the same time. Camps require volunteers to be outside and can encompass a variety of activities depending on the camp. Summer camp requires extra application and background screening requirements for all volunteers beyond our general volunteer program.
Availability: Summer
Age Restrictions: 14+ or 16+ depending on the camp

Exhibits

If you love the creatures in our tanks, perhaps you’d enjoy sharing information about them with our visitors! Our docents introduce guests to the tanks and other displays in our exhibit area. We also sometimes need volunteers to help care for our live exhibits with cleanings, feedings, and maintenance. Regular trainings will help you learn all you need!
Availability: Opportunities currently are very limited
Age Restrictions: None

Kayak Tour Sweeps

Are you an experienced kayaker? We have daily guided kayak tours that need the help of volunteer sweeps to assist the tour guide in keeping the group together. Kayaking experience is required and the need for a volunteer sweep can usually be established the day before the trip. Most kayak tours are in the mornings and depart daily.
Availability: Opportunities currently are very limited
Age Restrictions: 16+

Internships

We often have a variety of internships for college students (and occasionally high school students). Areas that often utilize interns include Exhibits/Aquaria, Education, Summer Camp, Events, Shoreline Restoration, and Citizen Science.  Internship offerings vary seasonally and with the needs of our facility and may not always be available. Please visit our Jobs and Internships Page for more information on internships that currently are being offered.

Group Volunteering

We sometimes accept corporate, student, or community groups that would like to volunteer on a one-time or occasional basis. Availability for group volunteering largely depends on facility needs and/or time of year and is almost exclusively in the areas of SWAT/General Maintenance, Shoreline Restoration, and Events. To discuss group volunteering, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at heather@marinediscoverycenter.org.

marine discovery center

Checklist for Marine Discovery Center Volunteers

 

In order to become a Marine Discovery Center volunteer, the following items need to be completed:

 

  1. Attend one of the New Volunteer Introduction and Orientation sessions typically held on the 1st Wednesday* of each month from 3:30-4:45 p.m.  (dates subject to change – please call us to confirm or visit our online calendar). Space is limited; you must RSVP to attend; email heather@marinediscoverycenter.org. You may attend this orientation even if you are just considering volunteering but aren’t sure yet.
  2. Complete an MDC Volunteer Application.
  3. Read and sign our Policy against Child abuse and Workplace Sexual Harassment (the page to sign is in the application packet).
  4. Age 18 and over: Purchase and complete a Criminal Background Check for $17.50.
  5. Under 18: Submit a letter of recommendation from a teacher, employer, or other supervisor.
  6. All of the above will be submitted to our Volunteer Coordinator, Heather Gilder. This is most often done at orientation but can also be done ahead of time (once you have RSVP’d to attend an orientation) in person, by mail, or by email at heather@marinediscoverycenter.org. Payment for the background check is done via our Welcome Center desk in person or over the phone; screenings will be processed once both payment and signed form is received.
  7. Not sure about volunteering yet? You are welcome to attend orientation first and decide if volunteering is right for you before you submit paperwork.

For more details contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Heather Gilder:  heather@marinediscoverycenter.org

discover amazing white

"To protect and restore the Florida coastal and Indian River Lagoon ecosystems
through education, research and community stewardship."