New York Aquarium Docent Opportunities

Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS


Application Period Opens: March 1, 2015
Application Period CLOSES: 4:00pm EST on May 1, 2015

Become a docent – also known as an exhibit interpreter – at the New York Aquarium and help staff exhibits, teach visitors about marine conservation, and assist at events and education programs. As a docent, you will have the opportunity to meet individuals from around the world and join a family of fellow volunteers, staff, and wildlife experts who share a passion for our natural world.

The Docent Program is open to anyone age 15 and older: high school students, college/grad students, and adults.

Docent responsibilities include:

  • Speaking with aquarium visitors and giving exhibit chats using biological artifacts and other visual aids
  • Assisting with the development and implementation of special events
  • Staffing information and craft tables during special events on-site and off-site
  • Assisting Education Department instructors with school and family programs
  • Teaching visitors how to interact with horseshoe crabs, sea stars, and other animals at our touch pools
  • Conducting short marine conservation programs on the Coney Island Boardwalk outside of the aquarium entrance
Significant support for this program is provided by National Grid.


You must be at least 15 years or older by the deadline date to apply for the docent program. Acceptance into the program is competitive. A complete application is required to be considered a candidate for the program. See the link below to download the docent application. After an interview and orientation, accepted candidates must complete an intensive 7-day training course (the training schedule is below). All applicants must also have their own e-mail address and regular access to the internet.

There are three ways to volunteer:

  • Summer Docents (July 2, 2015 – September 7th, 2015 Labor Day Monday)
    Open to high school students, ages 15–18. Participants must volunteer two full days (6½ hours/day) per week at minimum, in order to complete a total of 120 service hours and 5 education hours. Days are flexible. Must volunteer for one holiday or special event as part of service hours.Complete a total of 120 service hours and 5 education hours.
  • Academic Year Docents (September 14, 2015 – June 30, 2016)
    Open to high school students, ages 15 and older. Participants must either volunteer one half-day shift or one full day every other week. Full-day shifts are 9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Half-day volunteer shifts are mornings (9:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.) or afternoons (1:00–5:00 p.m., weekends only). Days are flexible. Must volunteer two holiday days or special events as part of service hours.Complete a total of 150 service hours and 5 education hours.
  • Year Long Docents (1 year from the start date)
    Open to all individuals out of high school, aged 18 years and older (college/graduate students, adults, retirees and seniors).Participants must either volunteer one half-day shift once a week OR one full-day shift every other week. Half-day volunteer shifts are mornings (9:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.) or afternoons (1:00–5:00 p.m., weekends only September to June). Full-day shifts are 9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Days are Flexible.Must volunteer two holiday days or two special events as part of service hours.Complete 1 year of service (approximately 176 service hours) in addition to completing 5 education hours.

Application Process & Training Sessions

Applications will be accepted for consideration from March 1st, 2015 though May1st, 2015 ONLY. All applications must be complete and received no later than 4:00pm EST on May 1st. 2015. Late, incomplete or illegible applications will not be considered. See below to download tips on how to submit a complete application. In addition, applicants under age 18 must have a parent sign their application form and all applicants currently enrolled in high school must have a teacher fill out the recommendation form. Additional letters of recommendation may be submitted with the application; however, these documents should not be submitted in place of the official forms. Please do not include copies of your school transcripts.

After the Education Office has received and reviewed applications, we will contact applicants regarding the next step. An orientation and interview are mandatory if an applicant is selected as a candidate for the docent program. Candidates will be contacted by phone and/or email to schedule an orientation and interview. All other applicants will be notified about their status by email. Please make sure to provide your correct email address in your application.

Candidates that are accepted into the program will receive a notification of their acceptance by phone or mail by June 8th, 2015. Accepted candidates are required to attend the 7-day training course, which takes place from 10:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. each day during the training period. The training includes sessions on marine science, public speaking skills, and activities designed to practice engagement with aquarium visitors and foster good relations among docents. Please check the training dates below (Summer or Fall) and make sure that you can attend all of the dates within that section before applying to the program. All days of training are mandatory.

Summer Training Course
For summer and year-long docents
 Fall Training Course
For academic-year and year-long docents
Saturday, June 20, 2015  Sunday, August 16, 2015     
Sunday, June 21, 2015  Saturday, August 22, 2015
Saturday, June 27, 2015  Sunday, August 23, 2015
Sunday, June 28, 2015  Saturday, August 29, 2015
Monday, June 29, 2015  Sunday, August 30, 2015
Tuesday, June 30, 2015  Saturday, September 12, 2015
Wednesday, July 1, 2015  Sunday, September 13, 2015

Download tips for submitting your docent application.
Download the application.
Download the teacher recommendation form (high school students only).
Download Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).


If you have any questions, please feel free to call the volunteer office at (718) 265-3450, Saturday through Thursday, between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or email