Volunteers help keep us afloat.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit 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, job shadow days and our Splash Program.. Anchor Volunteers may engage with our guests in Education, work behind the scenes in Animal Care or in out in the field with Conservation.
Total Hours of Volunteer Service: 800,651
Volunteering at the South Carolina Aquarium 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.
- Aquarium membership and complimentary tickets at certain milestones
- Field trips and ongoing educational opportunities
- Opportunity to be a part of the behind-the-scenes operations
- Social gatherings and recognition events at the Aquarium
- Recognition and award pins for service
- 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 volunteering and other opportunities, check out our Job Shadow Program, Splash Program or High School Intern Program
- 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, but an assigned shift will be the same day at the same time every week
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to our most frequently asked questions before applying by clicking here.
Anchor Volunteer Program Positions
Conservation Assistant and Conservation Assistant Lead
Conservation assistants and conservation assistant leads can be found throughout South Carolina, helping to expand the Aquarium’s conservation reach into communities statewide. They contribute to the South Carolina Aquarium Citizen Science app and help recruit and organize citizen scientists across the Lowcountry and beyond. Conservation assistant and conservation assistant leads must:
- Have an excellent understanding of the Aquarium’s conservation efforts, including reducing plastic pollution, sea turtle rehabilitation and empowering citizen scientists
- Conduct and organize litter sweeps in their communities, both on their own and with groups. They may also be asked to participate in outreach events such as festivals and conservation events in their area.
- Be self-motivated and independent individuals with a passion for protecting the natural world
- Be engaging and eager to further the Aquarium’s vision of connecting people to water, wildlife and wild places
- Make a one-year commitment to one of two volunteer levels within the conservation department and be in regular communication with conservation staff regarding their work and volunteer hours
- Conservation assistants must be able to volunteer at a minimum of two litter sweeps per month, either on their own or with Aquarium-led groups.
- Conservation assistant leads must regularly volunteer for four hours per week providing a higher level of support to the Aquarium’s conservation department. Activities include, but are not limited to, conducting and assisting in litter sweeps and logging valuable data, such as plastic pollution, flooding events, saltmarsh die-off and beach erosion in the South Carolina Aquarium Citizen Science app.
In education, you can volunteer as an exhibit guide or a Dominion Energy School Programs volunteer.
Exhibit guides are the volunteers on the floor, engaging with guests, serving as Aquarium ambassadors and interpreting 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, Shallows, Trading Post, education carts, Saltmarsh Aviary, giving behind-the-scenes tours and more. Exhibit guides must:
- Work well with and be comfortable handling animals
- Be outgoing and enjoy engaging with the public, be patient, have excellent verbal communication skills, be flexible and have a sense of humor
- 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
- Attend one mandatory volunteer orientation, held on these Saturdays: February 26, May 21, August 13, and October 15. (Dates are subject to change.) Orientations begin at 9 a.m. and finish at approximately 1 p.m. In advance of each session, we conduct interviews, and those whom we believe will be the strongest matches for roles as Exhibit Guides will be invited to join us at the next orientation.
- Attend mandatory volunteer group training, in addition to one volunteer orientation. This two-hour training session is on the Monday or Tuesday evening following each Saturday orientation. These scheduled sessions are subject to change.
- Be able to work daily from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
DOMINION ENERGY SCHOOL PROGRAMS VOLUNTEER
Dominion Energy School Programs volunteers act as educators to groups of K-12 students visiting the Aquarium from across the state. Volunteers work with the school programs manager and 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. Dominion Energy School Programs 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
- Complete the orientation class and training in the South Carolina Aquarium curriculum and must attend additional training with education staff, as assigned
- Be able to work at least one three-hour or three-and-a-half-hour weekday morning shift (9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday or 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday) each week for one school year, September through May
- Be able to work at least one three-and-a-half-hour shift (9:30 a.m.–1 p.m. or 12:30–4 p.m.) each week for one year or one three-and-a-half-hour shift (9:30 a.m.–1 p.m. or 12:30–4 p.m.) every other weekend for one year
In animal care, you can volunteer as an animal care volunteer in one of the following positions: animal care assistant, diver, Sea Turtle Care Center™ assistant, horticulture assistant or water quality lab assistant.
All animal care volunteers must be agile and able to lift 50 pounds.
ANIMAL CARE ASSISTANT
Animal care assistants help with the maintenance of the Aquarium’s collection, exhibits, and backup areas, including daily food preparation, feeding animals, cleaning tanks and habitats, inventorying and stocking food supply, animal observation, record-keeping, general maintenance and special projects. They may work in any of the following areas: aquatics (freshwater and saltwater), aviculture, herpetology or mammals. These volunteers work directly with their supervisors. Job descriptions and openings vary. Animal care 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
- Should have an active interest in the animal species of South Carolina
- Complete additional training with husbandry staff, as assigned or as required
- Be able to work at least one, three-hour or four-hour morning shift each week for one year
Divers help with the care of the Great Ocean Tank and other areas, including exhibit cleaning, preparing food, helping feed the animals, maintaining back-up tanks, back-up areas and equipment, interacting with visitors to educate them about the animals and their ecosystems and offering general help as needed. Divers must:
- Have Advanced Open Water SCUBA Certification or the equivalent
- Work well in a team-oriented environment
- Attend a Dive Orientation. These mandatory classroom sessions take place on on the following dates:
- Tuesday, March 15, 5:30 p.m.–9 p.m.
- Saturday, March 19, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, April 19, 5:30 p.m.–9 p.m.
- Friday, April 22, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, May 10, 5:30 p.m.–9 p.m.
- Saturday, May 14, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, June 8, 5:30 p.m.–9 p.m.
- Friday, June 10, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, August 2, 5:30 p.m.–9 p.m.
- Saturday, August 6, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
- Saturday, September 3, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
- Saturday, October 23, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
- Complete a dive physical, dive skill evaluation in the pool and swim evaluation in the pool for pre-entry screening (after orientation)
- Be able to work at least 16 hours/month for one year
- Two eight-hour shifts (8 a.m.–4 p.m.) or four four-hour shifts (8 a.m.–12 p.m. or 12 p.m.–4 p.m.)
SEA TURTLE CARE CENTER ASSISTANT
Sea Turtle Care Center assistants help with the care and maintenance of our Sea Turtle Care Center, including the diet preparation for and feeding of our patients, recording daily observations, offering environmental enrichment, assisting with the medical care of patients, keeping detailed records and logbooks, maintaining holding tanks and hospital equipment, helping with general upkeep and assisting in miscellaneous projects. Sea Turtle Care Center 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
- Complete additional training with Animal Care staff, as assigned and as required
- Be able to work at least one, four-hour shift each week for one year (same day each week). Shifts are typically 8 a.m.–12 p.m., but volunteers must be willing to work longer and/or flexible hours as needed
Please Note: Sea Turtle Care Center assistant positions are strongly coveted, so there is a lengthy waitlist for openings. Your name will be placed on our waitlist upon request. We do try, however, to fill openings first from our roster of current, active volunteers. When a match there is not possible, then we look to applicants who have not yet volunteered with us. We are unable to determine how long the wait will be. We enjoy strong retention in our Anchor Volunteer Program, especially with our Sea Turtle Care Center assistants, so the wait can vary from a couple of months to several years.
Horticulture assistants help with watering, plant inspections and current projects. They 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 ASSISTANT
Water quality lab assistants help in the testing of the freshwater and saltwater in all aquatic exhibits. They must:
- Be willing to learn about Aquarium systems and individual exhibit testing techniques