Why Volunteer?

Let's be honest - we can't do what we do without the help of our volunteers! From caring for our animal habitats, to keeping the Museum in tip top shape, there's a chance for everyone to volunteer at the Museum. You'll get to learn about biology, horticulture, engineering, and animal care. Be a part of our fun and enthusiastic team! Do something unique and interesting that gives back to the community and helps build a world-class Museum for the citizens of North Carolina and beyond.

We have opportunities for groups and individuals of all interests. See our ongoing and one-time volunteering positions.

In addition to these intangible benefits, you'll also get to enjoy the wonder of:

  • One free Explorer 4 membership after 100 hours of service completed within one year. Once earned, the membership renews annually for as long as you continue to volunteer at the Museum.
  • Invitations to special events for Museum staff and volunteers
  • Recognition in Museum publications and at the Museum itself
  • Eligibility for Volunteer awards
With questions, contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Emma Nadeau via email at emman@ncmls.org or by phone at (919) 220-5429 ext. 302

Become a Volunteer


  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Complete a Museum Volunteer application
  • Pass a background check
  • Attend a New Volunteer Orientation

Upcoming Volunteer Orientations

All orientations are held at the Main Museum building. Orientation is open to the public and drop-ins are welcome - although pre-registration is preferred. To register for one of our upcoming volunteer orientations, email our Volunteer Coordinator Emma Nadeau today.

  • Thursday, November 3 | 3–4pm
  • Sunday, December 4 | 3–4pm
Fill out an application now

Summer Camp Youth Volunteer Program

Are you age 13-17 and interested in learning more about volunteering with our Summer Camps? Find more information here.


Volunteer opportunities include both ongoing commitments and one-time options that allow you to pick and choose events that match your interests and availability.

Ongoing Opportunities

Magic Wings Butterfly House
  • Engage visitors as they explore one of our most popular experiences
  • Keep the butterflies and plants safe from curious hands
  • Provide informal educational programs with invertebrate animals in the Insectarium
  • Assist with the care and maintenance of our butterflies, invertebrates, and plants
  • Low to moderate physical labor required
  • Ideal volunteers are able to commit 2–4 hours per week
Animal Department
  • General animal husbandry including raking and shoveling of farmyard stalls and yards
  • Clean animal cages and exhibits
  • Sweep, mop, and organize support areas
  • Food preparation
  • General department assistance
  • High physical labor required (including ability to lift and carry 50 lbs.)
  • Volunteers must be able to commit at least two 4–hour shifts per month, 8am–12pm
The Lab
  • Assist Lab Facilitator with presenting experiments and activities
  • Interact with guests to enhance exhibit experience
  • Clean glassware and replenish supplies
  • General department assistance
  • Low to moderate physical labor required
  • Ideal volunteers are able to commit 2–4 hours per week
  • Lab hours are currently Tuesday–Friday, 10:30am–2:30pm, Saturdays 10:30am–4:30pm, and Sundays 12:30–4:30pm
Exhibits Maintenance
  • Repair exhibit components
  • Make models
  • Assist with cleaning and vacuuming exhibit components
  • Low to moderate physical labor required
  • Ideal volunteers are able to commit at least two 4–hour shifts per month


One-time special events occur throughout the year and vary in types of activities and length of commitment. Special event opportunities are often perfect for groups, individuals with a limited amount of time, or those interested in learning more about the Museum. Interested in a day of service for your group or corporate team? We'd be happy to explore projects to fit your schedule and needs. Contact our Volunteer Coordinator for more information on these special opportunities.

Group Volunteer Opportunities

The Museum’s Volunteer program welcomes groups of volunteers for a day of service. Tasks can be indoors or outdoors, working with the departments of Landscaping, Animal Habitat Maintenance, Exhibits Maintenance, or Science Education Resource Center. We can generally accommodate 5-10 people in each of those departments, and larger groups can be split between activities. Group projects generally last 2-3 hours and are scheduled Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm. We are closed on Mondays from September through February, which means that we are especially welcoming of volunteer groups on these days to help with the many maintenance tasks that happen during this time period.
Below are the categories of projects that group volunteers participate in. Please note that not all projects are available at all times. The best strategy for scheduling a group project is to present a variety of days and times so that we can find time that works best for both the group and the Museum.

Animal Department: The Museum plays host to a variety of animals, including black bears, red wolves, lemurs, cattle, pigs, alpacas, and goats outdoors, and numerous reptiles and program animals kept indoors. Volunteers help us maintain the animals’ habitats so that they are safe, clean and pleasant for both our animals and our visitors. Work is usually outdoors and physical.
Outdoor Landscape Environments: The Museum sits on 84 acres, and our small landscaping team welcomes groups of hardworking individuals interested in helping maintain all of our outdoor areas like Hideaway Woods, Into the Mist, the Dinosaur Trail, and our many pathways and trails throughout the grounds. Work is outdoors and physical.
Innovation and Learning Department: We have a group of educators who develop and administer programming to people of all ages at the Museum and through our outreach programs in local schools. Work in this department is generally indoors, and falls into one of two categories:

  • Science Education Resource Center: Behind-the-scenes assistance with our science kit contract with Durham Public Schools in which our Innovation and Learning team creates and assembles science kits for every elementary school classroom in Durham Public Schools. Duties include sorting, inventorying and assembling the kits.
  • General Department Assistance: Behind-the-scenes assistance maintaining our classroom environments. Duties may include cleaning, sorting, and organizing education materials.

Exhibits Maintenance: Assist Exhibits Maintenance Team in upkeep, repair, and maintenance of Museum exhibits and fixtures, cleaning, vacuuming, and washing various exhibit components, general Exhibit assistance.

Special Event Opportunities

  • Bilingual Meet a Scientist Day | Sunday, April 9, 2017 - Volunteers are needed to help with Spanish translation/bilingual program facilitation, 11am-5pm.
  • Dino Egg Hunt 2017: Volunteers are needed for Friday-Sunday, April 14-16. Friday and Saturday shifts are 9:30a-1:30p and 1p-5p. Sunday shifts are 12p-5p. We are shooting for 8-12 volunteers per shift. This event is outdoors, so everyone will want to dress for the weather conditions. Morning can be cool but then the afternoon could turn pretty warm. You are welcome to dress casually and wear a group t-shirt.

    After Hours, 21+ Events: Groups of volunteers are welcome to have their own table at these evening events to present research or products in an interactive way. Each event has its own theme, so the presentations would relate to the theme in some way. Volunteers would need to be here 5:30p-10:30p.Upcoming events for 2016-2017 include: Tinker + Taste (11/10/16), Science of Wine (2/23/17), Cocktails and Cosmonauts (4/20/17), Science of Eats (6/1/17) 

For more information, contact:
Emma Nadeau | Volunteer Coordinator
P: 919.220.5429 x302

Current Volunteers

Don't forget to log your hours on the Track it Forward website! While you're there, check for volunteer sign-ups for the bond campaign and Tinker+Taste.

Log your hours

Members receive UNLIMITED admission all year long!