The Marine Mammal Center’s Youth Volunteer Program introduces students ages 15 to 17 to the work of the Center and to the importance of volunteerism.
This experience allows students to work alongside adults, develop interpersonal skills, observe a variety of marine science related careers and gives them the opportunity to be involved in marine mammal conservation.
Applicants must be:
• Interested, flexible and self-motivated
• Between 15 and 17 years of age*
• Able to make a commitment to one 4 to 8 hour shift for a minimum of 8 weeks
• Able to arrange their own transportation to and from The Marine Mammal Center**
• Able to attend both the orientation and training days at The Marine Mammal Center
Youth Animal Care Volunteers gain a deeper understanding of the marine mammal patients at our hospital, why they are here, how they are cared for and what we learn from them. Animal care volunteers provide the daily care of the animals, which includes general cleaning, laundry, dishes, equipment maintenance, weighing, charting records, and preparing food for feeding (and other duties at the discretion of the Crew Supervisor and Youth Volunteer Coordinator). Youth volunteers may have direct contact with the animals but that contact is at the discretion of the Crew Supervisor and Youth Volunteer Coordinator, and is dependent upon the volunteer's performance and a variety of other circumstances.
Youth Education Volunteers expand their knowledge of marine mammals, The Marine Mammal Center, and ocean health, and also techniques of best ways to communicate with and engage visitors. Education volunteers play a vital role in promoting public awareness of marine wildlife and the Center’s work by engaging guests that visit the hospital, directing them to viewing areas, and answering questions they may have regarding the animals and the hospital. They inspire visitors to better appreciate the ocean and help protect the animals that live in it. Applicants should enjoy learning about marine life and sharing their knowledge with others. Youth volunteers interested in this program must attend a two day training series that will run concurrently with the Youth Volunteer training.
Applicants must submit the 3-part application, two 250-word essays, a letter of recommendation from a teacher and an emergency waiver.
We require a commitment of one 4 to 8 hour volunteer shift per week for a minimum of 8 weeks. There is a $50 fee once applicants are accepted into the program.**
*Those that are in high school and 18 years of age may become an adult volunteer, but have the ability to use the Youth Volunteer Coordinator as a mentor or supervisor for school-related projects.
**Some students may qualify for a financial scholarship that covers the cost of transportation and/or provides transportation. The registration fee will be waived if an applicant receives a financial scholarship.
If you are interested in applying, read the Frequently Asked Questions below and follow the instructions to apply.
The next application deadline is January 10th, 2014 for volunteering during the spring semester (approximately February to April) and hopefully longer.
The following deadline after January 10th, 2014 will be May 2014, for our 2014 Summer Session.
Frequently Asked Questions about the
Youth Volunteer Program
What is the application process?
You are required to fill out an application and waiver form (available online), complete two 250-word essays and submit a letter of recommendation from a teacher. These items make up the application packet and are required to be submitted by the posted due date (this varies each season). Incomplete application packets and those that arrive after the due date will not be considered. Once the application packet is received by the Youth Volunteer Coordinator, we will contact you to confirm that your application packet has been received in full. Each applicant is required to attend a Youth Orientation Meeting; this is usually held one week after the deadline from 1 to 4 p.m. The orientation will give you a better understanding of what it’s like to be a youth volunteer. If you are still interested in volunteering after attending the Youth Orientation, you will schedule a one-on-one interview with the Youth Volunteer Coordinator, generally the week after the Youth Orientation Meeting. After the interview you will be notified if you are officially accepted into the program. If you are accepted, you need to attend a Youth Volunteer Training Class, which will generally occur within 2 weeks of the Interviews. Lastly, we will finalize your volunteer shift and you can get started!
What will I be doing when volunteering?
You will be participating in a number of different tasks ranging from but not limited to, food preparation (thawing and sorting fish), making fish milkshakes, weighing out fish for feeds, washing dishes, cleaning pens, observing feeds, cleaning carriers, helping to weigh animals, and washing and folding laundry. These are some of the daily tasks that all animal care volunteers do at the hospital. You may also have the opportunity to observe medical exams and other veterinary procedures.
You will be engaging visitors as an Education Docent. You will greet visitors upon their arrival, answer frequently asked questions, and enhance their overall visitor experience. You will be interacting with guests in either the Exhibit Hall or the animal viewing platform. You may also have the opportunity to observe classroom programs, tours and volunteer enrichment presentations.
Once accepted as a Youth Volunteer, how often am I required to show up?
Your commitment is to work on one shift a week for a minimum of 8 out of 10 contiguous weeks.
If you are placed on a day crew you must arrive at 7:00 a.m. and will be expected to stay through 3:00 p.m. (or maybe later during the busy season). If you are placed on a night crew you must arrive at 6:30 p.m. and you will be expected to stay through 9:30 p.m. You can stay later if your schedule permits (i.e. you do not have school the next day).
If you are placed on a morning shift you must arrive at 9:30 a.m. and will be expected to stay through 1:30 p.m. If you are placed on an afternoon shift you must arrive at 1:15 p.m. and will be expected to stay through 5:15 p.m.
What if I miss a shift?
You must inform both your Crew Supervisor and the Youth Volunteer Coordinator. If you miss more than one shift without advising both your Crew Supervisor and the Youth Volunteer Coordinator you will be asked to leave the program.
Can I volunteer longer than 8 weeks?
Yes, it is highly encouraged. The Marine Mammal Center has many youth volunteers that have been with the program for 3+ years. Some youth volunteers have continued volunteering after High School and thus “graduating” into the ranks of the adult volunteers.
Are there advantages to volunteering longer than 8 weeks?
Yes, the longer you volunteer, the more experience and confidence that you gain, the better your chances are of having the opportunity to participate in the hands-on care of our patients. You will learn more about this at the Youth Orientation Meeting.
Will I be able to train animals during my time at The Marine Mammal Center?
No, we are a hospital for marine mammals. We do not train our patients. Our goal is to release them back out into the wild. We do not talk around the animals, or motion to them to come close to us. We keep them as wild as possible during their stay at our hospital.
Are there rules and restrictions specifically for youth volunteers?
Yes, you will learn more about these at the Youth Orientation Meeting.
Does The Marine Mammal Center have busy and slow seasons?
Yes, the fall and winter tend to be our slower seasons. Our busy season usually is the spring which we refer to it as “pupping season,” because of the influx of elephant and harbor seal pups. However, there are times when an outbreak of disease or an event in the ocean causes an influx of patients and a slow season maybe more active than normal.
Is there a best season to start volunteering?
Yes and no, anytime is a good time to start volunteering for a good cause. However, since the fall and winter are slower there is not as much to do, and we don't have application periods. We do have application periods every spring and summer, as those are the busiest times, but those that have been accepted to the program do have the ability to volunteer into the fall and winter. During the Youth Orientation Meeting the Youth Volunteer Coordinator will let you know about timing, work load and open volunteer shifts.
Is there a fee for volunteering at The Marine Mammal Center?
Yes, there is a $50 fee for youth volunteers at The Marine Mammal Center. The fee covers the cost of the training classes and materials. This fee is expected to be paid after you have been officially accepted into the program (not before or during the Orientation). Please bring it to the Training Class. (See below for information about our financial scholarships)
2013 Youth Volunteer Application Deadlines
The next application deadline is January 10th, 2014 for the spring semester. We do not accept youth volunteers in the fall and winter.
Applications received after the deadlines above will not be considered.
- Once your application is received, the Youth Volunteer Coordinator will email you confirming that you are invited to attend the Orientation.
- After your application has been verified as complete, there is a mandatory Youth Volunteer Orientation on a Saturday in January 2014 (exact date & time TBD) held at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.
- The interviews will be scheduled during the following two weeks between 10 a.m and 5 p.m.
- If you are accepted into the program, there is a mandatory Youth Volunteer Training class held on Saturday in February (exact date & time TBD) held at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.
The Orientation, Interview and Training are NOT optional; you MUST attend them if you are applying to be a Youth Volunteer at The Marine Mammal Center.
Remember, there is a $50 fee for youth volunteers at The Marine Mammal Center. The fee covers the cost of the training classes and materials. This fee is expected to be paid after you have been officially accepted into the program. If you are accepted into the program, please bring the fee to the Training Class. However, we do not want this fee to hinder anyone from applying and offer a limited number of financial scholarships.*
*The Marine Mammal Center does offer financial scholarship opportunities for students who qualify. The financial scholarships will help with transportation, either through reimbursement or providing transportation, if needed. Financial scholarship recipients will also have their registration fee waived and be provided with boots and slickers if working with the animals. Financial scholarship recipients will be decided after the interview process.
Youth Application and Waiver Form
The application and waiver for the Youth Volunteer Program at The Marine Mammal Center can be found here. Make sure to include the following items in your application packet before the deadline:
- Complete and return the entire application which includes the following:
- Two 250 word essays
- Waiver - you and your parent need to sign this!
- Letter of recommendation from a teacher
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