Volunteering at Henson Robinson Zoo

Henson Robinson Zoo offers unique and exciting opportunities for volunteering. There are three volunteer programs in which you may choose to participate.

While you may choose to pursue only one program, volunteers are encouraged to participate in as many as they want.

The Henson Robinson Zoo Mission

To enhance the education of our community to wildlife and its conservation while providing an enjoyable and recreational experience. We shall achieve our mission by providing a veriety of educational opportunities that increase the awareness of nature and our environment and by developing naturalistic exhibits that create a greater appreciation for wildlife.

Animal Enrichment Volunteers

Animal enrichment volunteers participate in activities and create items that are focused on enhancing the animals' physical and psychological being.

Some of these items include puzzle feeders, toys, treats, paper mache items, ice treats and more.

Also, items such as new branches, herbs and logs are also introduced to the animals to mimic natural environments.

Requirements of Animal Enrichment Volunteers

There is a minimum of ten volunteer hours required quarterly for a total of 40 hours for the year. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old.

How to become a volunteer...


do·cent (doe-sent)
  1. A teacher or lecturer at a university who is not a regular faculty member.
  2. A lecturer or tour guide in a museum, zoo or cathedral.
Who Are Docents?
Docents are adult volunteers at the Henson Robinson Zoo that assist with educational activities and special events. You must be 18 or older to become a Docent. However, you may begin training to become a Docent if you will be turning 18 that year.

What Do Docents Do?
The number one Docent activity is “Close Encounters,” in which you would take one of our people friendly education animals out on zoo grounds and let visitors get an up close experience while answering their questions about that animal. You might also volunteer for “Animal Ambassadors” in which you would answer visitor questions at your favorite animal’s exhibit. In addition, you could volunteer to assist us with one of our special events, education classes, Zoo To You programs, or amphitheater animal programs. You would have opportunities to groom and walk our equines and shadow zookeepers as well!

How Do You Become A Docent?
To become a Docent, you must complete the 10 session Docent training course held on Saturdays from 9:30 to 12:00 January through March. If training classes have already begun or have finished for the year, contact the Education Curator at (217)585-1821 or emcevoy@hensonrobinsonzoo.org to be placed on the contact list for the next training session. You will be contacted when registration for the training course begins. Your registration and waiver forms registration form [PDF, 63k] and a one time fee of $100.00 for the training course may be submitted to the zoo at that time.
Once training is finished, you will be free to volunteer as a Docent any day of the week or weekend, at any time during zoo hours, and for the activity of your choice. Docents must volunteer for a minimum of 15 hours per year.

Special Event Volunteers

Special Event Volunteers volunteer their time for one of several activities during one of the zoo's many special events. Some of the tasks a volunteer may be given include wearing costumes, running children's games & crafts, vendor set-up and clean-up, photo taking, turtle races and much more!

Requirements of Special Event Volunteers

Special Event Volunteers may attend one special event or many. Shifts on these days are flexible. Special Event Volunteers must be at least 16 years old.

How to become a volunteer

The first step in becoming a volunteer at the Henson Robinson Zoo is to fill out registration and waiver forms registration form [PDF, 63k]. Please return these forms to: Henson Robinson Zoo, 1100 East Lake Drive, Springfield, Illinois 62712.