New York Aquarium Docent Opportunities

Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS


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.


To get involved, print and fill out an application. You must be at least 15 years or older by the deadline date to apply. Admission to the program is competitive. After an interview and orientation, accepted candidates must complete an intensive 7-day training course (see training schedule below).

Applications are accepted beginning March 1st until May 25th for the summer, academic year, and year-long docent opportunities. The training includes sessions on marine science, public speaking skills, and activities designed to foster good relations among docents. 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. 

  • Summer Teen Docents (July 2, 2014–September 1, 2014)
    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. 
  • Academic Year Teen Docents (September 15, 2013–June 30, 2014)
    Open to high school students, ages 15–18. Participants must volunteer once every other week during volunteer shifts in the mornings (9:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.), afternoons (1:00–5:00 p.m., weekends only), or full days (9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.), totaling 150 service hours and 5 education hours.
  • Adult Docents (1 year from the start date)
    Open to those out of high school, aged 18 years and older. Participants must volunteer either once a week during volunteer shifts in the mornings (9:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.) or afternoons (1:00–5:00 p.m., weekends only), OR full days (9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.) once every other week, for 1 year, in addition to completing 5 education hours. 

Application Process & Training Sessions

We accept applications for consideration from March 1st to May 25th each year. All applications must be complete and submitted no later than 4:00pm EST on May 25th. An orientation and interview are mandatory. We will call you to schedule an interview after we received and reviewed your completed application. Late, incomplete or illegible applications will not be considered.

Please note that due to the high number of applicants, not everyone is called for an interview. Applicants who are not selected for an interview will be notified by email. If accepted into the docent program, you will be required to attend the 7-day training courses, which take place from 10:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. each day. Please check the training dates below and be sure that you can attend all of the dates before applying to the program. All days of training are mandatory.

Applicants who have been interviewed for the summer training class will receive notification of their acceptance by June 8th. Applicants that have been interviewed for the fall training class will receive their notification of acceptance by July 25th.

Summer Training Course
For summer and year-long docents
 Fall Training Course
For academic-year and year-long docents
Saturday, June 21, 2014  Saturday, August 16, 2014
Sunday, June 22, 2014  Sunday, August 17, 2014
Friday, June 27, 2014  Saturday, August 23, 2014
Saturday, June 28, 2014  Sunday, August 24, 2014
Sunday, June 29, 2014  Saturday, September 6, 2014
Monday, June 30, 2014  Sunday, September 7, 2014
Tuesday, July 1, 2014  Saturday, September 13, 2014

Download the application.
Download the teacher recommendation form.


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