Trails are open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (last trail admission at 3:30 p.m.) Cruises run daily. BUY TICKETS
Box turtle held by volunteer

Volunteer

Volunteer with us and share your enthusiasm!

There are many trails to explore at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center - through woods, up hills, and across the marsh, but a different path of adventure awaits those who volunteer. Volunteering at the Science Center presents opportunities to learn something new and meet interesting people while sharing your talents and skills. The Science Center is here for you!


Questions? Contact Volunteer Manager Carol Raymond at 603-968-7194 x 122 or email

Volunteer Opportunities

Docent

Docent assisting with Natural AdventureDocents are trained to interpret our exhibit trail and New Hampshire’s natural world and act as a welcoming and informative presence for visitors, using educational props and live animals. Docents are most active on our exhibit trails May through October, but opportunities are available year-round. They can also be found assisting naturalists with programs, leading tours, and hosting hands-on Discovery Tables at fairs, festivals, and other community events throughout the year. A formal training program is offered each year to train new docents. Training is a 40-hour commitment. Docents must be 18 years of age or older.


Group Volunteers

College volunteer groupVolunteer groups from organizations such as businesses and schools are invited to schedule a day of service ranging from two to six hours. A variety of projects may be available, such as removing invasive plant species, special events assistance, and trail upkeep.


Special Events

Volunteers assist with many special events held throughout the year including Clean-Up Day, Kirkwood Gardens Day, and Halloween Hoot ‘N Howl. Volunteer activities may include planning, registration, games and crafts supervision, set-up and clean-up, and food preparation and service.


Office

Office volunteers help communicate with the public by assisting with mailings, copying, filing, and data entry. Most assignments are in the Welcome Center or the Volunteer Room. Volunteers must maintain confidentiality of information and be respectful of office procedures and co-workers. Volunteers will be on call for assignments. Volunteers working on special projects may be assigned a weekly or bi-weekly schedule, with shifts typically lasting two to four hours.


Kirkwood Gardens

Volunteer at Kirkwood Gardens.Garden volunteers help to maintain beautiful Kirkwood Gardens. Novice gardeners are welcome and will work alongside experienced gardeners and staff. Assignments include gardening, planning and helping with plant sales and garden tours, turning compost, operating light machinery, and moving garden supplies. Work sessions are Thursday mornings, 8:30 a.m.– 11:30 a.m., May through October. Volunteers are welcome to participate without committing to a regular schedule. Youth 12 to 15 may apply if accompanied by an adult.


Volunteer Instructor

Volunteer Instructors work closely with naturalists to prepare and provide interactive classes for children. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and possess maturity, patience, and skill in working with elementary through high school students. Attendance at a six-hour training session is required to become qualified to independently lead spring and fall activities. Background checks are required of all Volunteer Instructors. Volunteer Instructors are on-call to assist classes that are one to two hours in length, scheduled between 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday year round.


Lake Education Assistant

Volunteers in this assignment assist with Lake Education programs. Lake Education Assistants help students use lake monitoring equipment aboard pontoon boats. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, and possess maturity, patience, and skill while interacting with elementary and high school age students. Lake Education Assistants are most active in May and June, with some opportunities available in the summer and fall. A two-hour training is offered annually in April.


Greeters

Volunteer with pelt on the trail.Volunteer Greeters provide a welcoming presence for visitors and school groups. During the fall and spring, volunteers greet arriving school groups, review schedules with them, and help orient them. During the busy summer months, greeters staff an information station at the Trailhead Gallery. Greeters may also be stationed on the trail to answer questions. All Greeter positions are scheduled according to the availability of the volunteer. Youth between 12 and 15 may apply if accompanied by an adult.


Animal Care

Animal Care volunteer responsibilities include feeding and cleaning the enclosures of turtles, snakes, mealworms, and cockroaches, preparing diets for program mammals, and assisting with other daily chores. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, capable of working independently, and care for animals in a thoughtful and professional manner. Animal Care volunteers must have proof of current tetanus vaccination and health insurance, and are required to sign an assumption of risk and liability waiver. Animal Care positions are available year-round, and volunteers must commit to at least 40 hours of service in their first year. Volunteers will have a regular two-hour morning shift scheduled on the same day each week from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.


Exhibits and Maintenance

Several volunteer positions fall under this category, including ground-level exhibit window washing, prepping and splitting cord wood, and invasive species removal. Volunteers assist in maintaining an attractive, healthy, and safe environment for our visitors. Volunteers in this assignment are on-call; regularly scheduled shifts may be available from May through October. Youth 12 to 15 years old may apply if accompanied by an adult.


First Guides Program

Docent and first guide with saw-whet owl.First Guides is a teen volunteer program based on our adult docent program. During the summer, teens between the ages of 14 and 17 attend training to become a welcoming and informative presence on the exhibit trail, often demonstrating animal artifacts alongside volunteer docent mentors with live animals. Volunteer opportunities are available throughout the year. Funding for this project was provided by the Bea and Woolsey Conover Fund of the Lakes Region/New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.


Volunteer FAQs

What is Squam Lakes Natural Science Center?

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, founded in 1966, is a non-profit organization located in rural Holderness, New Hampshire on 200 acres adjacent to beautiful Squam Lake. Its mission is to advance understanding of ecology by exploring New Hampshire’s natural world. The Science Center’s main attraction is a live animal exhibit trail featuring native wildlife in natural enclosures. Associated with each animal are a series of interactive exhibits that teach about the natural world. Featured attractions also include Science Center Lake Cruises, offering guided excursions on Squam Lake, and beautiful Kirkwood Gardens.

What kind of experience do I need?

We welcome volunteers with all levels of experience with the desire to learn and the willingness to share! Many volunteer opportunities require little prior knowledge, and other areas require training.

What kind of commitment do I have to make?

The amount of time you spend volunteering at the Science Center is up to you. Some volunteer assignments, such as our Docent Program, do have an annual time requirement, but most do not.

Is training provided?

All new volunteers must attend an orientation session with the Volunteer Coordinator. Volunteers receive on-the-job training for all assignments. Some assignments may require completion of a formal training program.

What are the benefits of volunteering?

The greatest rewards of volunteering are unseen, but here are some other benefits we hope you will enjoy:
  • Volunteer newsletter and other publications
  • Use of the Unsworth Library
  • Monthly Volunteer Luncheons — held at a local restaurant or potlucks on site
  • Howling Coyote Gift Shop discount
  • Membership discount
  • Free trail admission on the days you volunteer

How are volunteer efforts recognized?

Volunteers hear many thank yous as they volunteer, not only from staff, but from our visitors as well! Volunteers are recognized in Symbiosis, the volunteer newsletter, and annually at our Parsons Volunteer Recognition Dinner, including the annual awards ceremony. Volunteers are also recognized with our volunteer appreciation displays located in the Trailhead Gallery.

Apply to become a volunteer

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