Volunteers are the key to the National Marine Life Center’s success! Every hour of service is a valued contribution to NMLC’s mission of rehabilitating and releasing stranded marine mammals and sea turtles, advancing science, and educating about marine wildlife health and conservation. There is a volunteer experience for everyone!


  1. Volunteers must fill out a volunteer application and attend a New Volunteer Orientation.
  2. Before proceeding with training and scheduling, volunteers must pay a Volunteer Training Fee of $35.00.
  3. Volunteers must commit to at least six months of service and volunteer at least twelve hours per year to remain an active volunteer.
  4. Animal Care volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. Also, they must commit to at least six months of service and volunteer at least one shift (typically 4-5 hours or 1/2 day) weekly or two shifts (typically 8-9 hours or 1 work day) biweekly to remain an active volunteer.
  5. Junior Animal Care Volunteers must be at least 14 years of age. Also, they must commit to at least six months of service and volunteer at least one shift (typically 1-2 hours) weekly to remain an active volunteer.
  6. Animal care volunteers must attend two Animal Care Team Meetings per year to remain an active volunteer.
  7. Volunteers are responsible for informing NMLC of changes in personal contact information via email to volunteer@nmlc.org or (508) 743-9888.


  • Gaining valuable hands on experience
  • A National Marine Life Center membership
  • Discount on purchases in our Discovery Center gift shop
  • Discounted rates on educational programs
  • Annual Volunteer Appreciation event
  • Continuing education and training
  • An opportunity to be part of our community

Roles & Departments

Administrative: Do you prefer to stay in a climate controlled environment? Maybe you’re interested in getting your feet wet, while not actually getting your feet wet? Or are you suffering from cabin fever from the brutal New England winter and looking for a change of scenery? We are looking for office help to assist with projects like filing, answering the phone, inputting data, maintaining our clippings files, and photocopying.

Animal Care Team (minimum age requirement 18): Joining our Animal Care Team is perfect for people who are interested in learning more about the care of our sea turtle and seal patients. Assist with the overall care of our marine animal patients, including: cleaning enclosures, preparing feeds, and maintaining our life support system. Assist in routine husbandry procedures including restraint for veterinary exams, tube feedings, and wound care. Work alongside our professional staff and gain knowledge about our local marine animals.

Discovery Center Docent: We are always looking for outgoing volunteers who enjoy engaging the public to great our guests as they visit and explore our Discovery Center. Help visitors explore our mission as you guide them around, providing the latest patient update and engaging them in crafts and activities. Our Discovery Center is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, weekends from Labor Day thru Columbus Day, February and April school vacation weeks, and periodically for special events.

Education Program & Fairs/Festival Team: Do you love teaching and sharing information about marine animals and ocean conservation? We are always looking for volunteers who are passionate about leaving an environmental and conservation impact on our current and future generations. Here at the National Marine Life Center, we do so with educational programs and fairs and festivals. Some of our programs include a summer day camp, Girl Scout and Boy Scout programs, school groups, home school groups, community organizations, and much more. During the summer and school vacations, we offer a number of drop in programs including ”Little Flippers” story and craft hour, and “Marine Animal Medical Mystery,” where children use models to learn about animal rehabilitation and research.

Facilities: Facilities Volunteers are the unsung heroes of the National Marine Life Center, helping to keep our operations running smoothly. From helping with yard work like weeding and landscaping, to shoveling snow, to helping maintain our physical plant and life support system, to any number of special projects, these Jacks and Jills of all trade are indispensable!

Fundraising: Are you the type who is lost without their calendar? Do you love to plan events? Have you ever dreamed of being a Mermaid, or maybe the next Olympic gold medalist runner? Join our fundraising committees for our Mermaid Ball; Feet, Fins, & Flippers 5K, or Spectacle of Trees. Or, help us with grant writing, gift processing, and other fundraising tasks.

Junior Animal Care Team: Are you interested in working with animals but are not yet 18 years old? You can still help! Our Junior Animal Care Team members are responsible for daily husbandry of our Red Bellied Cooters head start animals, our Diamondback Terrapin rehabilitation patients, and our Box Turtle collection animals. Responsibilities include cleaning, feeding, record keeping.

How to Become a Volunteer

Step 1: Complete a Volunteer Application.
Click Here for an on-line Volunteer Application OR
Click Here for a PDF Volunteer Application to print, complete, and mail in or drop off.

Applications are accepted all year round.

Step 2: Attend a New Volunteer Orientation, where you can learn more about the National Marine Life Center and our current volunteer opportunities.



Tuesday, September 28th 6:30-8:00 pm   Register here

Step 3: Once orientation is complete, decide on the department you are interested in and contact volunteer@nmlc.org to discuss the next steps. We will work with you to schedule the necessary training sessions for your area of interest.

Step 4: Pay a $35.00 volunteer training fee.

Step 5:
Complete training – including VIRTUAL reading materials with  quizzes and on-site “shadow shift” training.

Step 6: Join the family! Once you have completed the following steps, it’s time to be added to the volunteer schedule. We ask that volunteers commit to at least six months of service, with minimum hourly requirements depending on your volunteer position.

Note: Our Animal Care Department receives an abundance of applications for a limited number of spaces. Please be patient as we process these applications. Accepted volunteers may be put on a wait-list until a space becomes available.

For more information, contact Leah Vandermeer, Research Lab & Volunteer Coordinator, at 508-743-9888 or volunteer@nmlc.org.