Volunteer at the Nature Center


As an approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization we rely on volunteers every day to help us in all aspects of the center. You can man the front desk, work in the Nature Store, help care for our animals, perform trail maintenance, stuff envelopes, or work at any of our many special events, from the Wild Mushroom Festival to our annual Gala.

The Nature Center is always pleased to help young people with community service projects, including Scouts, local groups, or businesses looking for employee volunteer opportunities.

As a volunteer, you can share your enthusiasm and appreciation of the environment with others, increase your own knowledge of the natural world, spend time outside and meet people with similar interests. Whether you want to work with children, adults, animals, or just need an excuse to get outdoors, the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center has opportunities for you.

Volunteer opportunities exist for adults and young adults to work for a single day, as a part of service day, or on a recurring basis. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please complete the volunteer application at the bottom of this page.

Benefits of Volunteering at DPNC

  • Enjoy lifelong nature experiences and sharing your love of nature with others
  • On-the-job training in our fun, friendly (and sometimes quirky) work environment
  • Opportunities to meet other people who share your passion
  • More opportunities to hang out with the Nature Center resident animals!

More information about specific volunteer opportunities is below. If you have any questions about our volunteer program, please contact Chelle Farrand at cfarrand@dpnc.org or 860.536.1216 ext. 22153. Thank you for your interest in becoming a volunteer!

Volunteer Opportunities


Reptile and Amphibian Feeding Volunteer

Are you fascinated by reptiles and looking to be more hands-on? Our Reptile and Amphibian Feeding Volunteers are responsible for feeding our resident reptiles and amphibians, as well as spot cleaning enclosures. Our reptile/amphibian residents include aquatic turtles, box turtles, snakes, frogs, and toads. The shift for this volunteer opportunity is three hours long.

Minimum Age: 18


Birds of Prey Feeding Volunteer

Are birds of prey your favorite here at DPNC? We are looking for volunteers to serve as Birds of Prey Feeding Volunteers. In this role volunteers will be responsible for feeding all of our birds, including birds of prey, and spot cleaning enclosures. Volunteers serving in this role must be comfortable thawing and preparing frozen mice for feeding. Birds of prey can be intimidating and territorial, so volunteers with a calm personality are preferred. Birds of prey include, owls, falcons, hawks, and a variety of other birds. The shifts for this volunteer opportunity are three hours.

Minimum Age: 18

** Each Animal Care volunteer must go through a period of shadowing before they work on their own, and may be assigned additional miscellaneous tasks such as invertebrate feeding/tank maintenance, feeding/cage maintenance of our resident rabbit, thorough cleaning of snake enclosures, thorough cleaning of birds of prey enclosures, exhibit cleaning, giving turtle baths, moss collecting, and laundry.

Teen Camp Volunteers

Do you enjoy spending time outdoors? Do you have a passion for children and animals? We have part- and full-time opportunities available with our youngest summer camp programs. At the Nature Center, we couldn’t be more grateful for the quality that our volunteers bring to the camp experience. They assist the counselors with daily routines, along with hiking, pond dipping, art projects, animal encounters, reading stories and playing games.

  • Participate from 4-8 hours per day, mostly outside in all kinds of weather
  • Be willing to engage in all activities to the best of your abilities
  • Be a supportive and positive role model


  • Assist the counselors with daily routines, along with hiking, pond dipping, art projects, animal encounters, reading stories and playing games
  • Participate from 4-8 hours per day, mostly outside in all kinds of weather
  • Be willing to engage in all activities to the best of your abilities
  • Be a supportive and positive role model


  • Must enjoy and be comfortable working with children between 3 and 8 years old
  • Maintain a positive, patient and respectful approach with campers, families and staff
  • Must not be afraid of snakes, spiders or getting dirty and/or wet
  • We prefer full week commitments for consistency.  Exceptions can be considered

Minimum Age: 13


Classroom Assistant

Do you enjoy working with kids of all ages?  Are you looking to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards? Then the Education department needs your help! We are looking for volunteers interested in sharing their passion for the natural world. Volunteers assist Education staff with programming that ranges from working with preschool students to school groups in classrooms at the Nature Center and in schools. Not only will you help to shape the minds of the young and old but you will also increase your own knowledge of local species of flora, fauna and more.

Minimum Age: 18


  • Familiarize self with class outlines
  • Maintain a working knowledge of Nature Center animals and exhibits
  • Assist Nature Center educators in teaching classroom and field programs for students of all ages
  • Travel with Nature Center educators to present outreach programs at local schools
  • Present programs within the Nature Center
  • Perform all other duties assigned


  • Communication skills
  • Enjoy working with children
  • Enthusiastic personality
  • Some biology and public speaking experience is helpful
  • A background check will be conducted

Looking for a great way to support DPNC, but prefer to stay in the climate-controlled area of the offices? Want to strengthen your office skills, help out behind the scenes and see the many areas that make the Nature Center tick? We’re looking for help with all sorts of office work and projects from mailings to data entry.

Minimum Age: 15


General office work (labeling, sorting, filing, copying, etc.)


  • Computer skills (Microsoft office experience is helpful)
  • Strong customer service skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Phone skills
Trail Maintenance

Do you enjoy the great outdoors, working with your hands and helping to blaze a trail? The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center is looking for both experienced trail volunteers and those looking to learn more about the nuts and bolts of trail work to help maintain the various hiking trails around the Nature Center and Coogan Farm. Tasks for trail volunteers will involve one or more of the following: mowing, brush clearing, pruning, sawing, re-painting tree blazes, clearing culverts of debris, invasive species removal and litter pickup depending upon the time of year. For example, brush cutting is done yearly around July and November, spring cleanup in April, and invasive species removal at certain intervals.

When you join DPNC as a Trail Maintenance Volunteer you can expect to meet intriguing people, experience the beauty and wonders of nature, put in a hard day’s work, and “do something for the greater good.”

Minimum Age: 16


Giving Garden

Would you like to use your love of the outdoors to help give back to the community? If so, the DPNC Giving Garden is the place for you. We are looking for at least 15 people per day to assist us with our garden at the Coogan Farm Nature and Heritage Center growing produce for donation to the Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor Food Center, which distributes food across New London County. Giving Garden volunteers help with planting, weeding, watering and compost building. We will teach you everything you need to know. We supply the tools, cool drinks and good company. A commitment is not required, do what you can when you can – though repeat volunteers are greatly appreciated! Time frames: Monday thru Thursday, 8:00am to 4:00pm, Saturdays 9:00am to 1:00pm.

Working in the Giving Garden has many benefits; a heartwarming feeling from knowing you are helping neighbors who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, a chance to meet new people from a wide variety of backgrounds, a good work out and fresh air.


Coogan Farm

Do you appreciate working outdoors and have experience with chain saws, brush cutters etc.? If so, we are looking for you! Bring your saws, weed whackers, etc. and volunteer at Coogan Farm. We need assistance with brush cutting, stone wall repair, weed whacking, tree cutting. The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center created the 45-acre Coogan Farm Nature and Heritage Center. It is the last parcel of undeveloped farmland between downtown Mystic, Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium. The property, with sweeping views of the Mystic River, contains 370 years of American history, four early successional habitats supporting more than 10 species listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as high conservation priority, and protects two crucial watersheds. With your help at Coogan Farm, nature and history can shape the future for our children and our community.

Additional opportunities


Special Events

Are you an outgoing and enthusiastic person who enjoys working with people of all ages? We are looking for volunteers to assist with special events throughout the year that can range from family events to fundraisers, assisting with crafts, parking, games, and a variety of other duties. Event time frames vary, but do include the Woodland Egg Hunt in March, Mushroom Festival in September, Spooky Nature Trail and the Green-Tie Gala in October.

Minimum Age: 16

Community Service Hours

If you need hours to fulfill a school, club, organization, or association requirement please fill out the Community Service Form here.

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