Touchpool Volunteers facilitate the two interactive exhibits in the ABQ BioPark Aquarium: the Invertebrate Touchpool and the Shark and Ray Encounter.
16 and older
Touchpool volunteers under age 18 must work with an adult volunteer or staff person.
Minimum time commitment:
60 hours per year
Upcoming Training Dates:
If you would like to volunteer at the BioPark, complete an Volunteer Interest Form.
Aquarium and Botanic Garden Education Department
2601 Central Avenue. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104
Touchpool Volunteers teach with a variety of marine animals including invertebrates, sharks and stingrays. These animals serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts.
Help visitors understand how our actions affect the health of the ocean and how we can protect this delicate ecosystem and its inhabitants.
- Anyone over 16 years old. Teens under age 18 must work with an adult volunteer or staff person at all times.
- Enthusiasm, flexibility, a commitment to teaching conservation, a sense of responsibility, and patience working with visitors.
- You must also be able to tolerate your hands in salt water for most of the shift
- Must demonstrate proper handling and safety techniques.
- The required knowledge is taught.
- As a safety precaution, all applicants are required to submit to a City of Albuquerque background check before they can begin volunteering and an annual security check thereafter.
- Touchpool Volunteers only work in the Shark and Ray Encounter or at the Invertebrate Touchpool exhibits, and no other areas of the Aquarium.
- Touchpool Volunteers are responsible for the safety of the animals that they are working with and must notify the Education staff of any potential animal husbandry issues.
- Touchpool Volunteers teach about the animals and supervise the visitor/animal contact in the Shark and Ray Encounter and Invertebrate Touchpool. Visitors may only interact with the animals when a volunteer is present to explain the natural history of the animals and to guide visitors in appropriate contact techniques.
- Touchpool volunteers may work anytime the Aquarium is open: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., seven days a week, year round.
- Hours may vary based on the season and Education event needs.
- Scheduling is the responsibility of the Touchpool Volunteer. A regular 2-hour weekly shift is encouraged but not required.
- Touchpool Volunteers must notify Education staff if they are not available to make a shift.
- A minimum of 60 hours a year is required to receive recognition as a BioPark Education Volunteer. At least 30 hours of these must be spent directly working as a Touchpool Volunteer; the remaining 30 hours may also be spent directly working as a Touchpool Volunteer or doing support work for BioPark Education.
- Volunteers are responsible for tracking their own hours on an honor system.
- Training to become a Touchpool Volunteer begins with a one-day orientation that provides information about the BioPark and the Touchpool Volunteer duties.
- Additional on-the-job training with staff and/or experienced volunteers is required in order to become a "Certified Touchpool Volunteer."
- Additional training includes: completing four, two-hour shadowing shifts; participating in a hands-on practical demonstration to verify knowledge and understanding of correct protocol and procedures; and the completion of a brief quiz of the Touchpool animals’ biology.
- All BioPark Volunteers will be issued a volunteer identification badge, which must be worn while a volunteer is on duty.
- The BioPark Volunteer uniform consists of appropriate solid-colored clothing (blouse/shirt and pants/shorts/skirts).
- Approved volunteer uniform colors include: black, brown, khaki and white. Colors must be solid with no patterns or writing.
- Blue jeans are not considered appropriate for a Touchpool Volunteer.
- Comfortable shoes with good, non-slip tread are recommended.
- Touchpool Volunteers wear a blue Volunteer vest provided by BioPark Education. While on duty, this vest is a required part of the uniform.
- Volunteers are responsible for acquiring and wearing the BioPark Volunteer uniform while on duty.
- BioPark Education Volunteers have the opportunity to do meaningful and gratifying education work with thousands of visitors to the BioPark, which is an important intangible benefit.
- The volunteer identification badge allows the volunteer free regular admission to all BioPark facilities (Zoo, Aquarium, and Botanic Garden).
- While on duty, volunteers receive a 20% discount at the food vendors, restaurants and gift shops.
- Volunteers are offered discounts to all fee-based BioPark Education programs and are invited to special volunteer-only events throughout the year.
- After the end of each calendar year, volunteers are awarded recognition items for their service, based on the completion of the minimum 60 hours of service.
Resources exist throughout the BioPark to help volunteers fulfill their duties.
- Education staff is available to provide assistance.
- The Education libraries are located in the Zoo and Aquarium/Botanic Garden Education Buildings; they are a resource available to all BioPark Volunteers.
- Monthly Education meetings are held on the first Thursday and first Saturday of each month, and all Volunteers are encouraged to attend. Meetings cover current BioPark happenings and facility-specific information. The same material is discussed at both sessions.
- Volunteers are also invited to attend monthly Brown Bag Seminars following the meetings, as well as other lectures and workshops throughout the year.
- Volunteers receive our monthly BioPark Volunteer update to stay current on all BioPark news, Education programs, events, and resources.
- Information on current events is posted in the Volunteer Communication Room at the AQ/BG Education Building or in the Zoo Education Barn.
BioPark Education Volunteers are responsible for acquiring their own uniform clothing.
How to Join
What to Bring
Bring a photo ID to accompany the background check form. We recommend packing a lunch and/or snacks for this full day training. Please bring a water bottle, hat and sunscreen. Most of the training will be spent indoors.