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Chicago Master Gardener

A blog for Chicago Master Gardeners providing information on volunteer opportunities, training, workshops and resources.

Volunteer at Brookfield Zoo

Posted by Ron Wolford -

Please contact the Zoo directly to volunteer. eb

Brookfield Zoo Volunteer Program; Master Gardener Recruitment for Hamill Family Play Zoo

Are you passionate about nature and animals? Are you playful, fun-loving, and young at heart? Do you enjoy being outdoors? If so, we have a fantastic volunteer opportunity for you at Brookfield Zoo's Hamill Family Play Zoo. The Play Zoo is a special exhibit where children and their families play and interact with domestic animals, plants, and people to help them develop caring attitudes toward the natural world.

Brookfield Zoo is currently seeking certified active Master Gardeners to join our volunteer team at the Hamill Family Play Zoo. Master Gardeners facilitate garden-related activities in the Family Gardens and the Greenhouse (please note: Master Gardeners are not involved in any garden maintenance.)

Facilitated activities and related tasks include:

Planting seeds in yogurt cups

Planting/watering in the Family Gardens

Making seed people out of nylons, grass seed & soil

Drawing plant pictures for identification signs

Drilling holes in the bottom of yogurt cups

Cutting nylons for seed people

Cutting contact paper to cover ID-signs

Available volunteer shift/days

Shift: 10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Weekdays: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday – volunteer once a week from May through October

Weekends: Saturday or Sunday – volunteer every other Saturday or Sunday November through April

Next Steps

As you are thinking about your decision to join the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) Volunteer Program at Brookfield Zoo, please consider the following thinking points and note that all Master Gardeners become part of the CZS Volunteer Family and follow the structure of our volunteer program:

Why are CZS volunteers special?

We involve people in our volunteer program who understand they are making an extremely important commitment as the staff and volunteers work together closely. Your consistent attendance and commitment to our zoo and to the volunteer program is of utmost importance;

We involve people who have a genuine interest in animals, nature, and conservation;

We love people who are friendly and outgoing, with the ability to talk with guests of all ages and backgrounds;

We engage people who are committed to providing our guests the highest standards of customer service;

We expect that all new volunteers will attend a required one-day Volunteer Orientation Program and a required half-day Hospitality Training Program; upcoming orientation and training program dates will be provided at the time of your interview

We count on you to make a minimum contribution of 48-100 hours of service to the zoo each calendar year;

During our busiest season, the summer months, we need people who love being outdoors and can tolerate, at times, typical hot and humid Chicago summers;

You need the ability to stand and walk throughout a four-hour shift. (However, we are happy to accommodate persons who use electronic convenience vehicles or wheelchairs)

Financial Commitments

We ask that you are already a zoo member or be willing to purchase a zoo membership plan at a 50% discount upon becoming a volunteer (membership plans range from $25 to $197.50 for new volunteers)

We ask you to submit a materials fee of $15

If either of these financial commitments poses an economic hardship for you, our Volunteer Manager can make other arrangements.

Also note that a background check will be conducted at no cost to you as part of our volunteer orientation

What do you receive as a CZS volunteer?

The satisfaction of a meaningful contribution of service to one of the world's leading conservation centers;

A 20% discount at zoo restaurants and gift shops;

Discounted refills on soft drinks and coffee when you present your official zoo drink cup;

Earned Membership Reward Program: Volunteers who contribute 300+ hours in any calendar year are rewarded with a Supporting Membership for the following year; 100-299 hours, a Family Plus Membership; 48-99 hours, a Family Membership.

Members' discount for zoo lectures, classes, and other events;

Continuing education programs designed to enhance your skills and knowledge;

Subscriptions to the zoo's quarterly magazine for members, Zoo Views, and other volunteer publications;

Exclusive invitations to preview new exhibits before the general public;

An annual appreciation dinner and presentation of service awards;

Use of the zoo library;

Tax deductions as allowed by law (for details, contact the IRS for publications, 525- Charitable Contributions."

Opportunity to make new friends and have a wonderful time!

Ready to Sign Up?

Visit our website at to fill out an on-line application or call Hina Patel, Volunteer Coordinator at 708-688-8852 to receive an application in the mail. Hope to see you at the zoo!

Hina Patel

Volunteer Coordinator

Conservation, Education and Training Department

Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo

3300 S. Golf Road

Brookfield, IL 60513


Caring! It's Our Nature! Come Volunteer With Us!

Visit our volunteer page at

Elizabeth Bruhns

Master Gardener Program Organizer

Cook County/Chicago

UIUC Extension Office

3807 W. 111th St

Chicago, IL 60655

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