Education Volunteers

Join us!


In providing high quality, hands-on learning rooted in Smithsonian Science and expand your understanding of our coastal research projects and Chesapeake Bay ecology.

The programs in Education are only open to those 18 years of age or older, and there is a minimum hour requirement, see information below.

If you are not interested in working with students we also have opportunities for office work, trail maintenance, gardening, and more.

To see if SERC is a good fit you, fill in the SERC Education Volunteer Application to get your process started! We will need to set up an initial interview and then you may volunteer one day as a station helper. After that, if you are chosen as a volunteer, and you choose to continue, then you will start your background paperwork and 3 month/week trial period.


Weekly Volunteers:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Must commit to at least 26 days a year (April-November) 4 hours=1 day.
  • Must obtain a valid SERC ID and pass a background check before you may begin volunteering.
  • Must do a safety training with SERC staff.
  • May attend SERC volunteer functions, field trips, trainings, and events.
  • Will be given a mentor to help with training and questions.
  • Will be given multiple days of training on field trip stations, and you can be either a weekly helper or a station leader (or a combination). It’s up to you and your comfort level.

Monthly Volunteers:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • You do not need to be a resident of Maryland.
  • Minimum of 8 days a year (April-November) 1 day= 4 hours.
  • Required safety training.
  • After first day you must begin background to obtain a valid SERC ID and pass a background check before you may begin volunteering.
  • Need to be able to work in a variety of outdoor conditions.
  • Must arrive ½ an hour before the scheduled start time and stay ½ an hour after the group leaves to help clean up.
  • Will be sent background materials to help prepare to help.
  • You will be helping with school groups on a field trip, usually we have 4 key stations (Seining in the water with nets and waders, oysters on the docks, plankton at the microscopes in the classroom, or watersheds on the dock). For our younger students we also offer programs on Bay sharks and blue crabs.

SERC education volunteer teaching students how to chicken neck for blue crabs

Leader activities include but are not limited to:

  • Help lead and conduct educational programs (Grades K-8) 
  • Help prepare and maintain educational materials
  • Supervise Education Programs Helpers 

Helper activities include but are not limited to:

  • Provide assistance to education volunteers and staff that are leading programs. This may be in the form of setting up and taking down materials, assisting with teaching content, or providing lunch breaks and relief for rotation stations.


Activities include but not are not limited to:

  • Become trainers and mentors to new and returning volunteers
  • Build and maintain volunteer support
  • Help develop educational materials


SERC education volunteer caring for aquaria

Volunteers are always welcome to help out in many other opportunities not listed here, that can be addressed on a case-by-case basis, and focused on the needs of the education center as well as the interest of the volunteer.

Activities include but are not limited to:

  • Office support/ administration
  • Volunteer management
  • Trail maintenance and caring for the aquaria and animals in the education center


Other benefits of volunteering at SERC:
  • Deepen your knowledge about the Chesapeake Bay and SERC science and research
  • Receive volunteer training and continuing educational experiences on a team known for its strong sense of community, mutual support, and meet world class scientists
  • Enjoy the benefits at other Smithsonian facilities/ events in DC
To learn more about Education Volunteer opportunities, please contact Karen McDonald at