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Volunteer in Butterfly Lab

Volunteers are vital to our mission of creating positive relationships between people and nature.

They work throughout the Museum to take care of our critters, engage our visitors throughout our exhibits, preserve our historic collections, and so much more.

Thank you for your interest in volunteering at the Nature Museum. We are not currently accepting new volunteers, but please be sure to check this page for new postings.

*Please note, due to our background check process, a valid US Social Security number is required to volunteer at the Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Volunteer Opportunities

Public Engagement Facilitator in Butterfly Haven

Museum Host

Museum Host volunteers are part of our amazing Visitor Services team, making our guests feel welcome and helping them find their way around the museum. Duties will have you moving all around the museum, doing tasks ranging from welcoming volunteers to the Butterfly Haven, to helping guests find the elevator, to just being a present, smiling face if anyone has a question. Required skills include a quick smile and enthusiasm for talking about the Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum!

PIP volunteer

Public Interpretive Programs (PIP)

Serve as the voice of the Museum! Volunteer 10:30am-2:30pm one day per week on a regular schedule to lead all of the programs the Museum offers to the public on a daily basis. These programs include animal-focused programs like Critter Connections and Animal Feedings; activities that connect visitors to our exhibits and collections; and story time for our littlest visitors. You’ll get extensive training before you start, and we can promise that no two days will be the same.

Animal Care volunteer

Animal Care

Animal Care volunteers work in the Istock Family Look-in Lab to care for our living creatures. They feed the animals, monitor their health, and keep the habitats clean. Our living collections include snakes, turtles, salamanders, frogs and toads, rats, and many invertebrate species.

bird care volunteer

Bird Care

Bird Care volunteers care for the birds in the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven. They prepare food, feed the birds, monitor their health and keep the habitat clean. Once they finish their tasks in the Haven, then come join the team in the Look-In Lab to care for the invertebrates, amphibians and other animals.

Butterfly Lab volunteer

Butterfly Lab

Butterfly Lab volunteers ensure that the chrysalides make it into the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven as adults. They keep the lab area clean, pin chrysalides to the display case, and record butterfly emergence.

Check-in volunteers

Special Events

Special Events volunteers help the museum execute all sorts of events, from annual family celebrations to documentary film screenings and everything in between. Pick as many or as few events as you like, and serve in a wide variety of roles to help our events run smoothly.

watering plants in Butterfly Haven


Horticulture volunteers work indoors and outdoors to care for the Museum's beautiful plants and gardens.

Outdoors, they work on 
Nature Trails, the Museum’s first outdoor exhibition. They rid the grounds of invasive species and maintain the natural and decorative landscapes. This is a seasonal volunteer position, generally active between April and October. Horticulture volunteers embrace Chicago’s unpredictable weather with hardiness and stamina. 

Indoors, our Horticulture volunteers get up early to water the 
Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, and spruce up its plants before our guests arrive for the day.

Collections intern

Museum Collections and Archives

The Chicago Academy of Sciences’ scientific collections and archives preserve biodiversity of the Midwest from the 1830s to the present, and include zoology, botany, earth science, and cultural materials. Collections volunteers assist with the preservation, organization, and expanding the accessibility of the collections.
*please note there is often a waitlist for this opportunity.

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