Volunteer Central

Welcome to our Volunteer Community!

Help us further our educational mission – to replace myths with facts about black bears. Whether you’re around the block in Ely, MN or across the pond in London, England, as an NABC volunteer you can make a real contribution.

We offer both on-site and virtual volunteer opportunities and welcome your participation on a regular schedule or on periodic projects. Look below at our open positions, fill out an application, and become part of our bear family. It’s rewarding, educational, and FUN.

Click to play a special tribute song to thank our volunteers for all you do.

Questions, concerns, or suggestions? Please contact us at [email protected]

Volunteer Today! Click Here to fill out an application.
Hours Volunteered in 2014: 22,474

Volunteer Opportunities

  • Bear Educator Intern 2019

    Summer applications due February 10, 2019; Fall applications due February 10, 2019 

    Organization: North American Bear Center (NABC), Ely, MN  55731 USA

    Location: Ely, MN

    Reports to: Curator and Director of Education

    Number of Positions: (Summer) 6 positions  (Fall) 3 positions (Each with stipend of $1,500)

    Time Commitment: 500 hours in total

    Housing: We provide housing at a local college, or other designated location.

    Application: Fillable PDF (click to open)


    Educate NABC visitors about the four ambassador bears (via on-site programs and Q&A) and wild black bear behavior (via videos, exhibits, and Q&A). You will be required to give Power Point Presentations (already prepared for you) to groups of visitors. This position will be responsible for all aspects of bear care including maintaining a clean bear enclosure, bear foraging feedings, bear enrichment activities, and food preparation. Worldwide broadcasts of our daily bear enrichments will require speaking to our on-site and global followers.

  • Bear Educator Volunteer 2019

    Applications due March 11, 2019

    Organization: North American Bear Center (NABC)

    Location: 1926 Highway 169, Ely MN 55731  

    Reports to: Senior Bear Keeper and Director of Education

    Number of Positions: 10

    Time Commitment: 80 hours total for the entire season

    Length of Appointment: April 6 to Oct. 20, 2019. A one season commitment.

    Position Summary: Educate NABC visitors about the four ambassador bears (via on-site programs and Q&A) and wild black bear behavior (via videos, exhibits, and Q&A). Speak to groups of visitors and respond to questions. This position will be responsible for all aspects of bear care including maintaining a clean bear enclosure, bear foraging feedings, bear enrichment activities, and food preparation. Assist visitors in the Northwood’s Ecology Hall by handling the animals for visitors to see and hold. Point out the touch- screens for additional animal information. 

  • FUNdraiser Team Member

    Organization: NABC/WRI

    Location: Remote

    Number of Positions: Open Ended

    Reports to: Project Coordinators

    Overview: Collaborate with other team members to generate ideas, execute Fundraisers, and participate in the necessary activities to run a successful fundraiser on Facebook.

  • Grant Writer Position

    Organization: North American Bear Center

    Location: Remote

    Number of Positions: 1

    Reports to: Senior Director of Operations


    Collaborate with Sr. Director of Operations and other management staff to research and identify small, medium, and large grant opportunities for the NABC; build relationships with funding contacts; submit and track grant proposals and applications; and follow-up with prompt acknowledgment of funding gifts. Must understand, support, and promote the mission of the NABC.

  • Moderator - Facebook - LTBB

    Organization: NABC

    Location: Off-site

    Number of Positions: 3-4

    Reports to: Lily Facebook Administrator

    Shifts available:  Weekday Afternoons Central Time and Daytime on Weekends

    Overview: The Lily the Black Bear Facebook page is a family-friendly gathering place where fans from around the world can visit and learn about black bears and the research activities conducted by the Wildlife Research Institute. The role of the moderator is critical to maintaining the page in a respectful, inclusive manner. In order to ensure an enjoyable educational and social platform, moderators constantly scan and review the page, answer fan questions, remove spam, and maintain established guidelines.

  • Moderator - Pond Chat

    Organization: NABC

    Location: Off-site

    Number of Positions: 5

    Reports to: Pond Chat Administrative Team

    Shifts Available: Daily 8am-10:30a and 4-5 pm; Monday - Thursday 7-8 pm; and Sunday 5-7 pm.

    Overview: Promote a welcoming, positive, and educational experience for all participants visiting fast-paced chat room devoted to educating visitors about the North American Bear Center’s resident bears and the Wildlife Research Institute’s study bears. Share current information, answer questions, and direct chatters to alternative resources. Enforce chat guidelines in order to maintain a dynamic, respectful, and family-friendly (“G” rated) environment at all times. Support and collaborate with members on your team of mods.

  • Promotional Copywriter

    Organization: North American Bear Center

    Location: On-site

    Number of Positions:1

    Reports to: Various Project Coordinators


    We are looking for a talented and experienced marketing copywriter to work alongside our Project Coordinators in creating successful marketing and fundraising campaigns for the North American Bear Center. We have an immediate need for an individual to support this year’s Give to the Max Day*. Other projects could include iGive, TripAdvisor, and Combined Federal Campaign as well as creating promotional materials to support other team efforts throughout the year.

    *Give MN launched in 2009 as a collaborative venture led by Minnesota Community Foundation and other organizations committed to making Minnesota a better place. To generate excitement, they organized “Give to the Max Day” that sparked a blast of online giving - $14 million in 24 hours. Since that trial run in 2009, “Give to the Max Day” has become an annual tradition. The NABC has participated in “Give to the Max Day” since 2010 and has raised more than a quarter of million dollars in just 5 days of online giving!

  • Speakers Bureau Member

    Organization: North American Bear Center and Wildlife Research Institute

    Location: Off-site

    Number of Positions: 25 – 50

    Reports to: Trish Kirk - Speakers Bureau Coordinator


    As an advocate for black bears and a member of the Speakers Bureau, you will be delivering a pre-designed, 45-minute PowerPoint presentation entitled ‘Black Bears: Dispelling the Myths for Peaceful Coexistence’ to local schools, libraries, nature centers, and other community organizations. Your goal is to promote a welcoming, positive, and educational experience for all audiences. You will be provided with PowerPoint and text plus ongoing support.


Read About Our Project Teams

Bear Facts and Fun

[email protected]

Bear Facts and Fun is a group of volunteers who welcome new fans as they “like” Lily. The Black Bear (LTBB) Facebook Page, provide some fun and games, and provide facts about bears in a fun and educational way.  The group’s mission is to enhance and optimize the LTBB page and Fan experience on the page.

Educational Outreach

Director of Education, Judy Thon, [email protected]

With the goal of advancing the long-term survival of bear populations worldwide, a team of educators works with the NABC to develop school curricula designed to replace misconceptions with current scientific information.

Lily's FUNdraising Team

[email protected]

Energetic group who create on-line fundraising opportunities. Previous successes helped reduce the NABC debt. Current focus is
on raising funds for the “Hope Education Building” and other NABC/WRI projects.

Media Relations

[email protected]

Our Media Relations team provides information about the NABC/WRI to newsrooms around the world.  Media Relations writes and distributes press releases, in addition to handling requests from broadcast, print and online journalists.


Nancy – [email protected]

Each month, reminder letters are sent for memberships that are up for renewal the following month.  A membership database is maintained and personalized ‘thank you’ letters are sent to new and renewing members along with their new membership card.

Moderators - Lily Facebook

[email protected]

‘Lilymods’ are committed team players who continuously scan the LTBB page, keeping it fan-friendly by answering questions, removing offensive posts and politely notifying the poster of the reasons why their post(s) were removed.  Typically, moderators donate 6-8 or more hours a week of their time to support the work of the researchers.

Moderators - Pond Chat

[email protected]

Pond Chat Mods are committed team players who monitor a fast-paced chat room.  They keep it family- friendly, share current information, answer questions or direct chatters to alternative sources to find answers they are seeking about the NABC resident bears or the WRI study bears.   Typically, moderators donate 7-10 hours per week of their time to support the work of the North American Bear Center and the Wildlife Research Institute.


[email protected]

Under the direction of a staff Program Manager, a highly experienced team of volunteers and rotating summer interns present hands-on educational programs on-site at the NABC and off-site in various regional venues, including schools. Topics include “NABC and Its Bears,” “Tracking Our Research Bears,” and “When Females Leave the Den With Cubs.”

Speakers Bureau

[email protected]

The North American Bear Center’s Education Outreach Program has opened new doors with a Speakers Bureau. Knowledgeable speakers all across the country will be presenting 'For the Love of Bears: Dispelling the Myths for Peaceful Coexistence' in their local area, spreading the message of truth about black bears.

Team Forward

[email protected]

Team Forward is a group of volunteers that came together in Spring, 2011 to assist as various needs arise in the general operation of NABC/WRI, the research, and the education.  Typical projects include fan surveys, data entry, and facilities maintenance.

Visitor Groups

Glenn & Nancy - [email protected]

We are a small, enthusiastic team of on-site volunteers who oversee the whole process of enabling groups to visit the NABC - scheduling, welcoming, guiding, presenting programs, and answering questions throughout the visit. Our groups come from all over the United States as well as from abroad and range from school groups, scout groups, family reunion groups, to senior groups. We love sharing our enthusiasm for the NABC and our love for Ted, Honey, Holly and Lucky, and strive to make every visit a memorable occasion.


Myra & Terry – [email protected]

Our Volunteer Team coordinates the recruitment and recognition of our local and global volunteers.  We match skilled volunteers with the needs of the NABC/WRI through an application and interview process; design programs to recognize all volunteer contributions, both large and small; and maintain a vibrant Web page that connects all of our volunteers to the NABC/WRI and to each other.  Our mission is to create a volunteer “community” in the truest sense of the word.

Volunteer Application Form

Click Here to fill out an application

If you've already submitted an application for another position, there is no need to re-submit a new application. Just let the Volunteer Coordinator ([email protected]) know which new position you are interested in and that your application is on file. Thanks.

Why Volunteer for NABC?

  • Fulfill your passion for bears
  • Put your talents to excellent use
  • Support educational initiatives
  • Cultivate local & global friendships
  • Enjoy team spirit
  • Attend fun programs & events

What Our Volunteers Are Saying

  • Laura – Seattle, WA:  "Volunteering for the NABC is the perfect way for me to indulge my passion for bears and give back at the same time. Even from afar, I feel like part of the family."

  • Patrick McKibbage - Duluth, MN: Being a volunteer has been a very rewarding experience for me. The little short video clips that I've been recording for the Bear Center have proven to be a real plus with the supporters and we plan on continuing to do these video's throughout the year. Volunteering for a great cause and meeting fantastic new friends in the process -- It doesn't get any better than that!"

  • Marge – Dublin, Ireland: "Being a moderator on NABC's pond chat is an honor and a wonderful way for me to give back from so far away."

  • Mary Anderson -- Maryland: "Happy [Holidays] to everyone at NABC and WRI! Volunteering with the bears and the staff is a privilege for me and a highlight of my life. I come to Ely to recharge my mental health batteries! Giving Holly her bottle on Memorial Day - after working on den cleanup - would have been on my Christmas card - if I had remembered to take a pic! Walking across the slippery rock bridge, walking on the bear trails, throwing out clover seed, cleaning up 4.5 million peanut shells - all live on the ptz during Fall Cleanup Day. I know how many fans will never get to Ely, let alone be allowed to work so closely with the bears. I feel blessed! And when kids at school can't remember my name, they just call me the "bear teacher". I am blessed!"

  • Rhonda Hennis - Wilmington, NC:  "I love children…they are so honest and so able to change their thought processes and values based on new and true information. Since learning the “truth about black bears” I am dedicated to teach children the truth about these wonderful creatures. It is totally amazing when you touch a child’s life concerning bears…they are the future, not only for the bears but for us…compassion and coexistence…children must learn this early!

  • Susan Barnes – United Kingdom: "I love being a volunteer for the NABC because I am so fond of the black bears (and love all wildlife), and it is fantastic that I can contribute from ‘across the pond’. It means a lot to me that I can use my academic background to contribute to such research, but especially be able to help Dr Rogers and his team at the NABC by providing the research about the wildlife subjects that will feature so strongly in the Northwoods Ecology Hall. ."

  • Paulina Talik - Poland: "For me, being a volunteer at the NABC is a great honor for me and a great success so that as a volunteer I try to combine my passion for the great bears are my scientific geographical area - biological. This Volunteering gives me a lot of great opportunities and to increase my scientific development. I'm grateful that I got to know the people with whom I can share my greatest passion which is for me the bear."

  • Julie L. – Altoona, PA: "I just got my pin today for volunteering. I was so excited. I should thank you for letting me be a part of the bears life. It was a real honor and always know I will help out anytime with whatever you need."

Meet a Volunteer