Discover FAU Harbor Branch


Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (FAU Harbor Branch) welcomes your enthusiasm, experience, and energy as a volunteer. Anyone interested in volunteering may complete the application. If you are interested in volunteering at the Ocean Discovery Visitors Center, please complete this form in addition to the volunteer application. Consideration is given to all applications and placement is based on the Institute’s needs which may include short-term and on-going opportunities.

Current volunteer opportunities:

Ocean Discovery Visitors Center

Volunteers are needed to staff the welcome desk at the FAU Harbor Branch Ocean Discovery Visitors Center.

The Visitors Center is a destination where the community can come to learn about the research conducted by FAU Harbor Branch marine scientists and engineers. The welcome desk attendant has a very important job; as the first person to receive guests entering the Visitors Center, they are responsible for making a great first impression and promoting our offerings. The attendant’s primary duties include greeting guests as they arrive, collecting basic visitor tracking data, providing information about current outreach programs, keeping a watchful eye on the Visitors Center while staff members are busy, and assisting with various organizational tasks as needed.

In addition to being a part of our outreach team, volunteers will receive a complimentary Immersion Tour, 15% off at the FAU Harbor Branch Gift Shop, and access to special events.

The Visitors Center is open Tuesday - Saturday from 10- 4 pm. The welcome desk attendant is required to fulfill a minimum of one three-hour shift each week (10 am - 1 pm or 1 pm - 4 pm). If you would like to volunteer but are unable to do so on a regular basis, other opportunities may be available. The number of visitors that come to the center each day is highly variable. While some days are very busy, others are quiet; volunteers must be able to remain seated at the welcome desk for the entirety of their shift and be prepared to greet visitors as they arrive. For this reason, volunteers are encouraged to bring a book or other quiet activity and will have access to a computer with internet to use during slow periods.


FAU Harbor Branch Indian River Lagoon Research Boat Tour Volunteer

Training will be provided for activities, props, tools, and any other specific tasks.
Volunteer Duties:

  • Willing to lead hands on activities with water quality tools (Secchi disc, a DO/temp. meter, refractometer, etc.)
  • Comfortable handling props (shells, pSAT tag, live specimens from net, etc.)
  • Willing to work with guests of all ages (children- seniors)
  • Help usher guests off boat to parking lot after tours
  • Help reset props/tools on boat after each tour
  • Help control ROV tether (optional)
  • Deploy plankton net (optional)
  • Able to stand for up to an hour
  • Able to lift up to 25 pounds
  • Able to walk unassisted and go up and down stairs
  • Ideally volunteers would commit to at least 1 boat tour per week (2.5- 4 hrs.) for at least one semester (4 months)

Ocean Discovery Experience (ODE) Volunteer

The outreach department is looking for volunteers who are interested in assisting with the Ocean Discovery Experience (ODE). ODE is a program that happens before or after school in partnership with the Boys and Girls club. Volunteers helping with this program will be working with our staff member to teach students about marine science and lead hands on activities! Right now, we the most help is needed for the middle and high school sessions which are scheduled for the month of October. If you are a looking for a high energy volunteer opportunity working with students this could be a great opportunity for you!

Volunteer Duties:

  • Be comfortable helping with easy science experiments
  • Hand out papers and supplies
  • Help students with crafts
  • Carry bins and supplies
  • Lift up to 50 pounds
  • Use crafting tools
  • Assist educators with other small, simple duties

The Marine Mammal Stranding and Population Assessment (MMSPA) Program Volunteer

The Marine Mammal Stranding and Population Assessment (MMSPA) program is looking for volunteers! The MMSPA team conducts boat-based photo-identification surveys for bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon several times a month, year-round! When not on boat surveys, there is a significant amount of computer work back at the office involving data entry and photo analysis of these field collected data. We are looking for volunteers to help with data entry. Additionally, if interested, volunteers are welcome to help with boat surveys and/or MMSPA education and outreach events.

Volunteer duties and preferred skills:

  • Fluent with using computers for data entry back in the office
  • Be comfortable being on boats for 8-12 hours in very hot or cold weather
  • Ideally volunteers would commit to 4 hours/week in the office. This office work will be between 8am-4pm Monday through Friday.
  • Preferably also able to help with boat surveys 1 day/month. Field survey days can be from dawn until dusk, Monday through Friday. Surveys are conducted approximately 5 days/month.
  • Education and outreach events could be any day of the week, including weekends. This would include helping with manning a table/booth, helping guests tour the ambulance, leading small games for children, etc.
boat with people

For more information, please contact:

Jessica Pettingill, HBOI Volunteer Coordinator

HBOI ocean fish