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Gate Greeter

This role is now full for the 2024 season! Still interested in being part of the crew? Call or email us at 608-283-1612/ Spots do open up occasionally, and we would be happy to get you on the wait list.


Gate Greeters are essential to making Henry Vilas Zoo welcoming and open to all! As a Greeter you’ll be standing at either of the two entrances to the Zoo and being the first point of contact for our guests. You’ll be actively engaging with the community. This is a perfect role for those who love meeting new people, bringing smiles to kids’ faces and getting to experience all manner of questions and curious guests.

“I loved interacting with the kids. It’s amazing how much they love a hand stamp!”

Laura, Gate Greeting Volunteer


  • Set the tone of our guests’ visit!
  • Welcome guests into the Zoo
  • Give out hand stamps to kids (and kids at heart)
  • Thank guests for donating
  • Suggest places of interest to guests who haven’t been here/in years
  • Help interpret the map for new guests
  • Answer general questions and direct guests to the proper resources
Volunteering For All

Gate Greeting volunteers work primarily at the front and/or bridge entrances of the Zoo. Covered information booths are just inside the gates. Greeters have the option of working inside or outside the booths depending on their preference/needs (booths are not wheelchair accessible). The front gate is surrounded by the parking lot, gift shop, bathrooms and Guest Services center. The bridge gate is next to a manned gift shop kiosk, and a short distance from the back parking lot, main bathrooms, and Glacier Grille. This role regularly interacts with guests, and requires volunteers be comfortable engaging in social situations. However, this role is also very flexible, and would be an excellent place to start for those working with a job coach on basic guest services and social skills.

Requirements & Skills
  • At least 14 years of age to volunteer independently; 10-13 with a parent/guardian
  • Enjoys meeting new people and starting conversations
  • Enjoys helping people feel welcome and sharing our Zoo with them
  • Able to sit and/or stand for 2-2.5hrs at a time

Time Commitment

8-10hrs/mo: Gate Greeters commit to a weekly shift with a minimum of x3 shifts/mo from the time they begin through August or September.

Gate Greeters are the most busy May through Labor Day. Shifts are available in April and September for those volunteers who want to balance their fast-paced days with some more relaxed times when we tend to get more local visitors.


All of these trainings are available as refreshers at any point upon request. Optional trainings allow you to try out other roles as shifts become available. They do not add to your minimum requirements (i.e. training in on another role doesn’t require you to add another set of weekly shifts). Training spots are limited; however, we will schedule more throughout the summer as interest and time allows.

  • Online
    • Radio Training (40-50min)Volunteer Expectations (15-20min)
    • Introduction to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (20min)
    • Volunteer Software Basics (5-10min)
  • In-Person
    • Onsite orientation (1hr) – Meet other volunteers, and HVZ Staff, guided Zoo tour, radio practice
  • Optional
    • Henry the Lion/Handler – (Must be at least 14+) – Learn how to tell a story, don the lion/handler costume and get practice in costume on grounds
    • Train/Carousel – (Must be at least 18+) – Basic ride operation, safety protocols and guest training
    • Goat Yard – (Must be at least 10-13 w/ parent/guardian, or 14+) – Learn to open & close, operate and educate at the goat yard
    • Empathy/Interpretation – (Must be at least 10-13 w/ parent/guardian, or 14+) – ZOOM – Learn basic docent skills & practice empathy language. This training in particular will NOT allow you to pick up Wildlife Champion shifts. However, it will provide you with valuable interpretation and empathy-building skills that are useful in a variety of roles.

Weather Policy

Henry Vilas Zoo is open regardless of weather. While we remain open, we trust our Gate Greeters to decide whether or not they would like to volunteer in light precipitation, cold/hot temperatures, etc. The volunteer is in charge of scheduling a make-up shift in the event they choose to stay home due to weather.

In the event of truly inclement weather, we will call volunteers to cancel. In this case, volunteers do not need to make up their cancelled shift.