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Goat Yard Attendant

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.


Goat Yard Attendants invite guests to meet our herd! As an Yard Attendant you’ll be inviting guests to feed and brush our goats while teaching them how they can also help care for animals. This is a perfect role for those who enjoy bringing together kids and animals. This is also perfect for you if you enjoy large groups (as the goat yard can get quite busy with kiddos and families!).

“The goats were so excited to see guests! They came out for my whole shift and couldn’t get enough pets and treats.”

Gavin, Goat Yard & Teen Program Volunteer


  • Invite guests to come meet the goats!
  • Give out goat food and teach guests proper feeding
  • Hand out brushes and teach guests how to groom the goats
  • Use interpretive techniques learned in HVZ training to teach guests about goat behavior
  • Use empathy-building techniques learned in HVZ training to teach guests how they can care for animals in their own lives and in the wild
  • Answer general questions and direct guests to the proper resources
Volunteering For All

The HVZ Goat Yard is located in the heart of the Children’s Zoo just beyond the carousel and playground. HVZ staff attendants at the train/carousel regularly check in, and are available for goat yard volunteer support at any time. A small office is located within the carousel and often serves as a quiet/dark break area for volunteers and attendants. The closest bathroom is in the center of the Zoo just outside the Children’s Zoo. All surfaces are even, and accessible by wheelchair. The HVZ goat yard is a high sensory area due to high guest numbers and the proximity to our gibbons (who can sound like emergency vehicles when they get going) and may not be suitable for those with sensitivities to large crowds and loud sounds.

Requirements and Skills
  • At least 14 years of age to volunteer independently; 10-13 with a parent/guardian
  • Comfortable engaging guests and inviting them to meet the herd
  • Able to sit and/or stand for 3hrs at a time
  • Able to use positive engagement to encourage guests to follow the rules of the yard
  • Enjoys large groups of curious kids
  • Has a passion for teaching about animals, empathy and conservation

Time Commitment

9hrs/mo: Goat Yard Attendants commit to a weekly shift with a minimum of x3 shifts/mo from the time they begin through Labor Day. Extra shifts are available weekends in October for those who would like to continue into the off season a bit.

Goat Yard Attendants are the most busy May through Labor Day. Weekend shifts are also available in April and September for those who would like to practice and bond during slightly slower times of the year.

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 Attendants, HVZ Children’s Zoo staff and the herd, learn goat yard safety and procedures, practice common radio calls, short tour of other Children’s Zoo habitats
  • 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
    • 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.
    • Gate Greeter – (Must be at least 10-13 w/ parent/guardian, or 14+) – Take a small tour of the Zoo going over important buildings, entries and guest protocol.

Weather Policy

While Henry Vilas Zoo is open regardless of weather, we understand that humans and goats tend not to enjoy coming out in inclement weather. We trust our Goat Yard Attendants 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 (and/or reluctant goats), we will call volunteers to cancel. In this case, volunteers can take an excused absence.