Print this Page

Volunteering at Sweetbriar


Sweetbriar Nature Center, located at 62 Eckernkamp Drive in Smithtown, is a not for profit organization, dedicated to nature education and wildlife rehabilitation. The center is seeking volunteers interested in helping out either in their formal gardens or in Long Island’s only enclosed Butterfly Garden. So if you enjoy the outdoors, nature’s beauty, and a family atmosphere join our team of dedicated volunteers. Schedules are flexible depending on the needs of each volunteer. Eric Young at 631-979-6344, extension 102.

More Informaton

Thank you for your interest in volunteering at Sweetbriar Nature Center, and supporting our mission of providing Wildlife Rehabilitation and Nature Education to Suffolk County residents.

The nature center is located on a beautiful 55 acre preserve adjacent to the Nissequogue River. We house over 50 animals that we care for and use in our programs for school children, scouts, various organizations, and the general public. In the summer, camp children abound on the property, and the public comes to visit our enclosed, outdoor butterfly garden, and formal gardens. All of these things could not run smoothly without the help and support of volunteers.

Sweetbriar is successful in a great part due to the hard work and commitment of its volunteers. There are over 150 volunteers helping out at Sweetbriar in varying capacities. Each contributes their time and energy to fit their needs and ours. Staff and volunteers alike feel like they are doing something important for the community. All who help out here enjoy the family atmosphere that prevails at the nature center. We hope you decide to join our team of wonderful volunteers.

For the Earth,

Eric Young, Program Director

Volunteer Opportunities

Program Specialist: Lead one of our many specially designed nature programs for schools, and other groups. This position requires weekday availability and training. Ability to relate to children and a love of the natural world is a must.

Gardener: Assist the lead gardener with watering, pruning, weeding and planting. Volunteers can work both in the formal garden and/or the Butterfly and Moth Vivarium. Gardeners for the formal garden meet Tuesdays starting in mid-March.

Animal Care/Rehabilitation Assistant: Work with the wildlife rehabilitator to care for injured, sick, and orphaned animals. Feeding, watering, and cage cleaning are the primary responsibilities. Rehabilitation Assistants needed mainly in spring and summer months.

Center Receptionist: Greet visitors, take registration, answer the phone and be an ambassador for the Nature Center. This position is available seven days a week on a regularly scheduled basis.

Vivarium Assistant: Assist with all aspects of the daily operation and maintenance of the Butterfly and Moth Vivarium. An interest and fondness of insects is a must. Training will be provided.

Special Events: Join a committee to plan and implement events such as our annual fair, Halloween Spooktacular, Spring Celebration, Butterfly Breakfast or simply help with many of the tasks needed that day.


Benefits of Volunteering

Learn new skills, meet new people and experience the rewards of working directly to make a positive impact on our environment. Add an important piece to your resume, if you are just starting out.

How do I become a volunteer?

Simply call us at (631) 979-6344 to schedule an informational interview.


Each year Sweetbriar Nature Center accepts interns to help out at the nature center. Students can take an internship for college or high school credit, to bulster their resumes, or simply to gain work experience in a field of interest. In the summer there are often stipends offered for up to five or six internships. It is an excellent way for the nature center to increase its job force and also help young people to start on the path to becoming naturalists, rehabilitator, scientists, and educators. Internships are offered in educaton, wildlife rehabilitation/animal care, gardening, and in our Butterfly/Moth Vivarium. See descriptions below for more details.

To express your interest in any of these opportunities, please contact: Eric Young, Program Director at 631-979-6344, ext. 302, or e-mail at

Animal Care/Wildlife Rehabilitator Intern

Sweetbriar is seeking a summer intern to assist with the animal care of permanently disabled wildlife and the rehabilitation of wildlife brought to the center. Sweetbriar Nature Center, located on a beautiful woodland preserve in Smithtown on Long Island, is a not for profit organization, dedicated to providing native wildlife rehabilitation services and natural science education. The candidate should have a love of animals and experience working with animals. This is a unique opportunity to work with a variety of wildlife, from turtles to owls, up close. With the help of experienced naturalists and rehabilitators the intern can learn a great deal about the natural history and habits of each individual species as he/she helps prepare them to return to the wild. The animal care intern will assist with feeding, record keeping, routine care of patients, treatments and evaluations. Although we are excited to accommodate an intern at any time during the year our greatest need is during the months of May, June, July, August, and September. It is preferred that interns work at least 15 and 20 hours per week. Salaried positions may be available. Those willing to volunteer their time are always welcome.

Educational Intern

Sweetbriar presents a variety of nature programs most of which involve wildlife that reside here at the nature center. The educational intern here at Sweetbriar’s major responsibility will be to train for and teach both our on site and in-school programs for children of all ages , which means they must learn to handle the animals necessary to present each program, such as turtles, snakes, rabbits, and chickens. Interns may have the opportunity to work with our birds of prey if they are interested. An intern certainly should enjoy working with children, have a love of nature and animals, and have ability to present programming in front of large groups. The intern is under the supervision of the Program Director. With this in mind part of their responsibility will be to lend support to the director with program preparation and clean up, organization of educational materials, and much more. We ask that each intern complete a project that will benefit the educational programs. The internship lasts one academic semester, such as September to December, and the hours are flexible. In return, Sweetbriar will be willing to work with your university/college to offer credit for this experience. Salaried positions are also available for students interested in working part-time. Those willing to volunteer are always welcome.

Butterfly and Moth Vivarium Internship

Sweetbriar is offering an opportunity to intern in our beautiful enclosed butterfly house, also known as a vivarium. A vivarium intern will be responsible for supporting the head volunteer, which includes assisting with rearing the butterflies & moths, maintaining the garden, and educating the public. A candidate should have a love of nature, more specifically butterflies/moths and gardening. He/she should be comfortable with insects since an intern will be raising butterflies & moths through their life cycles. It is a wonderful opportunity to work among these beautiful rainbow flyers. The internship requires at least a four week commitment and from 20 to 40 hours/week anytime between the months of May and September. In return an intern can receive high school or college credit. Salaried positions may be available. Those willing to volunteer their time are always welcome. Internships are only available late mid-April through August.

Garden Intern

One of the jewels of Sweetbriar Nature Center is the volunteer formal gardens. Since the gardens are maintained completely by volunteers, it is always in need of helping hands. The garden intern will assist the head volunteer gardener in all aspects of the garden’s operation, including planting, pruning, weeding, etc. A project is included in the internship, which will be decided upon by the intern and the head gardener. The intern should have a green thumb and enjoy being in the outdoors. This is a wonderful opportunity to work with a dedicated, caring crew of volunteers in a beautiful setting. Salaried positions may be available. Those willing to volunteer their time are always welcome. Interns can work from 20 to 40 hours a week for 4 to 8 weeks.

Summer Education Intern

The Summer Educator Internship is a unique opportunity to learn how to use the natural world as a teaching tool, enhance your leadership skills, and to learn how to handle captive wildlife. Candidates should have experience working with small groups of children, be comfortable working in a team situation, and have an enjoyment of children and the natural world. This internship requires a commitment of four to eight weeks from July fifth to September first to be a lead educator for a group of up to fifteen elementary school aged children. It is a fairly typical work week, Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5pm daily. College credit can be arranged. Salaried positions may be available. Those willing to volunteer are always welcome.

Permanent link to this article: