In a tight job market volunteer experience can make the difference between getting a job and remaining unemployed. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available to teens in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Teens can look for an opportunity in the field in which they hope to have a career or try out several positions as they search for something that interests them. Age restrictions may limit opportunities for younger teens.
Animals and the Outdoors
Teens 14 years and older can be Nature Guides at the Biopark (cabq.gov/culturalservices/biopark), teaching visitors about the fascinating world of nature. Conservation Camp Counselors, Touchpool or Horticulture volunteers must be at least 16. Those under 18 will work with an adult at the Touchpool or in horticultural activities. Eighteen or 19 year olds can be Garden Railroaders, Biovan Rangers or Greeters at the zoo. Teens 16 or older can also walk dogs at the Animal Shelter (cabq.gov/culturalservices/pets) or act as foster parents for cats or dogs with their parent's permission.
Helping the Hungry and Homeless
The minimum age to volunteer at the Roadrunner Food Bank (rrfb.org) is 6 years old, although anyone under 16 must work with a responsible adult. Teens 13 and older can help prepare meals for Meals on Wheels (mow-nm.org) or help deliver Meals with an adult driver. Joy Junction (joyjunction.org), the city's largest family homeless shelter, accepts teen volunteers. The age limits depend on the specific job and whether the youth is a member of a group or an individual.
Education and Literacy
Junior Achievement (ja.org) volunteers teach important skills to students in grades K through 12. Volunteers must be at least 16 years old. At age 15, teens can teach younger children through the American Youth Literacy Foundation (youthlit.org). Volunteer docents at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (indianpueblo.org) must be 16. At Explora Museum (explora.us) volunteer Educational Assistants teach science and technology in a way that is more like play. Volunteers must be at least 14 years old.
Health and Medicine
The University of New Mexico Hospital (hospitals.unm.edu) provides opportunites for mentorships for teens 16 and older. These mentorships are arranged through school counselors and the teen earns high school credit for completing the mentorship. They also have a Summer Teen program for 14 to 18 year olds that can lead to a mentorship during the school year. Teens 17 and older can be camp counselors at the Muscular Distrophy Association Camp(mda.org). Teens of any age who have music, dance or drama skills are invited to perform at the North Ridge Alzheimers Special Care Center (jeaseniorliving.com). Most other senior care facilities in the city also welcome volunteer performers.
Each year hundreds of other volunteer opportunities become available, either on a recurring or short term basis. Teens interested in finding unique opportunites should check out Volunteer Match (volunteermatch.org), an online nonprofit organization, or the New Mexico Volunteer Connection (centerfornonprofitexcellence.org/volunteer-connections), a service of United Way. Both directories list organizations that are currently looking for volunteers. Opportunities can be sorted by area of interest and whether they are appropriate for teens.