Welcome, prospective volunteers! The Volunteer Services department provides a connection between the diverse Bay Area community and our museum, research, and administration. All volunteers are part of the greater Academy community as we work to explore, explain, and sustain life on Earth.

We look for volunteers with a collaborative spirit, who work well and respectfully with others.

All volunteers must be 18 or older. Volunteer needs fluctuate throughout the year.

Orienteer hands a visitor a ticket.

Join the Academy’s guest experience team! Meet, greet, and guide Academy visitors as a roving concierge, helping visitors to make the best use of their time by providing impromptu itineraries and helpful suggestions. We ask for a commitment of two 2-hour shifts each month and offer additional volunteer opportunities at special events throughout the Academy. Orienteering is the Academy’s most flexible volunteer program and great way to make your first connection with the Academy.

Academy Docents
A docent shows young visitors some specimens in jars.

Do you love talking to people? Are you passionate about our water planet? The Academy is currently recruiting for aquarium docents. Aquarium docents will talk with guests as they investigate the stunning Steinhart Aquarium. You may find yourself inspiring guests to protect the coral reef or share an abalone shell with children at the Tidepool. Hours of fun to be had.

Docents use an informal and conversational approach with Academy visitors to spark curiosity, inspire action, and foster an interest in continued scientific discovery. They share their excitement and passion for stewardship of our natural environment and scientific learning. Docents are trained in theory and best practices of informal engagement, taught fundamental scientific principles and Academy initiatives, and receive training in specialty areas.

At least 1 year commitment required. Docents are asked to commit to three 3.5-hour shifts per month for not less than one year. To explore this opportunity further, please review the formal docent position description below.

Volunteers in Early-Childhood Programs
Child and early-childhood program volunteer

Interact with our youngest visitors in the Early Explorers Cove! Twice each month, volunteers help preschool children and their caregivers learn about science through stories and nature crafts. Opportunities range from greeting parents and toddlers at the Early Explorer Cove and engaging in informal enrichment activities inside the Cove to helping facilitate the Sunday Family Craft activity. To explore this opportunity further, please review the formal volunteer position description.

Aquarium Divers
Colorful fish in the Philippine coral reef

Academy volunteer divers plunge into stunningly beautiful environments while feeding fish and keeping tanks sparkling clean. Interested divers may also be trained to deliver dive presentations in our Philippine Coral Reef tank, one of the deepest live-coral aquarium exhibits in the world.

Volunteer divers must:

  • Be a certified rescue diver
  • Have 50 logged dives
  • Possess current CPR/First Aid/AED/O2 admin certifications and have DAN Insurance
  • Pass a diving medical exam (conducted by your own physician)
  • Pass a swim test conducted by an Academy diving safety officer
  • Commitment of 2 full days per month for one year
Administrative and Outreach Volunteers
A person filling out a form

Put your office, organizational, and computer skills to good use by providing administrative assistance to Academy staff. Volunteers who work behind the scenes enjoy a variety of assignments tailored to their interests and abilities.


Research Collections Volunteer
A collections voluteer looking at specimens.

Help Academy collections managers prepare and maintain scientific collections in our research departments. Individual duties are diverse—mount plants, classify bones, re-bottle specimens, document collections, and more—but all volunteers are immersed in the principles and techniques of modern scientific-collections management. Most research placements require a 3- to 4-hour weekly commitment, and hours are available only on weekdays. While not all of our research departments have the capacity to accept volunteers, we encourage you to specify which department you are most interested in volunteering with:

  • Botany
  • Entomology
  • Ichthyology
  • Invertebrate Zoology & Geology
  • Ornithology and Mammalogy
  • Special Collections Library

Attention techies! Are you a tech professional hoping to put your skills to use in a volunteer capacity? If so, the Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability (IBSS) could use your help.

Applicable skills are:
• Linux admin/sysadmin/devops/Bash/Chef/Docker experience
• Additional help could be used in website building; HTML, CSS, Rails, JSON, and JavaScript experience needed

School Programs Internship
An educator in training interacts with young visitors

Learn to teach informal science education and/or help evaluate our programs. This internship is designed to provide an in-depth, hands-on experience for people interested in pursuing a career in informal education. Participants will work alongside the Academy’s Education staff to learn about the different facets of school programs in a museum.

These short-term placements typically require 10 hours per week during academic semesters, and can be modified to include the optimal hours or project-based focus needed for academic credit. Hours are only available on weekdays. A few positions are available throughout the year, with special assignments available for bilingual candidates.

Recruitment for the fall semester begins June 2015, with positions beginning in late August.

Aquarium and Rainforest Volunteers
Visitor at the Philippine Coral Reef exhibit.

Work with our Steinhart Aquarium staff, the team responsible for the nearly 40,000 animals that make their home at the Academy. Aquarium volunteers learn how assist with the care of a wide range of aquatic and terrestrial animals (and their environments) by testing water quality, checking on animal health, and even flexing those horticultural skills.

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