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.

Volunteer Docents - New Class Starting in July!
A docent shows young visitors some specimens in jars.

Do you love talking to people? Docents use an informal and conversational approach with Academy visitors to spark curiosity, inspire action, and foster an interest in continued scientific discovery. Docents are trained in theory and best practices of informal engagement, taught fundamental scientific principles and Academy initiatives, and receive training in specialty areas. Be a part of a team that engaged over 1,000,000 visitors last year! See some of the impact we had last year: Docents year in review

At least 6-month commitment required. Docents are asked to commit to three 3.5-hour shifts per month for no less than 6-months. To explore this opportunity further, please review the formal position description below.

For this recruitment class, the volunteer docents will be trained in a specialty area called As the World Evolves, meaning they will spend their time engaging with visitors in the Tusher African Hall and the Discovery Tidepool. Classes start July 23rd, 2016 and full schedule is as follows: 

  • Saturday, July 23 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Saturday, July 30 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Tuesday, Aug 2 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  • Tuesday, Aug 9 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  • Tuesday, Aug 16 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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.

Data Entry Volunteers
Data Entry Volunteers

Looking for project-based volunteer projects? Have Excel experience, a strong attention to detail, and an easy demeanor? Volunteer Services at the Academy is looking to develop a corps of volunteers we can contact as data entry is needed throughout the Academy. Throughout the year our data entry needs fluctuate, but there’s always work to be done behind the scenes to support our world-class museum and research. For more information about this new volunteer opportunity, please see the full position description below. Link to the volunteer application is on the right side of this page.

Naturalist Center Volunteers
Naturalist Center Volunteer

This position supports the Wilson Family Naturalist Center. Depending on your role, you may be supporting public facing engagements by interacting with guests; aiding in the design, repair, or installation of educational materials and displays; or supporting our educational collection by repairing, cleaning, and identifying specimens. This position is an opportunity to gain a wide variety of knowledge while working under the Public Programs Lead and in an engaging and ever-evolving environment.

Landscape Exhibits Volunteers
Landscape Exhibits Volunteers

Enjoy being outside and working with plants? Join us in becoming an integral part in beautifying our iconic living roof and botanic gardens. Our volunteer teams are a great way to expand your knowledge of California native plants and horticulture in a friendly group environment. The Landscape department offers two weekly morning roof volunteer days and a monthly grounds afternoon; each shift lasts 3 hours. Enthusiasm is all that is required as we provide ongoing training opportunities.

Family Programs Engagement Volunteers
Family Programs Volunteers

Help us provide fun and age-appropriate learning opportunities for families visiting the Academy.

Family Programs Engagement volunteers interact with children and their caregivers during fee-based and drop-in programs on the public floor. Opportunities range from assisting during instructor-led workshops to helping facilitate nature-inspired craft projects. To explore thisopportunities further, please review the formal volunteer position description below.

Research Collections Volunteers
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
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.


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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