How do you get started? Can anyone apply? Find answers to these questions and more.
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.
Coming Soon: New Volunteer Docent Classes!
Do you love to engage people about the natural sciences? The Academy's docents use an informal and conversational approach with guests 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.
The docent program requires its volunteers to work three, 3.5-hour shifts per month during a minimum six-month commitment.
Upcoming docent Specialty Area classes:
- "Water is Life:" The Steinhart Aquarium introduces visitors to the wonders of our marine ecosystems through cutting-edge exhibits and hundreds of dazzling animal species. This fact-filled class will train and empower volunteer docents to answer all kinds of visitor questions and have meaningful, inspiring conversations about what swims and slithers in our living collections—and how to sustain them for future generations.
In-Person Training Dates:
Saturday, May 4 and 11, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm;
Wednesday, May 15, 22, and 29, 5:30 pm – 9 pm.
Interested? Please complete the volunteer application and select the "Docent" checkbox under "Museum Area of Interest" if you'd like to learn more.
Explore our current opportunities!
Special Events Volunteer
Not your typical Saturday night out! Learn to engage with guests and how to easily share science conversations and stories with them at all types of private evening parties and events. Special Events guests are often first time guests. Helping them explore the wonder of our natural world is often the first step in inspiring them to make small changes that further the Academy’s mission to sustain life on our planet. Share hope for the planet and have fun as a Special Events volunteer.
Family Programs Volunteer
Would you like to act like a kid again? Does flying paper airplanes and building forts sound like fun? If so, we invite you to play like a kid again and help us facilitate family programs for our youngest guests. Family Programs Volunteers will be working with children under 5 years old primarily, so enjoying working with children is highly encouraged. Shifts are two-and-a-half hours (days of the week can vary).
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 only four hours each month, making Orienteering the Academy’s most flexible volunteer program.
Research Collections Volunteer
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. Our collections include: Anthropology, Botany, Entomology, Herpetology, Ichthyology, Invertebrate Zoology & Geology, or Ornithology & Mammalogy.
Enjoy being outside and working with plants? Join us in becoming an integral part of 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. Enthusiasm is all that is required as we provide ongoing training opportunities!
Data Entry and Administrative Volunteer
Looking for a project-based volunteer opportunity? Have Excel experience, a strong attention to detail, and an easy demeanor? The Academy is looking to develop a corps of volunteers we can contact as needed to complete various administrative tasks. Throughout the year our needs fluctuate, but there’s always work to be done behind the scenes to support our world-class museum and research.
Aquarium and Rainforest Volunteer
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.
Volunteer Aquarium Diver
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 exhibit.