How do I get started? Can anyone apply? Is there a matching gifts program for volunteers? Find answers to these questions and more.
Thank you for your interest in volunteering at the California Academy of Sciences! Please scroll down to view currently available opportunities and role descriptions.
The California Academy of Sciences welcomes people of all backgrounds, identities, and beliefs to join us in achieving our mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. We place diversity, equity, and inclusion at the heart of our recruiting efforts and strive to build a culture centered on mutual respect, equal treatment, and the opportunity to succeed. We look for volunteers with a collaborative spirit who work well and respectfully with others.
All Academy staff and volunteers are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including receiving a booster shot when eligible as a condition of their service, absent qualifying exemptions in accordance with applicable laws. Volunteer applicants who are selected to enter the program will be provided the full text of the vaccination policy.
Adult Volunteer Opportunities
To view current volunteer role openings, shift requirements, and to apply, please visit our Volunteer Application Form. All detailed volunteer role descriptions can be found at the lower half of this page. If your preferred role is not listed, please fill out this form to be notified when the role becomes available.
Our team strives to review every application promptly. However, due to high level of interest and evolving needs of the Academy, we may prioritize review for certain roles. Please allow up to two months for our team to process your application. We are accepting applications from anyone 18 years of age and over.
Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Upcoming Training Dates —
- Docent Volunteer: next training class will be held in April, 2024 on the 6th, 13th, 20th, and 24th (evening). Candidates must be available to attend all training dates.
- Special Engagement Volunteer (SEV): next one-day training class will be held on January 13, 2024 and May 25, 2024. Candidates must be available to attend the training in-person.
Teen Volunteer Opportunity
Thank you for your interest in our teen volunteer opportunity! Launched in early 2023, the Academy Naturalist Teen (ANT) is a three-month long volunteer program for teens ages 15-17. The program is designed to introduce teens to the field of informal education; using interactive activities to engage with with guests of all ages, particularly with young children.
Our Fall program is currently underway. Applications for the Spring 2024 session will open on November 15, 2023 and closing on December 21, 2023.
Volunteer Role Descriptions
Learn more about our active volunteer roles and download the complete position description. Please note that our recruitment needs vary throughout the year, please check our Volunteer Application Form for a list of current openings.
If your preferred role is not listed, please fill out this form to be notified when the role becomes available.
Are you a teen who is interested in inspiring others to explore the natural world? Help Academy guests of all ages learn, tinker and investigate, while gaining skills in public speaking and informal science engagement. Please read the role description for specific shift and training requirements. Spring 2024 cohort application opens on November 15, 2023.
Do you have an interest in back-of-house animal husbandry? Do you have great attention to detail? Come volunteer with the Academy's Animal Health Team in our hospital and quarantine areas. Volunteers assist with cleaning exhibits, preparing diets, observing medical procedures, and record-keeping. This role offers the opportunity to learn more about the process of introducing new animals to our exhibits and how we provide veterinary care for our living collection.
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.
Are you able to make a weekly volunteer commitment and are interested in working with the inhabitants of Steinhart Aquarium? The Aquarium Husbandry Volunteers assist staff in a variety of tasks involved in caring for our aquatic animals and habitats, and are guaranteed to get wet and dirty! Great for aquarium hobbyists or those looking to learn what it takes to work in the aquarium field.
*Please note that due to the nature of this role. previous experience is required.
Are you someone with experience working in molecular lab, and have an interest in flexing your skills to assist genomic researchers with active biodiversity research? Join our team as a volunteer in the Center for Comparative Genomics (CCG)! CCG volunteers assist with lab upkeep as well as actively participating in laboratory work.
Join our community of informal educators that help bring the Academy's mission to life! As a docent, you will assume a vital role in engaging visitors from diverse backgrounds, inspiring curiosity and exploration. You will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Academy's world-class exhibits and use specimens from the docent collection to facilitate hands-on learning.
Are you interested in the Docent role but have a limited schedule? Consider our Special Engagement Volunteer (SEV) position! An SEV is a public-facing informal education role that has lower monthly shift commitment.
*Please note that due to the nature of this role, previous experience is required.
Are you someone with experience in animal necropsy, field work and a flexible schedule? The marine mammal response team could use your help! Field response volunteers assist with carcass retrieval or necropsy across northern California. Personal transportation required.
Facilitate hands-on science activities in the Academy's Naturalist Center, as a Naturalist Center Engagement Volunteer! Dissect owl pellets, investigate iridescence, and more with Naturalist Center Engagement Kits. Engagement volunteers inspire curiosity and have fun with guests of all ages.
Orienteers help Academy guests feel welcome and comfortable when they enter the museum. They answer questions, provide useful tips, and help visitors navigate the public floor.
The Orienteer is a public-facing role that supports the Academy's Guest Experience team. You can find more information about the Orienteer and other front of house roles here.
Are you looking to use your administrative skills to help regenerate the natural world? Do you have great penmanship, strong organizational skills, or great data entry experience? Join our Development team as an Administrative Support Volunteer. Tasks range from writing handwritten notes to our donors, scanning and labeling documents, and supporting other administrative projects. Great for those looking to make a monthly commitment or those looking for a shorter-term project that can be completed in a few shifts.
Are you looking to help engage Academy guests in our mission to regenerate the natural world? From helping visitors navigate the museum to educating guests about scientific specimens to engaging our youngest visitors in facilitated play and exploration, Public Programs and Guest Experience Volunteers help bring the Academy's mission to life. Browse through the variety of opportunities available to find the perfect role to match your interests and availability.
Are you a plant enthusiast with an interest in tropical ecosystems? Rainforest Horticulture Volunteers assist with the daily maintenance of the plants inside the Academy, including plants inside our rainforest dome. This role offers the opportunity to expand your horticulture knowledge and skills. Must be able to work in hot and humid conditions.
Support our Academy collections managers in preparing and maintaining scientific collections in our research departments. Individual duties are diverse—mount plants, classify bones, re-bottling specimens, document collections, and more—but all volunteers are immersed in the principles and techniques of modern scientific-collections management.
Enjoy working with school groups in an informal setting? This training program provides an in-depth, hands-on experience for people interested in informal education. Participating volunteers will learn teaching techniques and gain an understanding of how to communicate with students of varying ages and backgrounds.
Genomics, collections, and computing infrastructure all need your help! Bring your programming, IT, and database skills to help with tasks ranging from regular maintenance to groundbreaking research work. Positions will be tailored to skill sets and volunteer availability.
Interested in engaging with guests on the public floor, but have limited time to dedicate to volunteering? The Special Engagement Volunteer (SEV) role is a pared-down version of our docent role.
The Special Engagement Volunteer is a public-facing role that supports the Academy's Public Programs team via informal and interactive engagement with guests. You can find more information about our Public Programs Roles here.
Do you have an interest in birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, or arachnids? Terrestrial Husbandry Volunteers assist staff in many of the tasks involved in routine animal husbandry of the terrestrial animals who call the Academy home. This role may involve working inside the Academy's rainforest, so is best suited to those who are comfortable working in hot and humid environments.
Keeping our living collections healthy and thriving means making sure that their habitats are cared for as well! Water Quality Volunteers learn to assist in conducting water quality tests on samples they collect from exhibits throughout Steinhart Aquarium. Do you have experience in a laboratory setting and an interest in helping the Academy to care for our living collection? Come join the Water Quality Team!
Academy Volunteers, you can clock in for your shift here!