• Docent showing sea star to young visitor
    Academy docent engaging with interested guests.
  • Collections volunteer with avian specimens.
    Collections volunteer working with our ornithology specimens. 
  • Docent volunteer with cats engagment
    Academy docent leading an engagement in the Tusher African Hall.
  • Orienteer greeting guests
    An Orienteer greeting Academy guests as they enter the musuem.
  • Academy docent engaging with guests
    Academy docent engaging guests with ichthyology specimens.
  • Dive volunteer in the Cal Coast exhibit
    Academy dive volunteer at work in our California Coast habitat.
  • Ichthyology collections volunteer at work
    Ichthyology collections volunteer preparing a specimen.
  • Docent engaging on the public floor
    Academy docent engaging with guests on our exhibit hall.
  • Husbandry volunteer preparing animal diets
    Our husbandry volunteer preparing diet for our animals in the Steinhart Aquarium.
  • Docent volunteer leading a Spectroscopy activity
    Academy docent leading a Spectroscopy activity.
  • Volunteer Aquarium Divers getting ready
    Volunteer Aquarium Divers getting ready for a dive in our California Coast habitat.

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.


Volunteering at the Academy

Docents on the Academy bridge

To view current volunteer role openings, shift requirements, and to apply, please visit our Volunteer Application Form.

*Due to high level of interest, we are pausing recruitment on some roles at this time. Please check back in the next few months for additional openings.

If your preferred role is not listed, please fill out this form to be notified when the role becomes available. All detailed volunteer role descriptions can be found at the lower half of this page.

Our team strives to review every application promptly. However, due to the 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 volunteers@calacademy.org if you have any questions.


Upcoming Training Dates —

  • Docent Volunteer: next 2024 training class will be held in October.


  • Special Engagement Volunteer (SEV): next one-day training class will be held on June 15, 2024. Candidates must be available to attend the training in-person.

Volunteering in the Community

Tidepool community science

The California Volunteer Network is a brand new program under the Thriving California initiative designed to inspire and support nature-based volunteerism and connectivity among California's college student communities and conservation groups.

During the 2024 pilot year, we aim to establish a network of place-based chapters for college students in the Bay Area to gather and volunteer together on a monthly basis at various partner sites. Students will rotate through local conservation efforts as a means of exploring the field, fostering a sense of belonging, gaining valuable experience and becoming the next generation of scientific experts and leaders while doing so.

Are you interested in becoming a nature champion in your local community? If so, please fill out the interest form below to participate in a local student chapter!

*please note these chapters are not exclusive to any particular college or residence


Teen Volunteer Opportunity

Naturalist Center

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.

The application for our Fall 2024 session will be available starting on June 1st — closing on July 1st. The tentative dates for the Fall session are from September 21 through December 7, 2024, Saturdays only.

The Fall 2024 program application opens on June 1st.

Donor recognition wall

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.

Academy Naturalist Teen (ANT) Volunteer
Owl Pellets Naturalist Center

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.

The application for our Fall 2024 session will be available starting on June 1st — closing on July 1st. The tentative dates for the Fall session are from September 21 through December 7, 2024, Saturdays only.

Animal Health Volunteer
animal husbandry record keeping

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.

Aquarium Diver Volunteer
aquarium dive show

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.

Aquarium Husbandry Volunteer
chinook salmon

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.

Comparative Genomics Volunteer
Comparative Genomics in Action

*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.

Docent Volunteer
Docent volunteer interacting with guests

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.

Family Nature Club (FNC) Volunteer
Family in Wander Woods

Do you enjoy being outdoors, working with children and families, and are passionate about regenerating the natural world? Volunteering with the Family Nature Club might be for you!

Family Nature Club volunteers supports the Academy by facilitating a range of activities that may include tabling, engaging with families in outdoor science education, nature play, community science events, and stewardship projects, at the Academy and off-site locations.

Marine Mammal Field Response Volunteer
Moe Flannery examines a deceased pinniped.

*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.

Naturalist Center Engagement Volunteer
Naturalist Center Engagement

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.

Orienteer (Guest Experience)
Orienteer greeting guests in the lobby

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.

Planned Giving and Donorship Administrative Volunteer
monarch butterflies

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.

Public Programs and Guest Experience Volunteer (multiple roles)
docent in the rainforest

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.

Rainforest Horticulture Volunteer
osher rainforest

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.

Research Collections Volunteer (multiple roles)
chris grinter collections

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.​

School Programs Volunteer
little naturalists

Enjoy working with school groups in an informal setting? This volunteer opportunity provides an in-depth, hands-on experience for people interested in informal education. Volunteers learn teaching techniques and gain an understanding of how to communicate with students of varying ages and backgrounds. We can also work with graduate and undergraduate students to fulfill a graduation requirement.

Scientific Computing Volunteer
comparative genomics

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.

Special Engagement Volunteer
Special Engagement Volunteer

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.

Terrestrial Husbandry Volunteer
Madagascar day gecko

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.

Water Quality Volunteer

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!

Frequently asked questions

How do I get started? Can anyone apply? Is there a matching gifts program for volunteers? Find answers to these questions and more.

Contact us
Still have questions about volunteering? Feel free to contact us:
Academy Volunteer Programs Team