Current Volunteer Needs

Please review our current needs listed below before submitting an application. To apply for any of these positions, please complete the volunteer application. The Volunteer Department will contact you to schedule an interview. If you have specific questions, please call Janet Morris at 619.255.0245 or You must be at least 18 years old to volunteer for the science departments and openings are limited.

Apply to Volunteer

Interested in employment at the Museum? View our current job openings .

Join our summer camp aide program.

It's not too early to think about summer! Do you love children? Are you 16–18 years old? Join our camp aide program for Summer Camp; June 15–August 14. Volunteers in our camps insure that our campers have an enjoyable and safe experience. Ideal Camp Aides enjoy working with children and are willing to get their hands dirty during craft or other activities. Shifts are 8 AM–4:30 PM. We ask for a minimum commitment of 2 full weeks with 3 weeks preferred. Mandatory orientation will be scheduled in early June. Minimum age is 16. Please complete a volunteer application and we will contact you for an interview in April or May. We require two letters of recommendations from a teacher, volunteer supervisor, or another adult who is not a relative. Deadline to apply is May 18, 2020..

Unpaid Library Internship—Archives Department

Availability: Immediate opening. Flexible schedule working Tuesday through Thursday, on-site hours to be determined by the intern. Some remote work is possible.

Job Description: Primary job responsibilities include working with our collection of historical photographs, field notes, diaries, and other primary documents that chronicle the early years of the Natural History Museum. Our naturalists and research scientists have been actively documenting animals, plants, and fossils throughout southern California and Baja California since the late 1800s. Internship responsibilities include historical/biographical research, description and arrangement of archival collections, preparation of finding aids, creation of digital objects, authority work, metadata aggregation, and MARC cataloging of archival material. We publish digitized archival material at the Internet Archive and make finding aids available through the Online Archive of California.

As an intern, you will gain experience digitizing materials and assigning metadata; you will work with both commercial software (e.g., Excel, Adobe Photoshop and Bridge) and open-source applications such as MarcEdit, Archivesspace, and OpenRefine. You will also learn about working in a research library/archives within a vibrant museum with a dedicated and enthusiastic staff and research-active associates.

Although we cannot offer paid compensation, we offer valuable experience in the practical application of best practices in developing access to archival materials.

Please complete an intern application to apply. If you have specific questions, you may contact:

Margaret Dykens
Registrar and Director of the Research Library

Put the NAT in NATuralist.

Join our newest volunteer group—the NATuralists. Engage our guests with fun, interactive games that connect people to nature in a unique way. You don’t have to be an expert in natural history, you just need to be outgoing, able to easily approach strangers, and curious about nature. Volunteers 16 and up can volunteer alone. Volunteer with your child ages 9–15. We find that youth volunteering with their parents is a great way to connect with other people. We ask for a minimum 2 1/2 hour shift three times a month for 6 months. Training will be arranged. Apply today.

Explore the wild side of San Diego as a Canyoneer.

Join a crew of hardy hikers and explore the coasts, foothills, mountains, desert, and local canyons. As a Canyoneer trail guide, you lead public groups and share your knowledge of the outdoors; knowledge you will gain in the comprehensive Canyoneer training. You trod the wild side of San Diego County, areas that most residents never see. Hikes range from 1.5–8 miles on various terrain. The hikes are either weekends or during the week for the public or hikes for local schools during the weekdays. The hiking season begins in September and ends in June. The hikes are free, no reservations required, and open to the public.

Training is consecutive Saturdays from September 12–November 21; 2020; 8:00 AM-3 PM. Training materials are $30. Once training is completed, Canyoneers are asked to lead six hikes per year for two years. This is a great way to meet others with a similar passion. Minimum age is 18. A background check is required to participate. Apply today. Deadline is Monday, June 22, 2020.

Become a whale naturalist on whale watch cruises.

Join a crew of enthusiastic whale groupies and share your passion for the ocean and its magnificent inhabitants. Training begins Tuesday, October 6, 2020. Museum Whalers are trained naturalists who share the wonders of the ocean wilderness with people from around the world. The Tuesday evening classes (October 6–December 8, 2020) include learning about gray whales, rorquals, dolphins, sea lions, seals, birds, and presentation techniques. Scientists from NOAA as well as other local experts are invited as guest speakers. Upon completion of the training Museum Whalers are asked for a commitment of 10 cruises mid-December through April. Cruises are 9:30 and 1:30 daily on Hornblower Cruises and Events leaving from North Harbor Drive. Minimum age is 18 and class size is limited. A background check is required to participate. Class size is limited to 12. Apply to be put on the wait list. Deadline to apply is June 8, 2020.

Make an impact! Become a Docent.

Join our vibrant Docent team and engage young and old alike in the wonders of the rich biodiversity of our region. Docents are trained teaching guides who deliver programs at local schools and in the Museum. The Docents work as teams so you are sure to make new friends. This is a great opportunity for keeping your mind active in retirement. Training is 25 classes over the course of six months starting September 18. Classes are held on Fridays from 9 AM-2 PM. Training covers all areas of natural history and is taught by museum curators and other local experts. It’s like a college level class! Docents are asked to volunteer 3 hours per week for a two year period. Docents help create programs with the guidance of the museum so there is plenty of opportunity to learn. A background check is required to participate. Apply today. Deadline is Monday, September 7, 2020.