Volunteer

Volunteering at the Refuge is a rewarding and valuable experience. Through a variety of public programs, visitors understand and appreciate the natural and cultural history of the Refuge.

You can assist Refuge employees and partners with interpretive programs, outreach events, Summer Camp, field trips, and special projects. You can volunteer to help run the Visitor Center. You can rove Refuge trails to talk to visitors, note maintenance needs, and pick up litter. You can even attend community science events to help the Refuge photograph and track native California species. No matter your experience or interests, there are many ways to get involved.

Volunteers running the Check-In Table at the Refuge's annual Earth Day Event in 2022.

Volunteers running the Check-In Table at the Refuge's annual Earth Day Event in 2022.

Volunteer Opportunities

Environmental Education Center (Alviso, California) at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge

If you are interested in wildlife and conservation, enjoy working with people, and are enthusiastic and dependable, the Environmental Education Center's Volunteer Program is for you! As a volunteer, you will receive on-the-job training from staff and other volunteers in the project area you choose.

Requirements for volunteering at the Refuge at the Environmental Education Center include: attending a volunteer orientation, attending scheduled trainings, and meeting the age requirements for the program. In addition, background checks may be required. Please contact Sirena Lao at sirena.lao@sfbayws.org for more information about upcoming new volunteer orientations.

Volunteer Positions

Weekend Roving Volunteers

Starting in the Summer of 2023, the EEC will start looking for volunteers to rove the open trails at the Refuge, answer visitor questions, provide trail recommendations, and tell visitors about the ongoing construction project taking place at the Alviso Unit.

  • Training: Attend a scheduled volunteer orientation to learn about the Refuge, cover Customer Service Training, and learn about expectations for Roving Volunteers.
  • Additional Requirements: Commitment of at least 1 Sunday per month for Summer-Fall 2023.
  • Hours: Shifts are from 10:00 am - 1:30 pm and 1:30 pm - 5:00 pm on Sundays as needed.

Interpretive Program Volunteers

Come help out with Sunday interpretive programs, or present one of your very own. We offer a wide variety of public interpretive programs and are always looking for new ideas and faces to share our mission of wildlife conservation and pollution prevention.

  • Training: Volunteer orientation, attend two public programs of your choice, and attend one interpretive guide training with the Refuge (Offered once per quarter).
  • Additional Requirements: Providing or assisting at 3 public programs or events for one year.
  • Hours: 3+ Hours on Sundays with some options for virtual evening programs via Zoom.

Field Trip Docents

The EEC offers environmental education programs for all student age groups. Docents will gain experience in environmental education and public speaking and will be responsible for assisting Interpretive staff with managing and leading groups of students through educational activities.

  • Training: Attend a volunteer orientation and partake in additional interpretive and environmental education training (timing to be determined). Volunteers with previous experience are highly desired.
  • Hours: Programs are generally hosted on weekdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on an as-needed basis, but some school programs may fall on weekend days to accommodate for ongoing construction.

Restoration Project Volunteers

Experienced volunteers are needed to work on the EEC's upland habitat restoration project. In the Fall and Winter, volunteers plant California native plants, and in the Spring and Summer, volunteers pull invasive species to ensure that the native plants have a chance to thrive! Volunteers will coordinate with the Watershed Watchers Program Coordinator but will follow instructions from current long-time restoration volunteers on needed work.

  • Training: Volunteer orientation and on-the-job training with current volunteers
  • Additional Requirements: Individuals and groups of all ages must be physically able to do the work. Work is primarily outdoors.
  • Hours: Tuesdays from 9:30 am - 2:00 pm with Sundays available after 2 months of restoration work.

EEC Community Science Volunteers

Become a citizen scientist! Are you interested in plants? Volunteer for one of our quarterly BioBlitz events to learn about plant monitoring and habitat restoration. Volunteers just need access to a smartphone with the iNaturalist app or a camera to take photos that can be uploaded later to the iNaturalist project via a computer.

  • Training: No training is required; please contact Sirena Lao at sirena.lao@sfbayws.org with any questions.
  • Registration: Events will be posted to Eventbrite.
  • Dates & Hours: BioBlitz for Beginners events are generally hosted once a quarter on Sundays, and self-guided BioBlitz's are hosted as flexible week-long events.

Outreach Volunteers

Help us get out into the community and spread the word about one of the Bay Area's best-kept secrets – the Refuge and its connection to our neighborhoods through our watershed.

  • Training: Volunteer Orientation, outreach training and Refuge 101 training are provided.
  • Additional Requirements: 3 outreach events may be required for a one-year commitment.
  • Hours: Hours can vary depending on the event.

Refuge Headquarters and Visitor Center (Fremont, California) at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Volunteer Positions

These volunteer positions are subject to change by the USFWS. Please reach out to Paul Mueller at paul_mueller@fws.gov with any questions.

Nature Store Coordinator

The San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society is looking for a volunteer coordinator for the Nature Stores at Fremont when the Visitor Center officially opens to the public (date to be decided). They need an individual who will use their energy to review, update and enhance the store's current inventory. Nature Store sales are one important way to enhance people's connection with our wildlife and its habitat. Below are some essential functions of the position:

  • Assist the Wildlife Society and Refuge personnel in recruiting volunteers capable of greeting refuge visitors and handling Nature Store financial transactions.
  • Assure the training of new Nature Store volunteers.
  • Update a Nature Store operations manual and assist in developing Nature Store volunteer duties and procedures.
  • Assure the maintenance of a Nature Store volunteer schedule with a six-month horizon.
  • Coordinate with and report to the Wildlife Society’s Program Coordinator.
  • Inventory management – the volunteer will figure out how to entice people to the store by encouraging and sharing curiosity for the natural world.
  • Previous retail experience preferred. Minimum six-month commitment.
  • Questions? Please contact Mary Deschene at mary.deschene@sfbayws.org.

Visitor Center Information Desk Volunteers

(Not Actively Recruiting)

Volunteers are needed to answer visitor questions, answer phones, sell bookstore items, and check out discovery packs and binoculars to interested visitors.

  • Training: Volunteer orientation and a 1-hour information desk training
  • Please contact Paul Mueller at 510 792 0222 ext. 361 or Paul_mueller@fws.gov

Warm Springs Docent

Volunteers are needed to give public tours of the Warm Springs Unit of Don Edwards SF Bay NWR (Warm Springs).

Warm Springs is a vernal pool grassland in South Fremont with beautiful vernal pool flower blooms in April. This area is otherwise closed to the public.

  • Training: Docents will be trained by Warm Springs staff and will attend at least two tours prior to leading a tour.
  • Questions: Contact Ivette Loredo, Wildlife Refuge Specialist at Ivette_Loredo@fws.gov
  • Additional Requirements: We are looking for docents who can lead two to four tours on weekends. (Two tours can be done in one day) in mid-April and make at least a two-year commitment. Tours are two hours long and limited to 20 participants.
  • Hours: Typically tours are offered at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm and last two hours.
Volunteers at the California Coastal Clean Up 2022.

Volunteers at the California Coastal Clean Up 2022.