Volunteer at the EcoCenter

Volunteer at the EcoCenter

Are you passionate about the environment? Do you like engaging with others, sharing knowledge, and promoting learning and stewardship? Then Environmental Volunteers has the role for you!

We’re looking for reliable, friendly people who are committed to great customer service and enthusiastic about promoting public understanding and appreciation of the natural environment. Our EcoCenter Docents ensure that visitors to the Environmental Volunteers' EcoCenter have a rewarding experience.

Skills needed:

  • Friendly disposition and great customer service skills
  • Ability to relate to a wide range of people
  • Passion for nature, and environmental stewardship
  • Support for the EV’s mission to promote the understanding of and responsibility for the environment through hands-on science education.

This role is perfect for someone who is available on the weekends, has a passion for the environment, and is passionate about providing a great visitor experience. No previous experience is needed for this role and training will be provided for all successful applicants. Our training ensures that all volunteers have the necessary knowledge and skills for working with their audience, and are confident in the material they are sharing.

As an EcoCenter Docent, you will always be supported by a staff member. We offer flexible hours, so you can choose shifts that best fit your lifestyle.

To take the next step in joining our team, fill in a Volunteer Information Form!


What is an EcoCenter Docent?
Our EcoCenter Docents are the public face of the EV at our nature center in the Palo Alto Baylands. Our Docents greet the public, share hands-on learning activities including interactive touchscreen displays, and answer any questions visitors may have about the EcoCenter or surrounding Baylands. During quiet times, our Docents might be working on office projects or helping to keep our teaching materials in tip-top condition.

How old do I have to be?
To be an EcoCenter docent, you must be at least 14 years of age.

What is involved in training?
We hold several half-day training sessions during the year, and all docents are asked to attend a minimum of one official training session. At training you will learn about the day-to-day workings of the EcoCenter, customer service techniques, and information about the Baylands. Continuing education is also available throughout the year.

I don’t know much about the Baylands. Can I still volunteer?
Yes! Our training provides you with background information about the local environment, and you are always welcome to take materials home to study.

I’m interested in working at the EcoCenter, and in schools. Can I do both?
Yes! Many of our EcoCenter Docents also train as School Programs Volunteers.

Where are you based? Do you have opportunities for people outside of the Bay Area?
Our EcoCenter is based in the Palo Alto Baylands. We do not currently have opportunities outside of the Bay Area.

What benefits would I get from volunteering?
Not only will you gain new skills, learn about local environments, and experience the satisfaction of doing something that makes a difference, we also offer a few perks along the way! From picnics to potlucks, we hold several social events throughout the year. Our weekly digest and monthly newsletters keep you up to date with everything happening at the EV, and during the summer we have Summer Camp for Docents, a series of events and day trips arranged exclusively for EV volunteers, and we have a Yahoo group where our EV community shares interesting stories, upcoming events, and relevant information.

What is the time commitment required to volunteer?
Our volunteers commit to a minimum of two volunteer shifts (2.5 hours each) a month, however we encourage you to volunteer for at least one shift per week.

Is it flexible?
Yes. You can choose to volunteer for fixed shifts, or change week by week as suits you. Our volunteers lead busy lives and we are happy to make accommodating arrangements for vacations, exams, or other life events.

Is there a cost involved with volunteering?
Our half-day training course costs $25.00. This subsidized course fee helps cover the cost of our training materials. Scholarships are available. Parking at the EcoCenter is always free. You are also asked to cover the cost of your background check. Our fingerprinting locations in Palo Alto and Campbell offer a fixed price of $40, payable directly to the Environmental Volunteers. You may request reimbursement of this cost after fulfilling 6 months of your minimum service requriement.

Do you perform a background check on volunteers?
Yes, a background check is required on all volunteers over 18 years of age. This ensures that our volunteers and visitors are well cared for and that we operate with the highest levels of safety and security. Further information regarding background checks will be provided at training.

How do I get started?
Just fill in a Volunteer Information Form and we'll be in touch about the next steps for joining our team! We hope you will join us and help inspire a love science and nature in others!