Volunteers in Parks Program Banner


Volunteers are vital to California’s State Parks. The first volunteers served over 100 years ago and worked hard to preserve our most treasured places and teach the public about their value. Today, the program has grown to over 22,000 volunteers who donated over 750,000 hours of time in 2022. They assist staff in countless ways, in nearly all of California's State Parks. Please consider volunteering today and be the difference in your parks tomorrow!  

How to Become a California State Parks Volunteer


As a volunteer, you must be willing and able to carry out your assigned duties and responsibilities. You must also be reliable and committed. Job duties are matched to the interests and abilities of the volunteer. A criminal background check may be required. Persons under 18 years of age may volunteer with written permission from a parent or guardian. There are several categories and types of volunteer positions (see list below). 


Training and Working Conditions 

If selected, you will receive training to acquaint you with the park and your specific duties. Hours for most volunteer positions are flexible and vary depending upon park needs and your availability. The amount of time volunteered is mutually agreed upon by the volunteer and their supervisor before they start and may be changed as circumstances dictate. 

If you cannot commit to volunteering regularly at your local park, many of our parks offer single-day and other short-term volunteer opportunities for both individuals and groups (such as beach and trail clean ups).  If you are interested in this kind of opportunity, contact your local park for more information.  Our interactive map can be used to identify parks in your area. 


How to Apply 

After identifying the district or park(s) in which you would like to serve, please contact the district or park volunteer coordinator (contact information can be found in the Volunteers in Parks Program Brochure link on the top of this page) to ask about current volunteer opportunities and how to apply. You may apply to more than one park.  

Describe on the application any relevant experience, education, talents, skills and interests you possess. Each park has its own needs and will be looking for volunteers with the ability to accomplish certain tasks. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for the coordinator to place you in a volunteer position that meets your needs as well as the parks’. 

A number of parks now accept online applications.  To learn more about these opportunities and complete an online application, please visit our volunteer recruitment webpage. 


If you would like to receive a volunteer packet, please contact (916) 653-9069 or Volunteer.inparksprogram@parks.ca.gov with your name and mailing or e-mail address.  

Volunteer Brochure

For more information about volunteering for California State Parks, as well as volunteer program contact information for each district, please see our Volunteer Program Brochure, available in English and Spanish.  

Learn About Volunteer Positions

Central Valley-CBT Interpretation for Visitors
Docents are highly trained volunteers who interpret the cultural, natural and recreational features of state parks for visitors. 

Docents receive initial and continuing enrichment training to which they add their own unique approach and experiences. If you have a passion for sharing and enjoy speaking to the public, a docent position may be a good fit for you.  

Interpretive activities that docents become involved with include:

  • Educational Programs for School Groups and International Visitors
  • Museum Tours, Nature Hikes, Train Rides, Redwood Strolls, ATV Tours  
  • Living History Reenactments and Demonstrations

campground hostsCampground and Park Hosts 

Hosts are visible representatives in California State Parks' campgrounds and day-use areas. Hosts may perform a multitude of duties to help the park including: 

      Assisting visitors; 

      Collecting fees; 

      Performing light janitorial and maintenance duties; 

      Conducting interpretive programs, and; 

      Encouraging compliance with park rules and regulations (although hosts do not perform actual law enforcement duties).  

Hosts temporarily reside in a campsite in a park unit and typically serve 25-30 hours per week. Most parks require a minimum commitment of one to three months, with a maximum stay of six months per park. More information on applying to become a camp or park host, as well as host position availability can be found on our Host Opportunity Page.. 

Santa Cruz- Henry CowellPublic Contact
Visitor Center Volunteers answer questions and provide information to visitors at park entrances and/or visitor centers.

If you enjoy working with the public, this may be the position for you!


Calaveras Big Tree Maint.
Park Maintenance

Park maintenance volunteers serve alongside park staff helping with various maintenance projects around the park including:

  • Painting;
  • Rebuilding fencing;
  • Maintaining signage;
  • Performing various repairs, and more!



Colorado D- Cathy HarlowNatural Resource Management

Natural resource volunteers play a pivotal role in habitat restoration and monitoring, wildlife surveys, and invasive species eradication in our parks. Typical tasks include:

Natural resource volunteers play a pivotal role in habitat restoration and monitoring, wildlife surveys, and invasive species eradication in our parks. Typical tasks include:

  • Pulling weeds;
  • Planting native species;
  • Monitoring vulnerable species populations, and;
  • Cleaning up beaches and trails in parks.

Hollister Hills- Nathan BenitezPublic Safety

Horseback, Mountain Bike, Foot, Boat, and All-Terrain Vehicle Patrols are conducted by volunteers who provide information and assistance.

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Patrols in State Vehicular Recreation Areas (SVRAs) provide safety information, first aid and emergency assistance on a regular basis and during special off-highway racing events.


Village Build
Cultural Resource Management

If you are fascinated with history and have a passion for preservation or archival work, volunteering in one of our cultural resource management volunteer programs may be a good fit for you!

Cultural resource management volunteers conduct research and assist in archeological and curatorial work, serve as site stewards, and perform other tasks focused on preserving California’s cultural past for future generations.


Ide Adobe- Eddie TapiaAdditional Opportunities

Other types of volunteer opportunities may be available at one of your local parks, so you can reach out to individual parks to learn more about the opportunities they offer and how you can become involved.

Additional types of opportunities may include:

  • Serving as a student volunteer or intern.
  • Park administration – clerical support, gathering and complying statistical data, special event assistance, and other administrative functions.
  • Public relations – creating and maintaining website and social media content; creating press releases, etc.
  • And more!


Explore the Volunteers In Parks Program

Campground and Park Hosts

Volunteer Application

Learn About Volunteer Recognition


log into better impact

Program, Policies, and Handbooks

California state parks foundation

Contact Us

Email: Volunteer.inparksprogram@parks.ca.gov
Phone:(916) 653-9069

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