Volunteer Work

Many of these organizations allow children and teens to volunteer as well; check their age requirements or ask if your child can volunteer if you or other adult accompanies them.

Animal Services of Santa Cruz County
Volunteers must be 16 years of age or older to volunteer to work hands on with the animals at the shelter. If you are 13 –15 years old, you may work with the animals as long as you partner with the same parent at all times. Young people under the age of 13 may help with office work opportunities.

Big Brothers; Big Sisters
Help mentor children who come from mostly single-parent families and who are between the ages of 7-14 years old. Mentors share a few hours per week playing, hanging out, or doing activities together.

Through weekly visits and advocacy, volunteers build a relationship with a needy child or teen, as well as becoming an advocate for them as they navigate the many social services agencies, schools, court system, mental health system, and other community services.

Children and Nature Network (C&NN) Natural Service Network
Find out how to help with nature preservation, encourage nature-based play, and volunteer for nature-based intergenerational projects.

Community Television
Become a member and take inexpensive classes in video production (children can take classes with their parents; teens can take alone) and then volunteer your time on studio, community, or live productions.

Conflict Resolution Center (CRC)
Offers public workshops and on-site training, mediation, facilitation, and consultation to individuals, small businesses and non-profits throughout Santa Cruz County. Also provides County of Santa Cruz Small Claims Mediation Program as an alternative to court hearings and the Victim-Offender Dialogue Program, which facilitates meetings between juvenile offenders and the victims of their crimes.

Teens can organize and post a volunteer opportunity or search for one near where they live or a way to help online.  Parents should check out all opportunities before their teen decides to participate. Other features on this site too.

Elkhorn Slough Volunteer Opportunities
1700 Elkhorn Rd., Watsonville, CA
728-2822 ext. 303
Learn about the natural history and importance of the Elkhorn Slough, gain a deeper understanding of the environment, develop personal relationships with professionals, and meet others who share your interest in the slough.
“The volunteer training program provides the opportunity to  learn in-depth information about the Elkhorn Slough – its history, wildlife, and community.”

Habitat for Humanity – Santa Cruz County
Join with others to build homes for local low-income families, learning skills as you go.

Hospice of Santa Cruz County
Volunteers can visit terminally ill patients, support loved ones during their grief, and assist in our office. They can also speak about hospice services in the community or help with fundraising events.

Long Marine Lab and Seymour Center
Seymour Center at Long Marine Lab
100 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, CA
Apprentice guides assist visitors at the seawater tables and help in the aquarium and exhibit hall. Docent guides give special presentations and lead tours of the center. School program volunteers help lead activity stations as part of school visits. Raptor observers staff care and release programs for salvaged falcons and other birds. Volunteer aquarists prepare food, feed aquarium animals, clean tanks, and monitor animals and equipment. Volunteers are also needed for gardening, special events, maintenance, and administrative duties or helpers.

Meals on Wheels
Help older adults by delivering meals directly to their home or by serving meals at centers, and providing needed food and caring human contact.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Volunteer opportunities available for youth and adults.

Native Animal Rescue
1855  17th Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA
Much needed volunteers help with animal care at the center or foster care at home, as well as other jobs such as laundry, answering the telephone, driving, as well as special rescue operations.

Roots and Shoots (Program of the Jane Goodall Institute)
Be part of a global organization of kid, teen, college student, and adult volunteers who “take action all over the world, wherever people come together with a common desire to make a difference—in classrooms, home schools, nature centers, neighborhoods, refugee camps, zoos, scout troops and beyond.”

Find a group near you here

Click here to find a group in the Greater Monterey Bay and South Bay Areas

Santa Cruz County Fair -  Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds Office
2601 East Lake Avenue, Watsonville, CA
Volunteer for 4 hour shifts at the fair or join in helping with events or fair planning.

Santa Cruz County Red Cross
Train to help with disaster preparedness, disaster relief, health and safety services, armed forces emergency services, blood services, transportation to out of county medical services, and other services.

Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
1305 E. Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, CA
Docent guides carry out the Museum’s programs for local school children and other visitors or work at the Front Desk/Retail Store. Live animal care, gardenening, and help with special exhibitions or outreach is also needed. Join the museum association for members only events and activities.

Santa Cruz Public Library Volunteer Guide

Adult Volunteers
Lots of listings of agencies seeking volunteers.

Youth Volunteers

Senior Network Services Volunteer Resources
These are recommended volunteer options for seniors but could be options for any adult, and some may be appropriate for teens, as well.

2685 Chanticleer Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA
Offer services as artist/photographer, or with special events, foster parenting underage or under socialized animals, office work, animal care, providing animals with affection and exercise.

UCSC Farm & Garden Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems.
156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064
831 459-4661
Offers a six-month Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. Youth and adult volunteers also needed.

Connect with participating local volunteer groups.

Volunteer Centers of Santa Cruz County
Adopt-A-Family, CitySERVE, Community Connections, File of Life, Friends Outside, Graffiti Removal, Helping Hands, Human Race, Junior Volunteer Program, Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), The Literacy Program, Transportation Program, Volunteer Initiative Program, Volunteer Referral, and YouthSERVE programs offered.  Use their ‘search’ feature and specify age group of the volunteering person (does have youth under 14, youth from 15-18, and up to adults, as well as ‘families’ and ‘groups’ categories for volunteers.)

Santa Cruz Volunteer Center
1010 Emeline Avenue, Building C, Santa Cruz, CA

Human Race Headquarters
1010 Emeline Avenue, Building C, Santa Cruz, CA

San Lorenzo Valley Volunteer Center
PO Box 206, Ben Lomond, CA

Watsonville Volunteer Center
12 Carr Street, Watsonville, CA
Fax:  831-768-7593

209 Center Street, Santa Cruz, CA

Wilder Ranch State Park
Highway 1, Santa Cruz, CA
Volunteer as a docent, lead tours, care for animals, demonstrate skills, or help with special events.

Shakespeare Santa Cruz
Volunteer to usher at SSC’s summer performances at the Main Stage or Glen (outdoor theater) as an usher or for concessions. Free entrance to shows for commitment to work. Children over 8 may ‘work’ with their parents. Great opportunity to learn about and see quality theater for free.