Volunteer - Morro Bay National Estuary Program

5.21.2010 backbay (12)

Help keep Morro Bay clean to ensure a great life for all of us!



The Estuary Program offers different volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Some opportunities require an ongoing commitment while others are one-time events.

If you are interested in volunteering with us, please read and fill out the form below. Estuary Program staff will review the information you provide and will contact you if we have an open position that matches your interests and availability.

Full Name (required)

Phone Number (required)

Email (required)

City of Residence (required)


Over the age of 18? (required)


Activities of Interest  (required — check up to three)

Please be sure to note the frequency, commitment, and requirements for each volunteer activity you choose.



Use test kits and meters to monitor water quality parameters in local creeks that empty into the estuary. Following training with program staff, teams of two volunteers independently monitor one or two creek sites.

   Frequency — two hours per month, year-round
   Commitment — six-month minimum
   Requirements — use of personal vehicle and limited hiking

Creek Water Quality Monitoring occurs only on weekdays during office hours. This position opens intermittently.



Monitor oxygen, temperature, and salinity levels in the estuary during the early morning hours via kayak.

   Frequency — two hours per month, year-round
   Commitment — six-month minimum
   Requirements — transportation and use of personal kayak

This position opens intermittently.



Collect marine phytoplankton, and conduct identification and counts using a microscope.

   Frequency — two hours per month, year-round
   Commitment — six-month minimum
   Requirement — transportation

This position opens intermittently.



Collect water samples in the field and conduct a test for bacteria in the lab. Attend staff-conducted training in collection and processing using sterile technique.

   Frequency — two to three hours per month, year-round
   Commitment — six-month minimum
   Requirements — flexibility with scheduling, transportation, and limited hiking

This position opens intermittently.



Assist Estuary Program staff with collecting and transplanting eelgrass, or monitoring existing eelgrass plots.

   Frequency — varies depending on overall restoration and monitoring plans as well as tides, weather, and other conditions.
   Commitment — varies
   Requirements — transportation; ability to stand, walk, and kneel in mud and on uneven terrain; kayaking ability required for certain tasks.

This position opens intermittently.



Hike up local streams to collect stream-bottom invertebrates and assess fish and riparian habitat features. Learn water quality and stream surveying techniques. Attend training with staff.

   Frequency — one training session followed by several monitoring sessions in the spring
   Commitment — four hours per site during spring season
   Requirements — availability to monitor at least one site following training, limited hiking (rough terrain at some sites)

We need volunteers for this monitoring effort each spring. Please check this box to be added to the interest list and we will follow up with more details as the season approaches.



Be a program representative and lend a hand at local events put on by the Estuary Program or partner organizations throughout the year.



Give educational demonstrations and short lessons related to the estuary and watershed to Estuary Nature Center visitors of all ages. Participate in an initial three-hour training session, lesson planning and review process, and occasional follow-up trainings (no more than three per year). Prior teaching experience or other work with kids, families, and the public is a plus for this position.

   Frequency — At least one program session per month. Times and days of the week may vary. Some planning and practice time at home.
   Commitment — three-month minimum, preferably during the summer months
   Requirements — transportation to the Nature Center



An annual event where volunteers join together to remove trash and recyclables from beaches, streams, and waterways worldwide. Occurs in the morning on the third Saturday of September. The Estuary Program hosts a cleanup on the Morro Bay sandspit and registration is limited based on boat capacity. (Typically around 20 people.) Please let us know if you prefer to paddle over to the cleanup site using your own kayak or paddleboard. We will add you to an interest list and send details in August.


The Estuary Program is always looking for beautiful, high-resolution photographs of local plants and wildlife, the bay and watershed, and people recreating responsibly on and around the bay. We use these photographs for our website, blog, print materials, and other publications. If you are interested in sharing your photographs for use, please check this box. We give credit to our volunteer photographers when we use their work.


What days and times are you typically available?


Tell us about yourself.

Knowing more about you will help us match you with the right volunteer opportunity.


Please list other special skills you’d like to share with the Estuary Program.

The Estuary Program frequently needs help from writers, graphic designers, photographers, fundraisers, performers, teachers, and others.

Opportunities with our Partner Organizations

Many of our partners need volunteer help, too. Here are some other volunteer opportunities around the bay.


Small Wilderness Area Preservation (SWAP) and Elfin Forest Work Parties – First Saturday Work Parties are generally held from nine to noon on the first Saturday of each month. Visit SWAP’s website for more info and to contact organizers.

Morro Coast Audubon Society needs volunteers at the Sweet Springs Preserve and for the Christmas Bird count, among other events. The Audubon Society provides a list of contacts for their different volunteer opportunities on their website.

The Central Coast State Parks Association  informs visitors about natural and cultural aspects of the Central Coast. Volunteer locations include the Morro Bay Natural History Museum.

Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers (CCCMB) consistently holds work parties across the watershed to maintain, design, and build sustainable biking trails. Visit CCCMB’s website to connect with other bikers and help keep up Central Coast  trails.

Morro Bay in Bloom is part a nationwide network that encourages civic beautification. This local chapter strives to make Morro Bay a better place with regular two-hour cleanups and special projects to engage with the community. Check out Morro Bay in Bloom’s volunteer page to sign up for a two-hour gardening session.

San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden strives to show the diverse native plant life that thrives in the county’s Mediterranean climate, and to highlight sustainable gardening practices. SLO Botanical Garden lists a variety of volunteer opportunities on their website.

The Central Coast Aquarium is located slightly south on Avila Beach, however they share their knowledge of marine science across the Central Coast. Find out how you can apply your skills to educate others about aquatic life and our role as neighbors to the ocean.

California Native Plant Society, SLO Chapter teaches about flora native to SLO County while helping to preserve plant collections for future scientific research. Find an updated calendar with volunteer opportunities and other events on their website.

Wheels to Water takes people with disabilities kayaking on Morro Bay to enjoy the views, the wildlife, and the freedom of being on the water. They use state-of-the-art adaptive equipment so that people with a wide range of abilities can paddle safely and comfortably. Wheels to Water seeks volunteers to help out during kayaking events; learn more on their website or email for more information.

Morro Bay National Estuary Program brings together citizens, local governments, non-profits, agencies, and landowners to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary.

Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.