Volunteer: Winter Wildlife Docent

A volunteer in a red vest standing on a bench talks to park visitors near a beach.
Winter Wildlife Docents don their famous red vests and educate park visitors about the marine mammals that call Point Reyes home!

NPS Photo/S. Frisbie

Two winter wildlife docents wearing red vests and two visitors looking for whales from a fenced-in observation deck.


The Winter Wildlife Docent promotes awareness and protection of northern elephant seals, gray whales, and other marine life by helping visitors view, understand, and appreciate these species; helps visitors understand the ongoing management and research issues relating to northern elephant seals in Point Reyes National Seashore; and provides general park information and assistance to visitors.


  • Staff public wildlife viewing and educational areas at Drakes Beach, the Lighthouse Observation Deck, Elephant Seal Overlook, and the Historic Lifeboat Station.
  • Help visitors view, understand, and appreciate northern elephant seals, gray whales, and other marine life by interpreting observed behaviors and educating visitors about the natural history of these species
  • Help visitors understand the ongoing management and research issues relating to northern elephant seals in Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Set up and break down spotting scopes and interpretive and educational materials at public viewing locations.
  • Provide general park information and assistance to visitors
  • Professionally represent the National Park Service by interacting with visitors in a friendly, courteous, tactful, and helpful manner
  • Operate a two-way radio to communicate with fellow docents and park staff

Knowledge/Skills/Experience Desired

Docents must possess good oral communication skills with a diversity of people and be able to work independently. Docents must also be able to spend a majority of the time standing, walking, and/or hiking; be able to tolerate sun, wind, fog, and cold; and be able to carry up to fifteen pounds of interpretive materials a distance of up to one-fifth mile. Reasonable accomodations can be made for interested applicants who so require.

Exisiting knowledge of Point Reyes National Seashore or teaching experience is helpful, but not a necessity.

Schedule and Time Commitment

The Winter Wildlife Docent Program runs daily from mid-December to mid-April. The daily docent shift is from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, and docents are expected to sign up for a minimum of 8 shifts per season.

A close up photo of a sleeping elephant seal on a beach, with blurry people in the background.

NPS Photo/J. Weinberg


Docents are required to attend training as follows:

New docents must attend the full Winter Wildlife Docent training, which is typically one full weekend in November (two days) and one day in December.

Returning docents must attend one day of training in December.

Exact dates for the 2024-2025 season are yet to be determined.

Benefits to the Volunteer

The Winter Wildlife Docent gains personal enrichment and experience working in a national park setting; training and education about northern elephant seals, gray whales and related park resources; satisfaction of promoting awareness and protection of northern elephant seals and gray whales; and satisfaction and experience in communicating with and helping park visitors while representing the National Park Service.

Minimum Age

Minimum age is sixteen. Volunteers under eighteen years of age must have a signed parental consent form. Please contact us (see below) for more information.


Housing and camping/RV sites are unavailable.

Interested in becoming a Winter Wildlife Docent?

Contact us to get on our email list, and be notified when the application period is open!

Last updated: January 9, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (e.g., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; fire danger information; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.

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