Volunteer: Winter Wildlife Docent

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 education areas at the Lighthouse Observation Deck, South Beach Overlook, Elephant Seal Overlook, Historic Lifeboat Station, and Drakes Beach
  • Perform interpretive roves along Drakes Beach and the Chimney Rock Trail
  • Set up and break down spotting scopes and interpretive and educational materials at public viewing locations; open and close 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
  • Provide general park information and assistance to visitors
  • Use interpretive materials to help communicate information
  • Professionally represent the National Park Service by wearing an identifying docent vest and interact 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 very 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.

Knowledge of the park and teaching experience is helpful.

Schedule and Time Commitment

Docent workdays are scheduled for four hours on weekdays (variable times) and six hours on weekends (10 am until 4 pm) from mid-December through the end of April. Docents are expected to volunteer a season-minimum of 36 hours. Docents may be asked to continue to volunteer into an extended season depending on wildlife activity and staffing needs according to program goals.

A woman points to an image of a seal pup projected on a screen while talking to a seated audience.
Dr. Sarah Allen talks to Winter Wildlife Docents-in-training about elephant seals on November 19, 2016.


For the 2023–2024 season, training is scheduled for two days in November and one day in December. Docents are required to attend training as follows:

New docents must attend the full Winter Wildlife Docent training (two days in November and one day in December). Dates for the 2023–24 season are November 11 and 12, 2023, and December 2, 2023.

Returning docents must attend one day of Winter Wildlife Docent training on December 2, 2023.

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.

Group Type

Individuals are encouraged to participate.

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.

Application and Contact Information

Please apply via Volunteer.gov by Wednesday, October 18, 2023, if you are interested in volunteering. For more information, contact Matthew Enderle at 415-464-5146 or by email.

Last updated: September 17, 2023

Park footer

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 (i.e., 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.

Contact Us