San Diego County, California

Volunteer Opportunities

Fund for Wildlife Rehabilitation Center FieldtripWhether you’re indoor or outdoor-oriented, we have wonderful, rewarding volunteer opportunities for everyone.  In fact, many of our volunteers love the Elfin Forest so much, they volunteer in all of our programs!

Our volunteers enjoy perks such as free catered in-service trainings, gift cards for logging certain amounts of hours, and discounted or free docent fieldtrips (examples of docent fieldtrips include tours to the Hubbell Estate, wildlife rehabilitation centers, museums, butterfly farms, botanical gardens, etc.).

We hope you join us!

Give Back to Your Community and Volunteer!

Watch this video and listen to why our docents choose to volunteer.

Become a Docent

RonDocents are stationed at the Reserve’s one-of-a-kind Interpretive Center.  They provide assistance with the Center’s enriching activities, tours of the building, and general park information to visitors.  They also have the option to participate in our fun-filled school fieldtrips programs, leading groups of children through a rotation of environmental education stations.

Becoming a docent is easy!  Click here to apply, and return the completed application in person at the Elfin Forest Interpretive Center (8833 Harmony Grove Road, Escondido), or online to Ranger Jeff Anderson at:

Walter1Just make sure you meet the minimum requirements and qualifications before applying:

  • must be at least 18 years old or volunteer with an parent/guardian
  • must submit to a background check
  • must possess a valid California Driver’s license
  • must provide proof of medical insurance
  • ability to work effectively and cooperatively with docents, Reserve staff, and a diverse public
  • ability to work independently
  • ability to operate a telephone
  • good verbal communication skills
  • ability to tolerate temperature fluctuations (although work is primarily performed indoors, the Interpretive Center does not have central heating or air conditioning)

Below is a video of our Field Trip volunteers in action!

Become a Trail Patrol Volunteer

Tanya-Hank Trail PatrolTrail Patrol volunteers help maintain the trail system at the Reserve, provide information to trail users, and serve as ambassadors of our natural lands.

To become a volunteer you have to:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • submit to a background check
  • possess a valid California Driver’s license
  • provide proof of medical insurance
  • complete a six-hour training course
  • contribute a one-time $40 Trail Patrol application fee (of which $20 is a refundable deposit)
  • become First Aid and CPR certified
  • sign up for at least one 3-hour shift per month
  • be able to withstand outdoor conditions and tolerate temperature fluctuations
  • be able to interact with the public, staff, and volunteers with professionalism

The Trail Patrol training course is offered every four months.  It consists of two 3-hour sessions held on back-to-back Saturdays.  New recruits must attend both sessions to become a volunteer.  Training course topics will include a thorough explanation of the program and volunteer duties, park rules & regulations, safety & security, trail maintenance techniques, nature interpretation techniques, identifying native and invasive plants, an introduction to local wildlife, and how to use the specialized communication radio.

For the uniforms, we provide a standardized hat, backpack, a short-sleeve & long-sleeve shirt, and a backpack.  When volunteers can no longer continue to participate in the program we refund $20 of the $40 application fee upon return of the uniform.  Volunteers are responsible for providing their own hiking shoes and green-colored pants/shorts of choice.

All Trail Patrol volunteers must also have up-to-date adult First Aid and CPR certification (which is separate from the regular Trail Patrol training course).  Since we do not provide the certification ourselves, recruits have to shop around the various independent certifiers in the area and sign up for the one that is most convenient for them.
Click here to apply.  Please return the completed application and $40 in person to Simon Breen at The Escondido Creek Conservancy office, located at 104 W. Grand Ave, Escondido 92025.  Checks should be made payable to the Olivenhain Municipal Water District.

For further questions about the program, please contact the program coordinator, Simon Breen:

Become a Specialized Naturalist

IMG_20141107_092439585_HDRIf you have a relevant specialized skill or interest and would like to offer free lectures, tours, workshops, etc. at the Elfin Forest, please contact Education Manager Simon Breen:

Examples of current and past volunteer naturalists at the Elfin Forest include a wildlife tracker, an insect specialist, a Native American & native plants specialist, a wilderness survivalist, and a birdhouse maker.