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Volunteer Programs

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with The Escondido Creek Conservancy. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on volunteers to help us accomplish our mission. Whether you want to help us take care of our protected lands, fundraise, or support the education team there are many opportunities to make a difference in the Escondido Creek watershed.

Have questions about volunteering? Contact:

Outdoor Education Volunteers

The Escondido Creek Conservancy provides field trips for students at the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, and on Conservancy properties. Our fun, science-based outdoor education programs are designed to encourage curiosity, help kids understand the natural world, and develop an appreciation for nature. Field trips are typically held on weekdays between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm.

Volunteers have always been integral to our success. Over the years the programs have been growing in popularity, from just a few hundred students in the first year, to thousands in recent years. Our goal is to eventually provide positive outdoor experiences for every school in the Escondido Creek watershed. But to achieve this goal and meet our rising demand, we need volunteers more than ever. Please join us in giving children the gift of nature.
To become a volunteer you have to:

  • must be at least 18 years old or volunteer with an parent/guardian.
  • must pass a background check.
  • ability to work effectively and cooperatively with docents, Reserve staff, and a diverse public.
  • good verbal communication skills.

You can contact our Education Director directly at

Escondido Creek Conservancy volunteers planting trees

Shrub Club

Get outside and enjoy our nature with other passionate volunteers. We’ll remove invasive species, fix trails, and make room for native plants and animals to flourish in the Escondido Creek watershed. Volunteer work can be labor intensive but everyone is encouraged to work at their own pace. Locations vary throughout North County but are often along the creek near Elfin Forest or surrounding open spaces in Escondido. Participation counts toward community service hours.

Volunteers must bring water, hat, and good hiking shoes. Long pants are encouraged for working in thick vegetation. Tools and gloves will be provided but please bring your own tools if you have them. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or chaperone.

Land Stewards

Land Stewards explore and monitor the trail systems at Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, the Conservancy’s neighboring Los Cielos Preserve, and potentially other preserve properties. Volunteers provide information to trail users and serve as ambassadors of our natural lands by reporting trail disturbances and invasive species.
To become a volunteer you have to:

  • be at least 18 years old.
  • pass a background check.
  • complete a 3 hour training course.
  • contribute a one-time $40 Trail Patrol application fee (of which $20 is a refundable deposit).
  • be or 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.

Interpretive Center Docents

Docents are stationed at the Reserve’s one-of-a-kind Interpretive Center that hosts bi-monthly educational speakers and interactive exhibits.  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 field trips programs, leading groups of children through a rotation of environmental education stations.


  • must be at least 18 years old or volunteer with an parent/guardian
  • must pass a background check
  • ability to work effectively and cooperatively with docents, Reserve staff, and a diverse public
  • good verbal communication skills

Water Quality Team

Over the years, numerous agencies and special interest groups have conducted water quality testing on various sections of Escondido Creek. Although these tests have provided useful information, they have not always been conducted regularly at the same locations. Beginning in September, 2011, the Conservancy began conducting routine water quality monitoring at four sites along the Escondido Creek. The purpose of the Water Quality Monitoring Program is to establish a baseline that will be used to evaluate the condition and overall health of Escondido Creek on an ongoing basis, as well as to identify short- and long-term trends.

Many of these water quality parameters have improved since monitoring began, but there is still much more work to be done. The natural creek (as opposed to the concrete flood control channel in downtown Escondido) acts as a biofilter, removing pollutants from the creek as it progresses toward the ocean. One of the Conservancy’s long-term goals is to re-naturalize this concrete channel in order to provide greater benefits to both people and wildlife.