Current Volunteer Needs

Please review our current needs listed below before submitting an application. To apply for any of these positions, please complete the volunteer application. The Volunteer Department will contact you to schedule an interview. If you have specific questions, please call Janet Morris at 619.255.0245 or You must be at least 18 years old to volunteer for the science departments and openings are limited.

Apply to Volunteer

Interested in employment at the Museum? View our current job openings .

Entomology Project—Can be Done from Home

The Entomology Department is recruiting volunteers to assist with a National Science Foundation project. The Lepidoptera of North America Network (LepNet) is a collaboration of 28 institutions aiming to digitize nearly 3 million butterfly and moth museum specimens. The Entomology Department has committed to digitizing over 150,000 specimens from southern California and Baja California to LepNet. This effort will help fill data gaps for an area widely regarded as biogeographically significant and a biodiversity hotspot, and will be useful in guiding future conservation efforts and ecological monitoring.

Volunteers will assist in accurate data entry based on standardized protocols via photographs of specimens and their corresponding label information. Volunteers must have general familiarity with computers and the ability to type accurately and efficiently. Work can be completed on-site at the museum or at home, as all data entry will occur on a simple online database. On-site future work may include gentle handling of specimens for photography and curation of the collection. Ideally you would be willing to commit 4 hours/week to the project, but we can also accommodate any time commitment you're willing to contribute. As a volunteer, you will be essential to ensuring that the LepNet project runs smoothly and our digitization goals are met within the two-year timeline.

Apply today. Please select the LepNet Butterfly Project application.

Put the NAT in NATuralist.

Join our newest volunteer group—the NATuralists. Engage our guests with fun, interactive games that connect people to nature in a unique way. You don’t have to be an expert in natural history, you just need to be outgoing, able to easily approach strangers, and curious about nature. Volunteers 16 and up can volunteer alone. Volunteer with your child ages 9–15. We find that youth volunteering with their parents is a great way to connect with other people. We ask for a minimum 2 1/2 hour shift three times a month for 6 months. Training will be arranged. Apply today.

Unpaid Library Internship—Archives Department

Availability: Immediate opening. Flexible schedule working Tuesday through Thursday, on-site hours to be determined by the intern. Some remote work is possible.

Job Description: Primary job responsibilities include working with our collection of historical photographs, field notes, diaries, and other primary documents that chronicle the early years of the Natural History Museum. Our naturalists and research scientists have been actively documenting animals, plants, and fossils throughout southern California and Baja California since the late 1800s. Internship responsibilities include historical/biographical research, description and arrangement of archival collections, preparation of finding aids, creation of digital objects, authority work, metadata aggregation, and MARC cataloging of archival material. We publish digitized archival material at the Internet Archive and make finding aids available through the Online Archive of California.

As an intern, you will gain experience digitizing materials and assigning metadata; you will work with both commercial software (e.g., Excel, Adobe Photoshop and Bridge) and open-source applications such as MarcEdit, Archivesspace, and OpenRefine. You will also learn about working in a research library/archives within a vibrant museum with a dedicated and enthusiastic staff and research-active associates.

Although we cannot offer paid compensation, we offer valuable experience in the practical application of best practices in developing access to archival materials.

Please complete an intern application to apply. If you have specific questions, you may contact:

Margaret Dykens
Registrar and Director of the Research Library
San Diego Natural History Museum
1788 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101