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Volunteer Opportunities

1 JimKissingger @ BBQ Grill DSC_0583 by doug lithgow

Do Your Part to Help the Environment! Sea and Sage Audubon depends on volunteers like you to accomplish its mission and goals. Come be part of a friendly and fun team of nature lovers and protectors. Put your talents into action. Opportunities are available for single day, multiple days, seasonal, or longer-term. From the list below, choose a specific way that you can get involved to make a difference. Volunteer today!

Benefits of Volunteering with Sea and Sage Audubon Society include helping to protect birds and their habitat, increasing your knowledge about birds and nature, working outdoors in beautiful habitat, meeting new people who share your interest in the environment, having fun, and being part of an important organization that protects our incredible natural resources for now and the future.

Seasonal Opportunities – Single Day

(no training needed)

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General help with the annual Pancake Breakfast.

  • Volunteers help in a variety of ways from preparing & serving food, arranging tables and chairs, directing parking, cleaning tables, and more.
  • Event is the fourth Saturday in October from 7 AM to 12 PM at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine.
  • Contact Mary Joseph, Pancake Breakfast Coordinator, at
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General help with the annual Summer Barbeque.

  • Volunteers help in a variety of ways during the barbeque and evening presentation as they prepare & serve food, clean tables, assist used book sale, set up audio-visual materials for the night’s presentation, and give general support to make this family-friendly event an enjoyable one.
  • Outdoor event is September 10, 2022 the last Saturday in July from 3:30-9 PM at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine.
  • “I love volunteering for the Summer BBQ because I get to grill the hot dogs, see friends and enjoy an old-fashioned picnic. There are plenty of activities including a bird walk and there is always a good speaker after dinner.” – Jim Kissinger.
  • Contact Gail Richards, Summer Barbeque Coordinator, at

Seasonal Opportunities – Single Day

(some birding experience recommended)

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Count birds during Orange County Spring Count.   

  • Volunteers count birds and enter their tallies onto eBird as part of a nationwide migration count.
  • Event occurs during April and May at birding hotspots throughout Orange County.
  • Contact Darrell Wilson, Orange County Spring Count Coordinator.
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Count birds during Christmas Bird Count (CBC).    

  • Volunteers from beginners to experienced birders tally birds in a specific location on one day during at least one of four different Christmas Bird Counts.
  • Choose from four dates in mid-December to early January at dozens of locations throughout Orange County. Shifts can be for 4 hours or all day.
  • “Counting all the wintering birds can be challenging, but it’s worthwhile knowing that we’re helping scientists keep track of the status and distribution of birds. Christmas Bird Count is the longest running volunteer program for over 120 years!” – Trude Hurd
  • For the NE (Inland Areas) CBC, contact Doug Lithgow at
  • For the Coastal Areas CBC, contact Bettina Eastman at
  • For the San Juan Capistrano CBC, contact Darrell Wilson at
  • For the Puente-Chino Hills CBC, contact Samuel Bressler at

Seasonal Opportunities – Multiple Days

(some training and/or experience required)

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Monitor Tree Swallow Nest Boxes.   

  • Volunteers monitor Tree Swallow nest boxes each week during breeding season (March through July) at an urban wetland. They visit each box, see if a nest is present, record number of eggs, number of chicks, age chicks, note how many chicks successfully leave, and clean out the box in preparation for the next nesting. Opportunities exist to observe biologists band chicks.
  • Program is weekly from March through August at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine.
  • “Monitoring Tree Swallows is a rewarding and rare opportunity to interact and assist these precious birds up close while being intimately involved with their lives and watching them raise their babies. Being out at the marsh regularly is a huge plus, and you are doing something really worthwhile. Every season, I look forward to this wonderful program.” – Star Howard.
  • Contact Christine Tischer, Nest Box Coordinator before February.
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Promote Sea and Sage during Community Exhibits.    

  • Volunteers inform people about Sea and Sage Audubon, share their passion for birds, and answer the public’s questions about birds.
  • Event is a promotional table at a community event at various Orange County locations throughout the year especially in spring. Shifts are 2-hours.
  • “Exhibits is a wonderful opportunity to inform the public about Sea and Sage Audubon, our passion for birds, and protecting the future of birds.” – Doug Lithgow.
  • Contact: Mary Joseph, Events Coordinator
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Create fun projects for children as part of our Camp Committee.

  • Volunteers work together with other educators to brainstorm new art projects and research lessons for camp youth ages 7 to 15. Volunteers also purchase supplies, assemble materials, and other preparation. Assisting during week-long Nature Day Camp in summer is recommended.
  • Event is monthly meetings from January to Assisting during camp is optional.
  • Contact Trude Hurd, Project Director of Education, at by January.

On-going Opportunities – Multiple Days

(training required)


Greet visitors at the Audubon House nature center and giftshop.  

  • Volunteers greet visitors, make sales, answer phones, distribute trail maps and other literature, and answer general questions about the wetland.
  • Shifts are 4-hours (8 AM- 12PM or 12 PM to 4 PM) on weekdays or weekends at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine. Shifts can a regular day and time (once a week or month) or occasional throughout the year.
  • Training (required) is on various dates during the year.
  • “I loved meeting visitors from all over the U.S. and pointing out to them the wide variety of birding at the Marsh and in Orange County. I loved watching great birders in action like Doug Willick. And it was fun to watch a dozen hummingbirds work the Mexican sage plant adjacent to the Audubon House.” – Steve Jelnick.
  • Contact Susan Sheakley, Audubon House Coordinators :
    Paula Monroe – or Dev Sellin –
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Share Nature with Elementary School children as an Outdoor Adventures Naturalist.

  • Volunteer Naturalists setup and teach a 2½ hour science program to 4-5th grade Santa Ana students at the wetland. Program consists of a bird walk around the ponds, observing live pond samples under microscopes, and examining adaptations of bird beaks.
  • Events are on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from October through May at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine.
  • Training (required) consists of 5 days taught by our Education Staff and continues with mentoring by experienced naturalists. Commitment is 2 tours per month. Retired educators and biologists are especially desired.
  • “My life has been enriched for nearly 20 years as I greet the school bus that brings children from our local Orange County schools to the beautiful wetland. The children’s eyes tell of their excitement to learn about and explore a brand-new environment for 3 full hours. So, who’s having more fun, the children or me?  You can probably guess!” – Carolyn Noble.
  • Contact Trude Hurd, Project Director of Education, at  

Share the Importance of Bats as a Bat Walk volunteer

  • Volunteers help set-up materials for the night’s program, greet participants, help keep participants safe during the night walk around the ponds, answer basic questions about bats, use sonar detectors, and point out bats and their behaviors.
  • Programs are on Friday and Saturday evenings from June to September at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine. Commitment is for several programs per season.
  • Training (required) is on a Friday night in May/June.
  • “I thought I knew quite a bit about bats before I became a volunteer, but what I have learned and am still learning from this program is invaluable. To be able to share this knowledge with Bat Walk participants can only create a better future for bats.” – Volunteer Laura Osteen.
  • Contact Trude Hurd at  
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Share Nature with the public as a Nature Walk Naturalist.

  • Volunteers work together to lead and assist monthly Nature Walks at an urban wetland. They share information and interactive activities about the wetland plants and animals during the 1 ½ hour walk around the ponds. Duties also include some setup of materials, collecting liability waivers, and distributing literature.
  • Event is the first Saturday morning of each month at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine. Regular attendance at a majority of events is expected for at least a year.
  • Training (required) is scheduled as needed, taught by our Project Director on 4 days, and includes a comprehensive naturalist manual. Training continues while mentoring with other naturalists during the events.
  • “As a Nature Walk volunteer you learn about the total habitat of a marsh (e.g., birds, plants, insects, fish and animals) and introduce visitors of all ages and backgrounds to the wonders of a marsh.  We are a supportive group of volunteers and gain insights from each other which thus makes our efforts more successful.” – Margaret Renton.
  • Contact Trude Hurd, Project Director of Education, at for next scheduled training dates.

Count Western Snowy Plovers during quarterly surveys on Orange County beaches.

  • Volunteers count Western Snowy Plovers four times a year at select beaches according to specific protocols.
  • Event is approximately 1½ hours done four times a year.
  • Training to be scheduled and includes learning specific protocols that must be followed during the surveys because this is a federally threatened species.
  • “The SNPL survey provides a special feeling for us. First, it feels good to be involved in something bigger than ourselves. Second, the gathering of data for this very cute endangered bird will be used to make important decisions how to further protect it.” – Ann Stanton and Steve Counts.
  • Contact the Volunteer Coordinator at

Protect California Least Terns and Western Snowy Plovers nesting in Huntington State Beach.

  • Volunteers interact with the public in a friendly way to educate them about endangered California Least Terns and threatened Western Snowy Plovers nesting on the sand. These birds need to be protected from loose dogs, predatory birds, and beach users. Volunteers bring their own chair and binoculars.
  • Program is a 2-hour shift once a week from April through July.
  • Training (required) to be arranged. Volunteers receive an instruction manual, parking pass to enter the state beach, and all information and materials.
  • “My husband Bob loved doing the Least Tern nesting project because he felt he was helping to protect the future of this species. Of course, he also liked the beach. He did the tern monitoring for many years.” – Grace McElhiney.
  • Contact the Volunteer Coordinator at

Bird Seasons Phenology Study at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Volunteer teams walk an established route to document behaviors of 8 species of birds at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary as part of a long-term study about seasonal changes. Behavioral observations include feeding, courtship, and territorial individual birds.
  • Each team of 2-3 volunteers conducts their survey once a month throughout the year.
  • Training can be scheduled for those interested in this behavioral study and are proficient at identifying the birds in Orange County.
  • “One of the things I enjoy about helping with the phenology research is being part of a project with a creative way of tracking bird behaviors and learning what changes are taking place over time. The satisfaction of helping advancing field research is exciting and rewarding.”
  • Contact Bettina Eastman, Bird Seasons Coordinator, at
Photographs by Trude Hurd ,Doug Lithgow and Dan Trinidad and used with permission.