The holiday season is upon us! The winter chill is finally settling in and hopefully it will bring some much-needed rain and snow. Now is the time we give thanks for our family, friends, and community – and many local residents want to give back. We all live around the bay, but how often do we get a chance give back to it?
Here’s a list of some volunteer opportunities I know throughout the Bay Area. By donating a little of your time, you can make a big difference in both the health of our local environment and build a stronger community in the spirit of the season.
Since 1972, this nonprofit has provided training to volunteers about the importance of Bay Area ecosystems. Why not learn more about your natural environment while helping to bring the bay to local classrooms, or by taking kids on educational nature walks in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties?
Audubon Canyon Ranch
Headquartered in a beautiful canyon next to the Bolinas Lagoon, this organization offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, including participating in bird surveys, planting native plants, and even docent training.
Marine Mammal Center
You love marine mammals, look no further. You can get up close and personal by rescuing stranded animals and providing them care, or support educational and administrative programs in Sausalito. They offer special programs for youth (ages 15-18).
Golden Gate Audubon Society
If birds are what you’re interested in, the popular Golden Gate Audubon Society has restoration projects throughout the bay area focusing on restoring habitat for resident and migrating birds. As a special holiday bonus join the thousands of citizen scientists taking part in the National Audubon Society’s Annual Christmas bird count!
Friends of Sausal Creek
This community association is a great example of people can come together to help better this riparian area and recreation zone in their own backyard. Come volunteer with Friends of Sausal Creek and get inspired to organize a group to help protect and restore a resource in your own neighborhood!
Literacy For Environmental Justice
Serving San Francisco’s Bayview Hunter’s Point neighborhood, this group works with local youth to create a more healthy and sustainable community helping clean polluted areas and providing healthy food access to low income residents. You can volunteer at their native plant nursery and community garden in Candlestick Point or for a restoration project near Yosemite Slough.
Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley
Learn about the wildlife living right in your own backyard, from hawks and deer to even coyotes and bobcats. This organization takes in ill and injured wildlife from all around the South Bay and provides an opportunity for the public to help in many different ways, like caring from sick animals at their rehabilitation center in San Jose or writing for their newsletter.
Point Blue Conservation Science
Formerly known as the Point Reyes Bird Observatory, this well respected organization supports research and community involvement in learning how local ecosystems will be impacted by climate change. Most volunteer opportunities are in the North Bay, and include shorebird surveys, education programs, working in their lab, or even contribute just by having fun on their iNaturalist app.
Of course, Save The Bay’s own Restoration Team has entered planting season, so be sure to come on down to the shoreline and help us plant the over 40,000 seedlings our volunteers worked so hard to propagate.
We are blessed in the Bay Area to have a strong legacy of environmental stewardship represented by countless organizations and groups working to make our home a better place to live in.
So give back and learn something new this holiday season!
The organizations I listed above are just a few examples and I encourage everyone to search out your local groups that are organizing their communities to protect and restore our bay.
Do you know any other organizations? Post them in the comments below.