Inspire Passion for the Ocean

Thank you for your interest in volunteering at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. We are in the process of updating our aquarium-wide safety protocols, which means some current volunteer positions are subject to change. If you have any questions, please reach out to our Volunteer Program Manager, Nusrat Symons, at nsymons@ucsd.edu.

Traditionally, volunteers have helped visitors from around the world discover the wonders of our blue planet. Volunteers share Birch Aquarium’s mission, inspire conservation, and showcase the groundbreaking research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Annually, more than 400 volunteers guide visitors through exhibits, answer questions, and work behind the scenes. From students and working adults to retired professionals, Birch Aquarium has been enriched by the service and expertise from volunteers of all backgrounds.

All positions require attendance at a new applicant Open House which is offered quarterly. Volunteers are asked to make a minimum six month commitment of one 4 hour shift per week and to purchase an annual Volunteer Membership at $30 upon successful completion of the applicant interview. Volunteer member benefits include free unlimited admission for the volunteer, free aquarium passes annually, informative special lectures, and other discounts and exclusive opportunities. Applicants must be at least 16 to be considered for our program.

Current Volunteers

Volunteer Roles

Tide Pool Interpreter (year-round)

Help make our simulated tide pool plaza come alive for our visitors by demonstrating coping strategies for life in a harsh environment.

Greeter Volunteer (year-round)

Welcome visitors, provide an orientation to the facility, answer questions and distribute literature on aquarium programs.

School Programs Assistant (October through June)

Assist aquarium instructors in the classroom with hands-on curriculum covering a variety of marine topics including tide pools, fish diversity and kelp forests. Volunteers must first clear a background check to participate in this program.

Public Programs Assistant (year-round)

Assist instructors with onsite and offsite educational activities, including birthday parties, outreach classes and field programs.


Advanced Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers must start in another area first.

Aquarist Assistant (year-round)

Assist aquarists by cleaning and support various tasks maintaining tanks, monitoring water and air conditions, preparing food, and possibly feeding. Due to the responsibilities involved in helping our husbandry staff care for our animals, aquarist assistants must work a consistent 4-hour shift on a weekly basis.

Training:  Experience is a plus, though training is provided regardless of previous experience..

Volunteers only available on the weekends will have a longer wait than those available on the weekdays.

If you have questions, please contact the Birch Aquarium Volunteer Department via email or at 858-822-4934.