Become a Docent
A docent is a person who acts as a guide or interpreter, typically on a voluntary basis, in a museum, art gallery, zoo or other natural area.
The Friends of the Elephant Seal needs your help… Do you enjoy being outdoors? Are you passionate about our promoting the environment and protecting wildlife? Do you love to learn and share your knowledge? Are you fascinated by elephant seals and marine life?
You can read more about the opportunities below. We are open to volunteers who live in the area full-time or for a few months each year and flexible in working with out of town residents who can commit to a once a month Central Coast weekend. If this sounds like you, please apply to join us as a docent or winter guide!
Docents are friendly, outgoing guides that work independently with visitors. As a docent, you will join a team of volunteers who share the fascinating life story of the northern elephant seal at the Piedras Blancas rookery with visitors from around the world.
Docent trainees are required to complete self- directed learning, virtual meetings, live training, as well as additional mentoring sessions. Docents also participate in continuing education and docent appreciation events. Docent newsletters and special programs help to keep docents informed about latest developments.
The Friends of the Elephant Seal is a cooperating association with California State Parks. Docents/guides are State Park volunteers. All volunteers meet enrollment requirements with California State Parks prior to their participation in training. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.
Docents commit to volunteering for four 3-hour shifts each month, (three shifts if you live more than 30 miles from San Simeon). Convenient online scheduling allows shifts to fit into volunteer’s personal schedules. With variable weather conditions at the rookery, docents are prepared for wind, rain or sun.
After completing training, docents are also invited to participate in other volunteer opportunities, such as serving as a Visitor Center Guide, providing outreach through the Speakers Bureau or collaborating with the Community Science team.
Docents receive the personal satisfaction of protecting the elephant seals by teaching respect for marine mammals and the ocean environment vital to their survival. To apply and receive more information about training use our online application above. We can be contacted at (805) 924-1628 or [email protected] should you have any questions.
Applications now open for the
Spring 2024 Docent Training Class
REQUIRES VIRTUAL MEETINGS (ZOOM) AND LIVE TRAINING
APPLICATION DEADLINE: February 19, 2024
Interviews individually scheduled
Required Online sessions (via Zoom):
Tuesday, March 12, 2024 5;00-7:00 PM
Tuesday, April 2, 2024 5;00-7:00 PM
Tuesday, April 16, 2024 5;00-7:00 PM
Required On-site training session
Saturday, April 27, 2024, 8:00 AM-3:00 PM
On-site mentoring sessions (3) arranged individually
between April 8- April 26, 2024
Each winter, a group of young male seals are driven off other beaches in the rookery by more dominant male seals. From mid-December to mid- March, many of these seals spend time on William R. Hearst Memorial Beach, a popular destination for both people and their dogs.
The exiled seals have often experienced violent and frightening incidents on the birthing and breeding beaches and seek safe refuge on this beach to rest undisturbed. Beach visitors often want to take photographs and venture too close to the resting seals, disturbing the seals and putting themselves in danger. Some seals show threatening and dominant behavior toward each other, a dangerous situation for humans and their pets who are in their paths.
Friends of the Elephant Seal (FES) offers a 3-month Winter program, in collaboration with California State Parks, to help beach visitors learn how to prevent disturbances and to promote human safety, while sharing the public beach with 3000 lb. elephant seals.
Winter Guides are needed daily, but especially Friday through Sunday and holidays, from mid-December to mid-March, to help guide visitors around the seals and share facts about their amazing lives. If you are looking for a weekend commitment, this is a good choice. Students and full-time employees find it possible to fit into their schedule. Guides must be friendly, outgoing, able to stand for 3 to 4 hours and walk on the beach in a variety of weather conditions.
Virtual and in-person training and on-site mentoring with experienced FES guides is required. Expect to spend two 4-hour shifts a month at San Simeon, from mid-December through mid-March. Volunteers must be age 18 or older and are asked to make a commitment for the entire winter season.
The Friends of the Elephant Seal is a cooperating association with California State Parks. Winter Guides are State Park volunteers. All volunteers meet enrollment requirements with California State Parks prior to their participation in training. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.