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Volunteer Programs

San Diego Coastkeeperʼs range of volunteer programs reflect our belief that we all have the right to live in a clean, healthy environment, and we all have a responsibility to help keep it that way. An important part of our mission is providing a means through which community members like yourself can have a meaningful and effective impact on the health of San Diegoʼs fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters. We canʼt save San Diegoʼs coastal waters without you.

Water Quality Monitoring
Coastkeeperʼs Water Quality Monitoring Program creates a pathway for residents to learn the scientific tools they need to understand their local watersheds and directly influence local resource management. Teams of trained volunteers meet once a month to head to sites along nine of San Diegoʼs eleven watersheds and collect water samples that we analyze in our water quality laboratory. We use the data collected in these sessions as a powerful tool that fills the gaps created by limited governering agency resources and to track sources of pollution. New water quality monitor volunteers must attend a training session to get qualified to participate. For current and upcoming opportunities, visit our volunteer opportunities.

MPA Watch
After years of fighting for the implementation of marine protected areas along our beautiful San Diego coast, we continue building understanding of these important underwater parks through our MPA Watch Program, in partnership with Wildcoast. Through MPA Watch, volunteers take transect surveys and gather important human-use data that helps us understand how MPAs impact the way people interact with the ocean. Future studies will use these data to inform decisionmakers about the role of marine protected areas along the California coastline. Trained volunteers conduct surveys at any time of their choosing, which makes this uniquely flexible program a good fit for those with busy or irregular schedules. For current and upcoming opportunities, visit our volunteer opportunities. 

Volunteer Core
San Diego Coastkeeperʼs Volunteer Core is a select group of volunteers with a deep commitment to helping Coastkeeper protect and restore our fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters. We train core members in all of our volunteer programs, including Coastkeeperʼs history and mission. Typically, Core members create a custom volunteer plan that aligns with our organizational goals and the volunteerʼs strengths, commitment and abilities. Core members are our go-to people for running beach cleanups, leading as team captains, hosting outreach events and communicating our shared passion for healthy waters to their communities. Sign up for our email newsletter to learn about Volunteer Core trainings.

Beach Cleanups
We love to play on clean beaches, thatʼs why we host twice-monthly beach cleanups, offer cleanup kits for the public to borrow and participate in major events like California Coastal Cleanup Day. With our partners at Surfrider Foundation San Diego Chapter, we helped remove tens of tons of trash from San Diegoʼs beaches and waters. The best part? Beach cleanups are open and available to the public. They are a perfect way for individuals, families and groups to have an immediate and satisfying impact on their environment and a great excuse to get outside. To learn more about the different kinds of beach cleanups we offer, visit our Beach Cleanups page. Check out our events calendar for a complete list of this yearʼs cleanups.

Boat Captains
Boaters and San Diego Coastkeeper were meant for each other. From its inception in 1995, Coastkeeper has patrolled the waters we protect--it's part of our Waterkeeper Alliance charter. We rely on boat captains and skippers to keep Clean Sweep --that's our boat-- patrolling the waters so we can connect with other boaters about environmentally friendly boating practices. Keep in mind, to apply as a boat captain you will need to have a captainʼs license and/or 5+ years of boating experience. Write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. directly for more information.

Internships
San Diego Coastkeeper loves positive symbiotic relationships, and the partnership we have with our interns is among the best. They are where talented people can apply their strengths and skills in legislative work, marketing, education or event planning to meaningful environmental work. For full details on Coastkeeper internships, read our internship descriptions.

Community Service
Coastkeeper is happy to offer community service verification letters for volunteer work done under supervision of Coastkeeper staff or at Coastkeeper event. We cannot verify community service for unsupervised hours, such as time spent conducting your own beach cleanup using our Beach Cleanup in a Box kit. Please write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions.

Slideshow photo credits include Surfrider. 

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Donate to San Diego Coastkeeper

With you, we can protect San Diego’s aquatic playgrounds. Gifts of every size help us defend your salty seas and beautiful bays. From test tubes in our lab to hands-on...

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Preventable Facts

  • Many California cities spend almost 500 million dollars annually cleaning up litter and preventing trash for entering waterways.
  • The average American uses 350-700 plastic bags a year, and only about 3% get recycled. By vowing to stop using plastic bags, YOU can keep hundreds of them out of landfills and our water each year.
  • Statewide, about 6.1 million gallons of used oil per year flow into our stormdrains, which then flows into our ocean.
  • A 1-inch rainstorm on a 1-acre natural meadow would typically produce enough runoff to fill a standard office 2 feet deep. That storm over a 1-acre paved lot would produce nearly 16 times more runoff--enough to fill 3 offices completely.
  • Increased volume and velocity of stormwater and pollutants in urban runoff can result in: decrease in habitat and aquatic biological diversity, increased flooding, increased erosion, and affects our health, economy, and livelihood.
  • Roads, freeways, sidewalks, buildings, parking lots, airports, industrial sites and other man-made surfaces increase urban runoff.
  • The stormwater problem has two main components: the increased volume and velocity of surface runoff and the concentration of pollutants in it. Both are directly related to development in urban and urbanizing areas.
  • Harmful pesticides found in urban runoff, such as chloropyrifos, 2,4-D, and diazinon come from golf courses, municipal parks, highway medians and roadsides, and residential lawns and gardens.
  • The percentage of pesticide lost in runoff can be large; one study found up to 90 percent of the herbicide 2,4-D (a major component of agent orange) was lost in runoff after being applied a few hours before a storm event.
  • Statewide, about 6.1 million gallons of used oil flow into our storm drains per year
  • A quart of oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water and one pint of oil can make an acre-sized oil slick.
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SAN DIEGO COASTKEEPER
2825 Dewey Rd., Ste. 200 • San Diego CA 92106 • TEL. 619.758.7743