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Earth Day beach clean-up at San Juan National Historic Site, Puerto Rico. NPS photo

Ocean parks are more than just places to soak up the sun—how about working up a sweat volunteering to preserve your favorite park? With some of the most beautiful landscapes on the coast—above or below water—the national parks are the most awesome and inspiring places to make a difference. The organizations listed below offer volunteer projects lasting from a day to a few weeks to several months.

Search for volunteer opportunities at specific parks or learn about other ways to get involved in the national parks. For a wide variety of volunteer opportunities across the country, visit or

Many organizations have agreements with the National Park Service to offer volunteer and internship positions geared especially for youth. A sampling of these organizations that work with ocean parks is listed below.

  • Greening Youth Foundation (GYF) is a Georgia-based 501c(3) non-profit organization with a mission to engage underserved youth and young adults while connecting them to the outdoors and careers in conservation. The foundation entered into a partnership with the Department of the Interior, which includes the National Park Service, in 2009. The foundation is the only African-American-led organization in the United States to sign such an agreement with the National Park Service. One of the core objectives is to develop a program in cultural and natural resource conservation, incorporating a variety of service and internship projects such as trail development and maintenance, minor construction work, archeological conservation, and native plant habitat restoration. To date, the organization has employed diverse young adults to work at more than 30 national parks.
  • Groundwork USA represents a growing national network of non-profits working to transform community liabilities into quality neighborhood assets. Established through partnership between two federal agencies, Groundwork Trusts work on the ground in distressed neighborhoods to achieve the mission and goals of the NPS Rivers and Trails Conservation and Assistance Program and the EPA Brownfields and Urban Waters Programs. Participants have completed a number of projects. In Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area: Groundwork Somerville, youth removed invasive multi-flora rose and bittersweet and continued work on a major project to remove water chestnuts from the Mystic River while learning about water quality testing and run-off and storm water management. In Santa Cruz Island–Channel Islands National Park: Groundwork San Diego, the team worked alongside field biologists to support wetland restoration projects and monitor the disturbed wetland ecosystem. They also assisted scientists in mapping, tagging, and measuring invasive eucalyptus trees as a part of the island's restoration management plan. In Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: Groundwork Gary, 17 green team members removed acres of brush and invasive species, tracked and identified the source of litter on beaches, and provided maintenance support on a wide range of projects. Participants learned about job opportunities within the National Park Service, received financial literacy training on their first payday, and toured Lake Michigan with an NPS educator.
  • The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is a national leader in youth service and stewardship, offering a variety of marine and coastal internships among other disciplines. Protect endangered sea turtles along the Gulf of Mexico, cultivate kelp forests off the Channel Islands, monitor ground nesting shorebirds on Cape Cod—even map an underwater shipwreck trail in the Florida Keys. Help to preserve fragile marine life and ecosystems while gaining valuable career experience. All SCA internships are expense-paid, available throughout the year, and run from three to 12 months in length.
  • Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB) develops youth and conserves natural resources for a sustainable community. The organization has an existing partnership with Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Corpsmembers from at-risk urban backgrounds obtain job skills, meet education goals, and gain an appreciation for the great outdoors while completing projects in these parks.
  • The LA Conservation Corps provides at-risk young adults and school-aged youth with opportunities for success by providing them with job skills training, education, and work experience with an emphasis on conservation and service projects that benefit the community. Since the LA Conservation Corps' inception over 25 years ago, crews have built and maintained trails, removed invasive vegetation, reduced fire fuel loads, performed post-fire clean-up and rehabilitation, helped maintain park facilities, and assisted ecologists and biologists in habitat restoration and monitoring. Currently the LA Corps, in partnership with the National Park Service and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, has two fire crews working at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
  • The Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) is a job training program for 18–25-year-old youth across Washington State. The WCC is involved in the Elwah Dam removal restoration effort. The crews assist with greenhouse activities for the propagation of native plants, planting of natives on the newly dewatered reservoir, access trail construction, invasive species control, and movement of large woody debris from the old shoreline across the reservoir to create "micro-habitats." The removal of the dams returns hundreds of miles of spawning habitat for endangered Pacific salmon and the release of the trapped sediments will return the estuary to a natural state, providing eelgrass habitat and nursery area.

Last Updated: January 03, 2017