Volunteer in the Sanctuaries

Top 10 Volunteer Activities

For the second year in a row a National Marine Sanctuary volunteer program was named the Take Pride in America Federal Volunteer program. Find out more about these amazing volunteers and the sanctuary projects they donate their time to.

Volunteers help to ensure marine sanctuaries remain America's underwater treasures for future generations. Through their efforts, volunteers contribute over 140,000 hours of annual service to the sanctuaries in areas of research, monitoring, enforcement, education and outreach, and management advisory.

Examples include Beach Watch at Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, which trains volunteers to monitor the sanctuary’s health by surveying California beaches for dead animals and traces of oil. Channel Islands Naturalist Corps volunteers at California's Channel Islands sanctuary teach about the site’s unique ecosystem at community events, whale watching tours, and free lectures. Some 3,000 miles away, members of Team O.C.E.A.N in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary patrol sanctuary waters to provide boaters with valuable navigational information and report illegal activity to sanctuary law enforcement officers. Volunteers even represent their communities on management issues by filling seats on sanctuary advisory councils, a body that provides management recommendations to the sanctuary superintendent.

Collectively, volunteers invest enormous amounts of time toward the healthy future of our nation’s marine sanctuaries. 

Field Site Volunteer Opportunities

Pacific Islands Region
American Samoa
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

West Coast Region
Channel Islands
Cordell Bank
Gulf of the Farallones
Monterey Bay
Olympic Coast

Southeast Region
Florida Keys
Flower Garden Banks
Gray’s Reef

Northeast Region
Stellwagen Bank
Thunder Bay

Volunteer at NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Headquarters

internships banner

What We Offer

We invite you to join a dedicated and enthusiastic team at the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, where you will gain valuable resume-building experience and an insider's perspective from the nation's leader in ocean conservation and management. As a volunteer intern, you will work on a variety of projects tailored to meet your capacity, availability and interests. We are based in Silver Spring, MD and easily accessible on Washington DC’s metro system.  As a volunteer in our offices, you'll be encouraged to attend marine conservation events, lectures, conferences and receptions that provide fantastic networking opportunities for your career development. 

ONMS cooperates with institutions of higher learning and internship coordination programs to ensure students receive credit for their volunteer hours.  We can arrange positions for part-time and full-time availability; while the duration of volunteer internships can vary, most typically last at least 8 weeks.  As these are volunteer positions, stipends are currently unavailable.


Volunteer internships are open to all individuals over the age of 15.  The NOAA Office of Security requires a background check which will begin at the start of your volunteer experience. 

Notice for non-US citizens: You must hold an appropriate visa and be accepted as a volunteer intern at least 45 days prior to the scheduled start date to complete additional security clearance. 

If you have questions regarding eligibility contact Cirse.Gonzalez@noaa.gov.

How to Apply

To apply for a volunteer internship with ONMS, please review the available positions descriptions below and send the following materials to the point of contact listed:

  • Cover letter
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  • Writing sample

Available Positions

Legislative and Constituent Affairs Volunteer Internship

Media Relations Volunteer Internship

Videography Volunteer Internship

Graphic Design Volunteer Internship

Sanctuary Socioeconomics Voluteer Internship

Strategic Partnerships Outreach Volunteer Internship(s)

. . . . . . . . . .

Legislative and Constituent Affairs Volunteer Internship
ONMS faces the challenges of supporting Congress' reauthorization of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and the President's budget request while keeping pace with Congress and our constituents in messaging on hot marine conservation issues such as climate change, marine spatial planning and resource conservation. We are looking for motivated self-starters who enjoy both independent and collaborative work. The ideal candidate for this volunteer internship will possess a strong academic background and the desire to immerse him or herself in the world of marine communications and the internal workings of a federal office.

Media Relations Volunteer Internship
The Communications Team produces and distributes Office of National Marine Sanctuaries messages through a variety of channels to a diverse audience - Capitol Hill legislators and staff, agency departments, news media and the public. The volunteer intern will have the opportunity to participate in staff meetings; fine-tune writing, editing and proofreading skills; develop targeted media lists and media kits; learn media outreach strategies; contribute to our social media efforts; and attend special events. Strong research and writing skills are a must, along with knowledge of social media trends and best practices.

Videography Volunteer Internship
The Education and Outreach Division produces and distributes messages and materials for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) in print, online, and through video. Volunteer interns for this division might have the opportunity to create original work, collaborate on existing projects, fine-tune writing and editing skills, learn outreach strategies, contribute to our social media efforts, practice graphic layout and design, and attend special events. Prospective volunteers should expect to work 15-32 hours per week at the ONMS Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD.

Graphic Design Volunteer Internship
NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, which manages America's underwater treasures, needs help to fulfill our graphic and creative design efforts. We are seeking a talented volunteer with a passion for the design profession, understanding of how to work within brand guidelines and the ability to take direction. The ideal candidate must be detail oriented, organized, creative, efficient and fast, and have great communication skills. The candidate can work from home, but must live in the Pittsburgh area and be available to meet in Bridgeville, PA weekly to touch base and collaborate on jobs/tasks with the lead ONMS Graphic Designer/Illustrator.

Sanctuary Socioeconomics Volunteer Internship
The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) develops and implements socioeconomic research and monitoring to support assessments of management strategies and regulations affecting various stakeholder user groups. ONMS is seeking an economics or social science student to provide socioeconomic research support to the chief economist.

As part of a comprehensive science team, your responsibilities will include:

  • supporting the socioeconomic and policy requirements of ONMS
  • supporting socioeconomic activities throughout the NMS system
  • assisting in the design and implementation of socioeconomic related planning/decision-making processes to support management plan review and new site designation for National Marine Sanctuaries
  • assisting in the design and implementation of socioeconomic data collection surveys for NMSP sites

We are currently involved in several projects and will work with you to create an experience that best matches your interests and skills. Volunteer interns can choose between a broad experience or a more focused experience on one project. Some project possibilities are:

  • analysis of the economic impact of commercial fishing in National Marine Sanctuaries in California and Washington
  • assessing the impact of potential marine protected areas on 'for hire' diving and fishing operations in the Gulf of Mexico
  • socioeconomic assessment of tourism in American Samoa.
  • estimating the economic value of Puerto Rico's coral reef ecosystems for the recreation-tourism ecosystem service
  • assist in the development of socioeconomic characterizations of National Marine Sanctuaries

Strategic Partnerships Outreach Volunteer Internship(s)
Starting in the fall term of 2015, we are seeking volunteer graduate students in MBA programs with an emphasis on sustainability and in MFA programs with an emphasis on creative writing to help us identify our stories and then find new, meaningful ways to tell those stories in formats and lexicons meaningful to different, untraditional audiences.

leaving site indicates a link leaves the site. Please view our Link Disclaimer for more information.
Revised June 24, 2015 by Sanctuaries Web Team | Contact Us | Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service
National Ocean Service | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Privacy Policy | For Employees | User Survey