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Environmental Sustainability Volunteer Project in the USA - San Diego

Environmental Sustainability Volunteer Project in the USA - San Diego

Apply now. The next available start date for this project is Nov 8, 2021

Enjoy being in nature and want to be an Environmental Sustainability volunteer in the USA - San Diego? International Volunteer HQ’s Environmental Sustainability empowers volunteers to make an impact on the environment of San Diego. The city is beginning to feel the effects of global warming with rising sea levels, more wildfires, storms and heatwaves and fewer native plant and animal species. Volunteers gain sustainability and environmental conservation experience while helping to combat these issues by protecting biodiversity and the shoreline and helping make sure San Diego is prepared for the future.

  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from CA$788 for 1 week
  • Includes accommodation, daily breakfast, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Assist with improving green spaces, removing invasive species, recycling and community education program

  • Enjoy sunny California and its gorgeous beaches

  • Stay in the middle of San Diego near must-see tourist attractions

Apply Now

Who is this program suited to?

Volunteers who like getting their hands dirty, working in nature and are passionate about environmental sustainability efforts.
Who is this program suited to?

Key information

Teach communities how to live sustainably
Based with local initiatives
Dormitory-style hostel
Volunteers aged 16+ and families
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day
Fully hosted experience from CA$788 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 12 weeks
Enjoy California's 'city of beaches'

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

In the past decade, climate change has had a severe impact on San Diego, bringing with it prolonged heat waves and natural disasters that are devastating to the native plant and animal population.This, paired with an increase in air pollution and rising sea levels, is threatening the city’s existence going forward. Volunteers work with local community initiatives that aim to future-proof the city’s natural environment, protect delicate ecosystems that are being threatened and increase overall sustainability so the city is a healthier, safer place to live.

Volunteers on this project can expect to work with sustainable community partners to:

  • Plant trees and other plant species to mitigate the erosion of the shoreline
  • Maintain the coastal ecosystems through beach cleanups
  • Promote the use of green spaces
  • Assist with nature conservation efforts such as the removal of invasive species
  • Environmental education within the community via outreach programming
Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Cities account for approximately 70% of global carbon emissions and over 60% of resource use, with low-socioeconomic areas hit hardest by overburdened infrastructure and worsening pollution. Cities must evolve to provide better access to basic services for all, including housing, transportation and clean air.

Why do Environmental Sustainability volunteering in San Diego with IVHQ?

When you volunteer to help make San Diego a more sustainable city you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Contributing to conservation and sustainability efforts
  • Supporting local initiatives to help their communities
  • Educating locals about sustainable living and its importance
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining a wide range of volunteer experience
  • Exploring San Diego and California

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
  • Volunteers aged 16-18 are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team
  • All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.

”We had an incredible trip! The local team that IVHQ partnered us with was amazing! Our local coordinator did an outstanding job! We felt fulfilled by giving back to the greater San Diego community. The service impacted our group as well, we had incredible debriefs each night to reflect. Thank you. This was a great trip and we couldn't have had a trip like this without your help. ”

Read reviews from Environmental Sustainability volunteers in San Diego

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Volunteer Abroad in the USA, San Diego with IVHQ


The IVHQ USA - San Diego volunteer program has volunteer placements in neighborhoods throughout the coastal city of San Diego, located on the Pacific Coast of California.

Known as ‘California’s beach city’ with near perfect weather year round and 70 miles of spectacular coastline, you’ll discover some of the most picturesque views the west coast has to offer, along with a thriving arts and culture scene and a strong sense of community. You’ll gain an authentic insight into San Diego by working alongside local people and supporting community-driven projects. Make sure you don’t leave without a surf lesson, a visit to the House of Blues, the San Diego Air and Space Museum, or some whale watching out on the Pacific Ocean.

Whether you are looking for short term volunteer opportunities, or longer volunteer vacations in the USA, the IVHQ San Diego volunteer program can support you to make a positive difference while experiencing everything that this iconic city has to offer.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins every Monday. Volunteers need to arrive in San Diego on the Sunday before orientation day.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at San Diego International Airport (SAN). You’ll be greeted at the airport by a representative of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee if you arrive on the Sunday before your program start date. Pick-ups are made between 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM on Sunday, and volunteers must arrive during this period. If you can only arrive after 8:00 PM, you will need to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

If you are traveling in San Diego prior to your volunteer program, our local team can arrange for you to be picked up in the San Diego CBD area on Sunday between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM. Alternatively, you can choose to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

Orientation is hosted by our San Diego team at the volunteer accommodation. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and runs all day. It covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in San Diego. It includes an introduction to San Diego, reflection on the importance of volunteering, code of conduct and expectations, transportation and safety instructions, and an overview of the week. Volunteers travel to the volunteer project sites and take a brief tour of the surrounding area. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

Your first day of volunteering in the USA is taken up by a program orientation, which includes a visit to your project placement to meet the staff you’ll be working with. From there, you’ll start your volunteer work.


Volunteer schedules are varied based on the organization you’re placed with and the time of year. Usually volunteer days range from 3-5 hours. A typical volunteer day may look like:

7:30 AM Self-serve breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8:00 - 9:00 AM Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project.
12:00 - 1:00 PM Lunch break.
1:00 - 5:00 PM Work at the project typically ends between these times. Use your free time to either travel back home, sightsee or do some shopping. In the evenings you are free to use as you wish. Most volunteers head out together to get dinner and enjoy the city.


With 70 miles of coastline and beaches on offer in San Diego, this destination is an ocean-lover’s dream. Take time for a snorkeling adventure at La Jolla Cove, head on a whale watching trip or even hit the waves at surfing at spots like Point Loma and Coronado Beach.

The city also boasts a lively nightlife, delicious food, and a vibrant arts scene so there is something for everyone. You can head off to explore the city and its history by visiting spots including; Sunset cliffs, Balboa Park, the House of Blues, La Jolla Playhouse Theatre, San Diego Air and Space Museum, USS Midway Museum and the great San Diego Symphony.

Slightly further afield, you can head over to Tijuana, Mexico for an exciting long weekend.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory-style public hostel in the heart of downtown San Diego, mere steps away from San Diego’s Bayfront Park as well as some of the city’s hottest spots including restaurants, bars and shops.

You should expect basic dormitory style accommodation. Rooms are mixed gender and you could share a room with up to 16 other 116,000. Bedrooms are comprised of bunk beds with bedding provided but you will need to bring your own towel.

The accommodation has shared bathroom facilities equipped with western toilets and showers. Staff clean the accommodation throughout the week. However, volunteers are required to do their own dishes and to keep their rooms tidy.

The accommodation has a fully equipped kitchen, reading/computer room, common area, and a TV. There are a variety of restaurants, bars, cafes, supermarkets, and pharmacies in close proximity to the accommodation, not to mention most tourist sites being within short walking distance.

The accommodation is equipped with WiFi for you to use and a free house phone for calls within the US and Canada. You can also purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked mobile phone to access the internet and make calls further afield.

Single-sex dorms or private rooms, if desired, can be booked after you have registered for the program, subject to availability and an additional cost.


San Diego boasts a diverse food scene with influences from its ethnic and cultural mix as well as its proximity to the coast. Whether it’s a Mexican feast or ocean bounty, you’ll be able to treat yourself to many delicious meals during your stay.

Volunteers are provided with breakfast foods delivered to the hostel. Volunteers will be able to choose from foods including cereal, granola, toast, eggs, fresh fruit.

Volunteers are responsible for their own lunches and dinners, but with no shortage of delicious food options in the city, you’re sure to find a wide range of food, specific to your personal taste. You may also prepare your own meals using the fully equipped kitchen available at the hostel.

Volunteers are expected to do their own dishes after each meal so please be prepared and willing to do this.


Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
1 week CA$786 Equivalent to CA$113/day
2 weeks CA$1319 Equivalent to CA$95/day
3 weeks CA$1729 Equivalent to CA$83/day
4 weeks CA$2178 Equivalent to CA$78/day
5 weeks CA$2568 Equivalent to CA$74/day
6 weeks CA$2977 Equivalent to CA$71/day
8 weeks CA$3680 Equivalent to CA$66/day
10 weeks CA$4440 Equivalent to CA$64/day
12 weeks CA$5143 Equivalent to CA$62/day
  • Accommodation
  • Daily breakfast
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteering

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of CA$389 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in CAD.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, some meals, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in San Diego generally find US$200 - US$300 per week to be sufficient for expenses, such as lunches and dinners, and local tours and activities.

Check what's required to visit United States

Fill out the quick form below to find out what the Covid-19 restrictions and visa requirements are for United States, based on your country of residence.

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Safety and support with IVHQ

Protecting against COVID-19:

Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel

Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel

Health & safety information provided during orientation

Health & safety information provided during orientation

Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation

Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation

Greater physical distance between volunteers

Greater physical distance between volunteers

Essential city information

City San Diego
Population 1.43 Million
Languages English
Currency United States Dollar (USD)
Time zone GMT-07:00 Pacific Standard Time

Weather and climate

San Diego’s west coast location means that the climate is warm year round, with short, mild winters and hot, humid summers. August is the hottest month in San Diego with an average temperature of 77°C (12°F) and the coldest is December, with an average temperature of 65°C (18°F) with the most daily sunshine hours at 12 in June. The wettest month is February with an average of 58mm of rain. The best month to swim in the ocean is August when the average sea temperature is 70°F (21°F).

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