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Environmental Sustainability Volunteer Project in San Diego - USA

Apply now. The next available start date for this project is Jul 12, 2021

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 the native plant and animal population. This paired with an increase in air pollution and rising sea levels are threatening the city’s existence going forward. The Environmental Sustainability project takes a multi-faceted approach to combating these issues by focusing on long term, sustainable initiatives to protect the delicate ecosystems that are being threatened.

Environmental Sustainability San Diego with IVHQ

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, promoting the viable use of green spaces, assist with nature conservation efforts such as the removal of invasive species, and environmental education within the community via outreach programming, which in turn will help to make the city a healthier, safer and environmentally sustainable place for those who reside there.

If you like getting your hands dirty, working in nature and are passionate about environmental sustainability efforts then this is the project for you!

Why volunteer in San Diego?

As the birthplace of California, San Diego boasts a fusion of cultures, rich history, delicious food, unique neighborhoods, sweeping coastal views, surf beaches and year-round sunshine. Sadly, this city is beginning to feel the effects of global warming with rising sea levels, an increase in wildfires, storms and heatwaves and reduced populations of native plant and animal species. Volunteering on our Environmental Sustainability program helps combat these issues by conserving biodiversity and the shoreline, while enabling you to soak up San Diego’s sights like a local.

Volunteering in San Diego with IVHQ

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Project Highlights
What you need to know
  • Affordable fees from $605 for 1 week
  • Help on a range of environmental initiatives in a hands-on way

  • Assist with improving green spaces, removing invasive species, recycling and community education programs

  • Suited to nature-loving volunteers with a flexible approach to helping where it’s most needed

  • Volunteer for up to 5 hours per day

Destination Highlights
United States at a glance
  • Based in San Diego, California

  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, breakfasts and 24/7 in-country support

  • Accommodation in a dormitory-style hostel

  • Up to 10 volunteers start in San Diego each month

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.

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! Pair that with thriving arts & culture, and 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 visit to the House of Blues, the San Diego Air and Space Museum, or some whale watching out on the Pacific Ocean!

Volunteer programs begin every Monday. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks.

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.

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 8am to 8pm on Sunday, and volunteers must arrive during this period. If you can only arrive after 8pm, 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 8am and 8pm. 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.

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. A typical volunteer day ranges 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. Please note, start times and daily workload depend on your specific project.

12:00 - 1:00 PM: Lunch break. In San Diego, a lunch break typically lasts for about an hour, but the timing and length will ultimately depend on the organization that you’re volunteering with.

1:00 - 5:00 PM: Work at the project typically ends between these times, but this will depend on your project. Use your free time to either travel back home, sightsee or do some shopping.

Evenings: Free to use as you wish. Most volunteers head out together to get dinner and enjoy the city.

Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory-style 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 4 other travelers. 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. Cleaning 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 an ocean bounty, you’ll be able to treat yourself to many delicious meals during your stay.

Volunteers are provided with a self-serve breakfast at the hostel each day which is available between 8am and 10am. You can expect to choose from bagels, cream cheese, jams, granola bars and 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 $605 Equivalent to $87/day
2 weeks $1,015 Equivalent to $73/day
3 weeks $1,330 Equivalent to $64/day
4 weeks $1,675 Equivalent to $60/day
5 weeks $1,975 Equivalent to $57/day
6 weeks $2,290 Equivalent to $55/day
8 weeks $2,830 Equivalent to $51/day
10 weeks $3,415 Equivalent to $49/day
12 weeks $3,955 Equivalent to $48/day
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast only.
  • 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 $299 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • 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.

You’ll be able to use your weekends and free time to truly explore everything that San Diego has to offer and there is truly no shortage of exciting things to see and do.

With 70 miles of coastline and beaches on offer in San Diego, this destination is an ocean lovers dream. Take time for a snorkeling adventure at La Jolla Cove, head on a whale watching trip or you can even try your hand at surfing at spots like La Jolla, Point Loma and Coronado Beach.

The city also boasts a lively nightlife, delicious food, and vibrant art 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.

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).

Volunteers need to be 16 years or over to participate independently on this program, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. If you are 16 or 17 and wish to volunteer independently on this program, you will be required to submit written parental consent from your parents to confirm your participation.

All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a recent criminal background check to IVHQ after registering on the program.

Can a foreigner volunteer in the USA? Yes, IVHQ’s volunteer program in San Diego is the perfect opportunity for both travelers from outside the USA as well as Americans who are looking for a meaningful opportunity to volunteer outside their hometown. All you need is the willingness to positively support communities in San Diego, to work with like minded people and a desire to provide help where it’s needed.

Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.

If you’re looking for group volunteer opportunities in the United States, this program is perfect for large groups of college students, high school students, corporate teams and families. Whether you’re looking to organize an alternative break trip, team building exercise, or meaningful volunteer vacation, our local team in San Diego are highly experienced in proving impactful volunteer opportunities for large groups.

We’ll work closely with you to understand the goals of your group, so you can leave the planning to us. We can create a customized itinerary to provide your team members with a well-organized schedule so you can make the most of your time in New Orleans, while making a positive contribution to the local community.

If you’re volunteering with 8 or more people, you can connect directly with our Volunteer Groups team to share your ideas with us.

If your group has less than 8 members, you can go ahead and apply for the program and you’ll be prompted to add your team members in the application process – this will ensure we can accommodate you together.

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!