Volunteer Abroad Conservation Work in the USA

Preservation of California's Nature Reserves

Volunteering in California

This international volunteer project will give you a few weeks of excitement in California. You and other volunteers from around the world will play an active role in nature conservation in the western USA, living in the heart of California's breathtaking natural landscape. The downtime between projects will give you ample opportunity to enjoy the region’s breathtaking nature and the American Way of Life at your base between Boulder Creek and the Big Basin State Park. Your work on the project will take you to nature spots well away from the beaten path, giving you an insight into California which few will be able to match.

California is the state of superlatives: “Mount Whitney” (approx. 4420 m) is the highest mountain in the USA outside Alaska and is only 80 kilometers from “Death Valley”, the lowest point in the USA (85.5 m below sea level). California is renowned for its numerous national parks, beaches and sunny, warm weather. One of the most impressive sights is Yosemite National Park with its steep granite slopes, majestic waterfalls, mountain pastures, the legendary giant sequoias and rare animal species. To the east towers the Sierra Nevada, which extends over 500 kilometers southwards, and offers over 250 days sunshine per year. You will have the opportunity to discover the wonders of nature here during your voluntary service stay in California, at the same time contributing to their preservation.

Services Our Services at a Glance


  • Placement in the project
  • Accommodation during the project
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • All meals during the project – volunteers help to cook
  • Assistance with selecting travel insurance
  • Project-related transport
  • Assistance with booking flights
  • On-site orientation and project training
  • Pre-departure information pack
  • English-speaking support by long-term experienced staff
  • Airport pick up and drop off
  • 24/7 support throughout the project

Not included

  • Flights
  • ESTA fee/visa fee
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses and optional excursions

Boulder Creek

Start DateDurationCostNATUCATE-ID V.US-005
8 Weeks 1.800 €


To participate in voluntary service in California an application in the form of a cover letter will be required. If you are interested, we will send you the appropriate NATUCATE-form. In addition, all applicants must have a good knowledge of English. Work on the projects can be exceedingly demanding physically. Some of the project locations are only accessible after long treks and weather extremes can vary. In the summer months it is very hot in the desert and depending on the area, heavy snowfall may occur in the winter. This is why a doctor’s certificate, confirming your state of health and physical fitness, is required to complete your application.

Details Voluntary service in California

Volunteering in the Golden State

You arrive at San Francisco International Airport on a Saturday and will be picked up by our partner in the USA.

In this project you will have the chance to make a valuable contribution to nature conservation efforts on the West Coast of the USA. Over the course of your eight-week stay, you will be involved in different tasks in order to protect the California landscape, focusing on trail building and maintenance work. Moreover, building dry walls and fences, removing invasive plant species and erosion control belong to your volunteer tasks. You will not only acquire knowledge of several trail building techniques and become proficient with several hand tools, but you will also get to know the nature reserve of the Los Padres National Forest, well away from the beaten path. Your time as a volunteer in one of California’s impressive regions enables you to explore the Golden State in detail and, at the same time, to make a valuable contribution to conserving the state’s unique nature.

The work will follow an 8-6-8 rhythm: eight days in the volunteer project, then back to your base station for six days off. You can use this time to get to know the land and people of the United States. Then you will return to the project to work for another eight days.

Naturally these projects may be physically demanding and you may need to adapt to extreme weather conditions, but this is more than compensated for by working together in an international team in one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth.


Accommodation during the project

A volunteer accommodation between Boulder Creek and the Big Basin State Park, in the midst of California’s impressive Redwood forests, will be your base between projects. You will be accommodated in one of the volunteer houses in a shared room. This means that you can spend your free time with international volunteers from all over the world and get to know Santa Cruz and the surroundings together. On the days between projects the participants are responsible for feeding themselves and there is a kitchen for this in each house.

During the projects you will sometimes spend the nights on camp sites with sanitary facilities, sometimes in the wild. Meals are always prepared by the entire group.

Everybody interested in volunteering abroad should be able to adjust to entirely unfamiliar standards of living in their future host country. Therefore, we would like to point out the importance of being flexible and adaptable regarding the accommodation and sanitary facilities provided by the project. Those are very basic and – depending on the project – cannot be compared to European standards. The equipment and furnishings are limited to a minimum; air conditioning is not available. Depending on your host country occasional power blackouts or water outages are quite common. Please contact us if you have further questions about your accommodation. We are pleased to provide you with comprehensive information since we would like you to feel entirely prepared for your time abroad.

Leisure time

Leisure time

Between projects we would highly recommend that you explore the magnificent scenery in the area with other volunteers. There are plenty of opportunities for this: Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada or Death Valley. NATUCATE will gladly help you with your plans and we can give you valuable tips for an unforgettable journey through the western USA.


Project background

California is also known as the “fruit garden of America” due to its hot and sunny climate and the wide variety of fruit and vegetables which grow in the area. It is one of the most diverse states in the USA, particularly relative to its size. The California landscape includes mountain ranges like the Sierra Nevada, foggy coasts, scorching deserts like Death Valley, and the fertile Central Valley. California is a popular destination for daytrippers and tourists looking for adventure because of its geographical diversity and the resulting variety of animal and plant species. However, tourism and conservation frequently don’t see eye to eye. Because of this, the only way to keep the largely untouched natural landscape as it is is to regulate tourism and set up protected areas. Establishing hiking trails and fencing off conservation areas is some of the work which is necessary in this area.

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