State parks in and near Half Moon Bay have many opportunities for volunteering. Some, such as the Native Plant Nursery and the Environmental Restoration programs have their own web pages; please be sure to check them out. 

Local experts teach classes on a variety of subjects including marine mammals, the history of the Pigeon Point Light Station, Pescadero Marsh habitat, Ohlone Indians, birds and terrestrial animals, geology, and more. Training is also provided on interpretation techniques for educating visitors. Opportunities exist for volunteers to become school group docents, snowy plover docents, operate the visitor center, or work in the native plant nursery.  Parks include Half Moon Bay State Beaches, Pescadero Marsh, McNee Ranch and Burleigh Murray State Park.

For more information please contact the volunteer coordinator at 1-650-726-8814 or email


Trained docents help identify, count and protect the endangered Snowy Plovers on coastside beaches
(Photo: © A. Boutell)
Snowy Plover Watch Program

The Half Moon Bay SB office is the center of the coastside-wide Snowy Plover Watch program.  This endangered, six-inch bird feeds and nests on the beach above the high-water mark.  Often they use depressions in the sand, such as footprints, where they are camouflaged and out of the wind.

Volunteers, identified by maroon jackets and caps, are on the beaches year-round to count plovers and record the identifying bands on their legs.  The volunteers spot nests and help to educate the public about the snowy plover.


(Photo: courtesy CA State Parks)
Interpreting to School Groups

Working with school groups and the youngsters in the community is a high priority for State Parks.  School field trips come to the park and beaches to visit the ecosystems they learn about in the classroom. Coastal state parks in San Mateo County offer an exciting variety of wild places, native plants and migrant and indigenous animals.

Volunteers who like working with children can assist in leading walks, visiting the classroom or with field trips.


(Photo: CSPA archive)
Scheduled Guided Walks

Guided walks at Burleigh Murray Ranch, Gray Whale Cove Trail on McNee Ranch and Pescadero Marsh are offered monthly.  Volunteers are trained in the cultural and natural history of the parks as well as interpretation techniques to be able to share these properties with both locals and visitors to the area. 

Maybe you have a favorite park or beach that you would like to share with visitors.



(Photo: CSPA archive)
Staffing the Park Store

The park store at Half Moon Bay State Beach is staffed by volunteers and it is the first interpretive contact with the visiting public. You can set the stage for what they will see and do on their journey through the park.  With the store open, visitors can also pick up a souvenir of their visit.

Proceeds from the store's sales supports training all of the volunteers and docents as well as many projects and programs such as the Campfire Program, Junior Rangers and Junior Lifeguards..

Volunteers at large

Special events such as Music in the Park and the annual Coastal Wildflower Day festival, always need volunteers to staff tables and booths and to help set up and tear down the festival site.

There is also a need for volunteers to keep trails clear and accessible, and carpentry skils can always be put to good use.