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Youth Crew

Join a global community dedicated to ocean conservation 

Support the rehabilitation of marine mammals 

Learn from professionals in marine and veterinary sciences 

Inspire the next generation of ocean stewards  

Youth Crew is an annual service-learning program for teens aged 15-18 to become animal care and education volunteers at The Marine Mammal Center’s main facility near Sausalito California. Recruitment and application to the program takes place annually in the fall and the program runs from January through August each year.

Program Overview

Youth Crew is an annual service-learning program at The Marine Mammal Center for high school aged students in the greater Bay Area. To participate in the program teens, apply online and interview in the fall, selected applicants are inducted into the program in January. The program commitment runs from January through August, in which a youth volunteer accumulates on average 120 hours of volunteer service in animal care and education. 

Youth Crew volunteers first receive training to join an animal care crew during the Center’s busy season from January through May. During this time Youth Crew volunteers will assist and participate in animal husbandry tasks such as washing equipment, sorting fish, cleaning animal pens/pools, weighing animals, scribing observations, managing animals in pens and more as training permits. From June through August Youth Crew volunteers receive training to become youth counselors or youth interpreters for education programs at The Marine Mammal Center. Education volunteers may support our camp experiences for elementary students, or engage our visiting public on ocean conservation issues such as marine debris and climate change. The combined volunteer experiences will see participants through the work of rehabilitating marine mammals, engaging guests, and inspiring the next generation of ocean stewards. 

Throughout the program, we apply best practices in service-learning to support the development of every program participant toward their full potential. Youth Crew participants who gain the most form the program are present for all scheduled shifts, attend trainings, participate in workshops, access unique learning resources, and reflect on their volunteer experience. 

Youth Crew who have met program expectations and advanced through their training in the first eight months are eligible to become Youth Crew Alumni. Youth Crew Alumni are eligible for training in more advanced responsibilities and tasks in animal care and education as determined by their training.   

Applicant Qualifications

All Youth Crew program participants must:

  • Be a high school (or equivalent level of homeschool) student between the ages of 15-18. 
    • Students still in high school must apply to Youth Crew to participate in volunteer activities at The Marine Mammal Center even if they are 18. 
  • Commit to a weekly 4 to 8 hour shift from January–August. 
  • Attend all required trainings and workshops. 
  • Arrange their own transportation to and from The Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands (near Sausalito, California). 
  • Have interest in developing their knowledge and practice in veterinary science, marine biology, environmental education, conservation and other related fields. 

Youth Crew Duties

The Youth Crew program year is composed of two volunteer roles, animal care and education. Both roles are required for participation the program (January-August). Prior work or volunteer experience is no required for participation though it can be beneficial. All training takes place at The Marine Mammal Center. Due to our volunteer commitment requirements we do not offer short-term volunteer opportunities outside of the Youth Crew program. 

Animal Care (January-May):

During their first session as a youth volunteer, youth will work closely with their animal care crew supervisors and fellow adult volunteers to support the rehabilitation of marine mammal patients by executing animal husbandry tasks.

Animal care volunteer responsibilities include:

  • washing equipment 
  • sorting fish 
  • cleaning animal pens/pools 
  • weighing animals 
  • scribing observations 
  • managing animals in pens 
  • and more 

Education (June-August):

In the summer Youth Crew volunteers will become youth counselors or youth interpreters in our Education department. Youth can support Camp Sea Quest or Guest Experience activities.  

Education volunteer responsibilities include: 

  • Greeting and interacting with the Center’s guests 
  • Supporting educational activities for elementary students 
  • Hikes through the Marin Headlands 
  • Communicating ocean conservation issues 
The Alumni Program:

After Youth Crew volunteers complete their first 8 months, they are eligible to continue volunteering at the Center as an animal care or education volunteer. The Youth Crew Alumni have opportunities to continue their learning and development through advanced workshops, field trips, assisting with outreach events and much more! 

How to Apply

Applicants apply by submitting an online application, teacher recommendation, and volunteer waiver before the deadline. Incomplete applications or application materials received after the deadline will not be reviewed. Interested applicants are encouraged to attend an Information Session at The Marine Mammal Center or contact the Program Lead at

Application Requirements

 Youth Crew Online Application

 Teacher Recommendation Form

 Emergency Waiver

 $50 Registration Fee* (only for accepted youth)

* Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.

Application Calendar

• The application period is currently closed. Please return to this page in Summer 2020 for information on the next application round.


Frequently Asked Questions

When will the Youth Crew application be available?
The application will be posted online in the fall between October-December. 

How can I find out more about Youth Crew?
Download the Youth Crew program flyer or attend an Information Session.

Can I volunteer if I am younger than 15? 
No. All youth must be in high school between the ages of 15-18. You must be at least 15 years old at the time your application is submitted. There are no exceptions.

What if I'm 18 years old, do I still have to apply to Youth Crew?
We require all students enrolled in high school to volunteer through Youth Crew. 

Can I volunteer for less than eight months, if I volunteer daily for several weeks?
No. All interested youth must commit to be in the Youth Crew program from January-August. All youth volunteers will be placed on a weekly crew, selected by the Youth Crew Team.

Can I just join animal care crew?
No. Education is a large part of The Marine Mammal Center’s mission. Not only do we work to rehabilitate marine mammal patients but we also want to spread awareness. All selected students will be required to participate on an education crew in the summer. They can either be a camp counselor with Camp SeaQuest or a youth interpreter with Guest Experience.

How often do I have to come to The Marine Mammal Center if I am accepted to the Youth Crew program?
Participants will be required to come weekly for their shift and attend a few additional workshops and trainings during the five-month program.

How can I learn more about Youth Crew?
Before the application deadline, we offer Information Sessions for students, parents, and teachers to meet the Youth Crew leads and ask questions.

For More Information Contact:

Youth Crew Lead

Thank You to our Supporters

The Marine Mammal Center is grateful for the generous support from Bank of America and the SATO Foundation, which has made it possible to remove cost as a barrier for youth participation.

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