Volunteering opportunities

UK-based volunteering opportunities

  • Zoological Society of London – London & Whipsnade Zoos both recruit learning volunteers who engage and interact with visitors. Recruitment happens around once a year so keep an eye out on their website and Twitter.

  • Thames 21 – Thames catchment-based organisation that organises regular waterway clean-ups and citizen science work, and also provides excellent training days that are currently free for volunteers to attend.

  • Based in South-West London, the Wandle Trust organise regular community clean-ups, as well as opportunities to get involved in citizen science or become a trained River Ranger.

  • The Wildlife Trusts – With 47 trusts based across the UK, there are a huge variety of volunteer opportunities. Keep your eyes peeled for formal positions such as Volunteer Trainee Reserves Officer schemes.

  • Wildlife Extra – Posts regular advertisements for volunteering opportunities, alongside jobs and courses.

  • Trees for Cities - Tree planting days, often with free goody bags! Trees For Life also organise conservation weeks to restore native habitat in the Caledonian Forest.

  • WWT has volunteering vacancies in a range of activities including reserve management, office roles, education and photography. They also offer 12 month volunteer placements for undergraduates with a sandwich year or recent graduates looking to gain experience.

  • Volunteering in environmental education and outreach programmes can provide useful communication skills required for many conservation jobs. Bright Futures (Norfolk) and Earth Calling (Edinburgh) both specialise in environmental education for children/young adults, but there are huge numbers of varied schemes all around the UK that regularly recruit volunteers.

  • The Conservation Volunteers post volunteering activities that are searchable by postcode, and also organise the Green Gym.

  • The Natural History Museum recruits Learning Volunteers in a similar format to ZSL, as well as interns, work experience students, and Garden helpers.

  • Active 360 run paddle-boarding litter picking events on the Thames, in conjunction with partners such as the Canal and Rivers Trust and Thames21. Business such as Moo Canoes also offer reduced price SUP lessons with littler picking.

  • The RSPB offer a range of volunteer roles at centres around the country, as well as advice on the range of different conservation career paths available from different RSPB staff.

  • The Countryside Jobs Service have published 8 articles under the topic ‘A Focus on Volunteering’, in association with the RSPB. Contributors include A Focus on Nature, WWT, Canal and Rivers Trust, Kent Wildlife Trust and the Forestry commission, and the articles include details of 14 placements, 44 regular volunteer positions and details of projects, groups and work parties.

International experience and expeditions

Many organisations offer international experience, ranging from scientific research experience to 'voluntourism' opportunities. These can provide great experience and CV points, but it is important to check the credentials of an organisation before you sign up, to ensure that by participating you aren’t causing more harm than good. Check this useful article from the Guardian and have a look at some of the organisations below.

  • Coral Cay Conservation specialise in the organisation of community based coral reef and tropical forest expeditions, with an excellent reputation for marine fieldwork.

  • Blue Ventures a science-led social enterprise that works with coastal communities to develop marine conservation projects. They run expeditions in Belize, Madagascar and Timor-Leste.

  • The British Exploring Society is a youth development charity, running expeditions ‘to wild and remote overseas locations in order to challenge and positively transform the expectations and future lives of young people’.

  • Global Vision International are an international volunteering organisation, offering volunteering opportunities, internships and youth programs.

  • ΑΡΧΕΛΩΝ-Archelon, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece, is an NGO working with loggerhead turtles that recruits monitoring and public awareness volunteers for the summer seasons.

  • Aroha Island off the coast of New Zealand is a conservation-focused island entirely managed and run by volunteers, and a beautiful setting for short or long term volunteering.

  • Operation Wallacea offer opportunities for undergraduates and masters students looking to undertake field projects abroad for their dissertations or as research experience.