Notes: This is an update to the Volunteering Guide I wrote in 2022. Also, I have a new website dedicated to LA environmental resources! Be sure to bookmark it if you’re in LA and itching to get into action 🙂
Welcome to the LA Climate Action Guide!
Volunteering for environmental causes is a great way to spend an evening or weekend having an impact, with fun activities and maybe even the outdoors thrown into the mix!
Finding volunteer opportunities is surprisingly difficult, though. Searching the internet for ‘environmental volunteering’ or ‘volunteer for the climate’ doesn’t always pull up what you’re looking for or represent the full range of possibilities. You often have to try multiple search terms and sift through opportunities that vary widely in what activities they focus on, what skills they require, and their time commitment.
When I first got started after moving to LA, I poked around the internet and signed up for volunteer events here and there. Over time, I found more organizations through email lists, links from one organization to another, and introductions.
To make the process of getting started easier, I’ve put together a list of organizations and volunteer resources in LA.
The two main types of volunteering related to the environment are Advocacy and Nature. Advocacy is about communicating and building support for policies and social change. Nature volunteering is about interacting with ecosystems and tends to be outdoors: planting, observing, and teaching about organisms and habitats.
You don’t have to pick just one between Advocacy and Nature! They complement each other, and I’d suggest trying a bit of each, and finding the mix that works for you.
Before we start, here are some notes on how to use this website:
- This list is under construction! I will add resources as I find them. It’s not meant to be exhaustive, nor can it be.
- I recommend using this list by signing up to hear directly from the organizations you are interested in: join their email list or connect on social media. Then, try out a few opportunities until you find one or more organizations to commit to.
- I only have direct knowledge and opinions about some of the groups listed. The rest are included as starting points to jumpstart your own research.
- While I make every effort to refresh the information here, it can only be so up-to-date. Please interact with each organization directly for timely information about their events.
Now, let’s get to the organizations. There are three sections below. The first is Places to Look (namely, databases of organizations I looked through when making this resource, that you can refer to directly), followed by selected organizations focused on Advocacy and Nature respectively.
Places to Look
These are places to look for climate organizations to volunteer with.
It might take some in-depth research and sorting to find ones that have volunteer-based events or work on areas you are interested in. I have done some of that sifting for you in the sections below, but if none of those organizaations meet your needs and you want to do your own search, you can start here.
- Here’s a spreadsheet of climate organizations compiled by Citizen’s Climate lobby.
- This calendar of upcoming climate events in the Los Angeles area: Climate Collective will send you a text of upcoming climate events.
- Try these volunteer opportunity aggregators:
- Go to Volunteer Match and enter ‘Environment’ and ‘Animals’ in the ‘Cause Area’ filter.
- Go to Catchafire.org and select ‘Environment’ under ‘Causes.’ This is a good one because you can specify any special skills you want to volunteer, like graphic design or programming.
- Go to Mobilize US and click ‘Filters’, and search for the terms ‘environment’ and ‘climate.’
- Try this resource guide for gardening, sustainable living, and supporting local organizations that feed and sustain Angelenos: 2021 Urban Farmers Almanac.
- Go to Act Blue’s directory and check the options under ‘Environment’ in ‘Nonprofit Issue Areas’.
- Check out this Charity Navigator page of highly rated environmental and advocacy organizations.
- Check out this directory of conservation nonprofits: Los Angeles natural resource conservation nonprofits | Cause IQ for a pretty broad list to filter down from.
- Check out these lists of parks, wetlands, and land trusts, find one near you, and see if they have a volunteer opportunities.:
This is a non-exhaustive list to get you started, in no particular order. I suggest signing up for their email lists, attending a few meetings, and deciding which to commit to. If none of these work for you, check out the ‘Places to Look’ section above to find more organizations on your own.
In their own words: “Our movement is rising up for bold climate action. We work with people across the world to oppose those wrecking our climate and to fight for a sustainable future. At every step of the way we are driven by the knowledge that every voice makes a difference, and every battle won is another step towards a safe, liveable planet.”
Authors’s note: I have worked with my local chapter, and in my experience they focus on policy and legislation at the state level.
Here is a chapter map to find your local chapter.
If you are in LA county, your chapter is likely one of these:
Citizen’s Climate Lobby
And we need you on our team.”
Author’s note: I have worked with my local chapter, and in my experience, they are focused on policy and legislation at the federal level.
Here is a chapter map to find your local chapter. If you are in LA county, it is likely one of these:
- CA San Fernando Valley CCL Chapter. For more information on how to become involved, please email sanfernando[at]citizensclimatelobby[dot]org”
- CA SoCal Tri-Counties. “For information on meeting time and location, please email socaltricouties.ca [at] citizensclimatelobby.org”
- CA Long Beach Area. “For information on how to become involved please email longbeach[at]citizensclimatelobby[dot]org”
- CA Los Angeles West CCL Chapter. “For information on how to become involved please email losangeles at citizensclimatelobby dot org”
- CA Los Angeles Mid City CCL chapter. “We are looking for more new members especially constituents of California’s 37th district. For information on how to become involved please email la.midcity [at] citizensclimatelobby [dot] org”
- CA South Bay Area. “For more information on how to get involved, please email southbay.ca [at] citizensclimatelobby.org”
- CA Orange County Coast. “For more information about how to get involved, please email orangecounty [at] citizensclimatelobby.org”
- CA Pasadena Foothills CCL chapter. “For meeting time and location, email pasadena at citizensclimatelobby dot org”
- CA Inland Valley CCL chapter. “For information on how to become involved please email inlandvalley at citizensclimatelobby dot org”
In their own words: “We believe everyone should have access to clear air and water, full pantries of food, affordable housing, free public transportation, good and meaningful jobs, vibrant community centers, and lives filled with joy. We’re building a movement to make that happen.”
Author’s note: I’ve been to events that partnered with the Sunrise Movement. They are youth-oriented and policy-focused.
Here is a hub map to find your local hub. If you are in LA county, it is likely one of these:
- Sunrise Movement LA
- Sunrise Movement Long Beach
- Sunrise Movement Orange County
- Sunrise Claremont Colleges
- Sunrise Los Angeles Youth
In their own words: “We are fighting for opportunity, so everyone has the chance to earn a good life; progress on social issues, so all have the freedom to live the lives they choose; and security, so we are protected from 21st century global threats.”
Author’s note: I haven’t worked with them myself, but I have signed up for their emails and found their resources useful.
Climate Reality Project
In their own words: “At The Climate Reality Project, our global network of 3.5 million is working to build a just and sustainable true net zero future.”
Author’s note: I have taken their training and the organizations I work with have partnered with them on events and issues.
In their own words: “We champion solutions to the climate crisis. We work for clean air, safe water, land protection, and a vibrant natural world. We fight for environmental and social justice. We believe in getting people outside to enjoy the outdoors.”
Author’s note: I haven’t worked with them directly, but they have partnered with many of the groups I have worked with on issues and events.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of organizations that hold outdoor volunteer events, categorized by the type of work they do. Follow them to see what they have coming up!
[Just a list by category for now, more details to come.]
This activity involves maintaining trails. It tends to be on the strenuous side, and fun!
- Trails | Sierra Club Angeles Chapter
- Santa Monica Trail crew
- San Gabriel Sierra Club Forest Committee | Facebook
- Volunteer | Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (look for trail work opportunities)
This activity includes planting, weeding, and removing trash and other objects.
- Nature Conservancy parks map
- Channel Islands Restoration
- South Bay Parks Volunteer Opportunities
- Transition Habitat Conservancy
- Volunteer | Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (look for Outdoor Volunteer days)
- Surf Rider Beach Cleanups
- Volunteer — Los Angeles Audubon Society
- Citizen Science: Be Part of Something Bigger | Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Volunteer | Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (look for ‘animal tracking’)
More to come!