Four people overlooking Mono Lake on a bright sunny day smile at eachother while one looks through binoculars and tow of them have official Mono Lake Volunteer shirts and vests.

Volunteer

The Mono Lake volunteer program is a joint initiative sponsored by the US Forest Service, California State Parks, and the Mono Lake Committee, with support from the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association and the Bodie Foundation.

Volunteers are an important part of these agencies’ work on behalf of Mono Lake. The Mono Lake volunteer program has been extremely beneficial to Mono Lake—each year, volunteers contribute hundreds of hours of time—thank you volunteers!

What volunteers do

Volunteers are ambassadors for Mono Lake and the Mono Basin, meeting visitors from all over the world while teaching them about this unique place.

Core volunteer jobs include:

  • roving at South Tufa, Old Marina, or Panum Crater to answer visitors’ questions and encourage resource protection
  • staffing a bird watching station at Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve boardwalk at County Park 
  • answering questions at the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center
  • pulling invasive plants and watering trees in restoration areas
  • helping with mailings for the Mono Lake Committee

With additional training, volunteers may also lead tours at South Tufa and Panum Crater and give patio talks at the Scenic Area Visitor Center.

The Mono Lake Committee also hosts several events that depend on volunteer help to run smoothly:

  • Adopt-A-Highway cleanup days
  • Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua
  • Tioga Pass Run

Participants choose their jobs to suit their own interests, while also matching the needs of the agencies and organizations involved to benefit Mono Lake.

A person wearing a blue shirt with "Mono Lake Volunteer" written on the back with a drawing of a California Gull, standing in front of a spotting scope at a boardwalk bird watching station overlooking a tufa tower and Mono Lake.

Volunteer training

Local interpretive experts Janet Carle and Dave Marquart, with volunteer coordinator Karen Gardner, conduct the Mono Lake volunteer training. It typically is held during the first weekend in June and consists of five field sessions focused on exploring visitor areas around the Mono Basin. There is no charge for the training, but it is requested that participants volunteer for at least eight hours per month during the summer season.

About 15 people standing on the Mono Lake shoreline listening to a person standing in Mono Lake leading a tour on a beautiful sunny day with the snowy Sierra Nevada in the background.
Volunteer training with Dave Herbst.

Karen and Janet also organize fun and informative volunteer training events and field trips with Mono Basin experts. Volunteers often stay connected throughout the year and organize get-togethers outside of regular volunteer events.

Meet the volunteers

Mono Lake volunteers are a diverse group that share a common love for the Mono Basin and enjoy passing on their enthusiasm to visitors and locals alike.

Woman smiling straight into the camera while standing in front of a fir tree.

“My favorite volunteer activity is to focus my scope on an Osprey nest to begin conversations with visitors at South Tufa.”

—Sherryl Taylor, Mammoth Lakes resident

“It is great fun interacting with all of the Mono Lake visitors who are hungry for information about this beautiful and ancient place.”

—Ellen Mosher, Lundy Canyon and Prescott, Arizona, resident
Woman smiling looking straight into the camera with Mono Lake in the background.

Person standing with their hands on a very large bag of vegetation pulled out from the streambed she is standing in, with willows and other vegetation around her.

“I help with the restoration of Mono Lake—removing invasive weeds and also trail work. My nickname is “Maddog” so I try to live up to the name.”

—Maddog, Hawthorne, Nevada, resident

Become a Mono Lake Volunteer

For more information or to sign up to volunteer, including for the next training session, contact Claire Landowski at (760) 647-6595. 

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