Exploring LIfe's Options - Community Service

Exploring Life's O
ptions (ELOs) is a Coast Redwood High School community service program designed to offer students real-world experiences. Coast Redwood HS encourages students to explore their interests in order to prepare them for their futures as active citizens. Students are required to complete a minimum of 15 hours of ELOs (Community Service) every year.

Outdoor Science School, Santa Cruz County

Be a Cabin Leader

The Santa Cruz County Outdoor Science School is seeking energetic and responsible high school volunteers throughout the school year to serve as Cabin Leaders to small groups of 5th and 6th grade students. Each Cabin Leader is paired with a Naturalist who they assist on trail and during field studies. Cabin Leaders help ensure the student safety during daily activities and overnight in the cabins. All Cabin Leaders participate in Training the first and second day of the program before students arrive. Cabin Leaders arrive at 4pm the first day of the program week and are dismissed at 12:00pm on the final day program.

  • Earn up to 60 Community Service hours in one week
  • Earn 3 college credits by enrolling in ED80, an Education & Service Learning class at Cabrillo College. The course is free for high school students and can be taken in person or online.
  • Gain skills in Leadership and Risk Management during Cabin Leader Training
  • Have fun working with 5th and 6th grade students at the Outdoor Science School


Cabin Leader Application
Registration Packet

If you are unable to download an application, or would like more information please send me your me your contact information, or contact me via email or phone.

How to Earn 3 College Credits from Cabrillo College

Students receive 2 college credits for EDUC 80, and 1 credit for EDUC 80L during which students volunteer for one week as a Cabin Leader.

EDUC 80 is a lecture course that provides a general introduction to educational theory and practice. The course can be taken at Cabrillo College in Aptos or online. The on-campus lecture is 2 hours a week, and the online class is organized by modules. This class is worth 2 college units.
EDUC 80L is the Service Learning component to EDUC 80. High school students satisfy the 56 volunteer hours during one week of service as a Cabin Leader at the Santa Cruz County Outdoor Science School. This class is worth 1 college unit.

High school students must enroll in EDUC 80 before their service week as a Cabin Leader, to receive credit. To apply, students need to complete a Concurrent Enrollment application and return it to Cabrillo College Admissions by email at webreg@cabrillo.edu. The deadline to enroll is October 1st and the course will begin mid-October. Questions regarding EDUC 80 can be directed to the course instructor, Professor Mary Soltis by email at masoltis@cabrillo.edu. The course is free for high school students, however students will pay a small registration fee. More information about EDUC 80 can be found here.


Cabin Leader Program Coordinator
Santa Cruz County Outdoor Science School
Koinonia Conference Grounds
1605 Eureka Canyon Rd.
Watsonville, CA 95076

Call or text: 831-291-3997
Fax: 831-466-5945
Email: cabinleaderinfo@santacruzcoe.org

Ongoing Volunteer opportunities:
  • American Red Cross-Searching for ways to make a difference in your community, build your resume, complete community service hours and build leadership skills? The American Red Cross Santa Cruz County Chapter has some great volunteer opportunities for you! They empower youth to respond to the community's needs locally, nationally, and internationally through numerous leadership, education, and community service opportunities. 
  • Read more about the American Red Cross and fill out a youth application.
  • Bike Santa Cruz County-Bike Santa Cruz County promotes bicycling through advocacy, education and community building. Sign up and be a volunteer.

  •  Coast Redwood High School Garden- Teen empowerment program using food, through sustainable agriculture and health, as a vehicle for growing strong, healthy and inspired teens. Students support the garden project through planting, maintaining and harvesting, while studying alternative ways to sustain garden foods organically. See Melanie Burgess and Kay Mendoza for details       

  • Capitola Police Explorers-Being a police Explorer offers an opportunity to educate and involve youth in police operations. Through involvement, the Explorer program establishes and awareness of the complexities of police service and law enforcement functions. Besides gaining a working knowledge of police work, participants have the opportunity to serve the community. Many law enforcement agencies use the help of Explorers in areas such as crime prevention, traffic control, telecommunications, and community policing projects. Read more about the Police Explorer Program and for contact information.

  • California Highway Patrol Explorer Program-The California Highway Patrol's Explorer Program is designed for young men and women, 15 to 21 years of age, allowing them to develop the skills and knowledge needed to serve the people of California through discipline and a commitment to serving their community. Explorers assist the CHP both in office and out in the field. The experience they obtain here will be directly applicable to a future in law enforcement, while building relationships - with other Explorers, in the community they serve, and within the CHP. Explorers receive physical fitness training, medical training, organizational, and clerical training. As an Explorer, you'll attend Community Service events, staff DUI Checkpoints, participate in Ride-alongs in the field, and compete in Explorer Competitions. 'Explore' your future in Law Enforcement as a CHP Explorer. Read more about the program and for contact information

  • Caroline's Non-Profit Thrift Shop- This store celebrates Caroline, a child with special needs, who underwent surgery and never recovered. She received services from Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care, Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Jacob’s Heart, & SPIN (Special Parents Information Network.) “It’s a way to give back.” Caroline’s is staffed entirely by wonderful, dedicated volunteers. There are many volunteer opportunities. Read more about the program and for contact information.

  • Civil Air Patrol-The CAP Cadet Program is a year-round program where Cadets fly, learn to lead, hike, camp, get in shape, and push themselves to new limits. If you’re dreaming about a career in aviation, space, or the military, CAP’s Cadet Program is for you. To become a cadet, you must be be at least 12 years old and not yet 19 years old.  Cadets meet 2 hours per week and one Saturday per month, on average, and also have opportunities to attend leadership encampments, career academies, and other activities during the summer. Read more about the program and to fill out an application.

  • Food What-A youth empowerment and food justice program using food, through sustainable agriculture and health, as the vehicle for growing strong, healthy, and inspired teens. They partner with low-income and struggling youth to grow, cook, eat, and distribute healthy, sustainably raised food and address food justice issues in our community. Recruitment happens in the Spring semester. See Kay Mendoza for more information.

  • Grey Bears-Grey Bears improves the health and wellbeing of seniors through volunteerism and community participation. Grey Bears is big on reusing, repurposing, and upcycling donated items to help preserve our environment and divert as much as possible from the waste stream. Volunteer opportunities include repairing electronics, working in the office, preparing meals and so much more. Read more about volunteering opportunities and to submit an application.

  • Grind Out Hunger-Harnesses the energy of the youth, and their concern for helping their peers, to raise awareness, food, and funds to fight hunger.  The goal is to mobilize students to take action and become leaders around the issue of childhood hunger. While youth are often overlooked as donors and advocates for fighting childhood hunger, Grind Out Hunger unlocks their potential to make a difference. Sign up to become a volunteer.

  • Homeless Garden Project-Provides job training, transitional employment and support services to people who are homeless. HGP's vibrant education and volunteer program for the broad community blends formal, experiential and service-learning. The volunteer program is flexible to allow for varied interests (farming, retail, special events, technology, etc.) and schedules (daily, weekly, or just here and there). Read more about becoming a volunteer and to find contact information.

  • Homeless Services Center-Homeless Services Center has 3 main program areas designed to complement each other and to result in permanent housing for the people it serves. The programs include: Emergency and Transitional Shelters, Permanent Housing Programs and Income and Employment support​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​.                              
  • Read more about becoming a volunteer and to submit an application.

  • Jacob's Heart-Started in 1998, Jacob's Heart exists to improve the quality of life for children with cancer and support their families in the challenges they face. They rely on volunteers to help with day-to-day operations, creatively support families, raise funds, coordinate projects, and assist with all aspects of organizing events.                 
  • Sign up to become a volunteer.

  • Loaves and Fishes-A community supported food pantry and kitchen located in the primarily agricultural town of Watsonville. They feed, serve, and support the hungry people of the community, including working poor families, migrant farm workers, and elderly, disabled, and homeless individuals.                                                             
  • Read more about becoming a volunteer and to submit an application.

  • Mountain Resource Center-MRC is located in Felton and provides high quality, integrated health and human services that enrich the lives of their community. They have rewarding opportunities for you whether you want to work weekly, monthly, short-term projects, or for special events. Some examples include working in the resale store, computer lab, early childhood classroom, and the food pantry.  Read more about becoming a volunteer and to submit an application.

  • P.A.W.S. (Promoting Animal Welfare with Students)-The Santa Cruz SPCA has a youth volunteer program for students age 7 through 15. Orientations are on the first Monday of each month at 4pm at our shelter location, 2685 Chanticleer Ave, Santa Cruz. P.A.W.S. groups will meet for three week sessions. Students interested in P.A.W.S. must first fill out a P.A.W.S. volunteer application and sign up to attend a general volunteer orientation with a parent or guardian.

  • Outdoor Science School-An outdoor week-long camp for 5th and 6th graders where the program offers opportunities for supervised leadership training and community service to high school students who serve as cabin leaders. See Tara Roddy for more information and application. See your Supervising Teacher for an Application and directions.

  • Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter-Young people who need to complete community service hours for school may volunteer for Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter in Watsonville. If you are 13 –17 years old, you may work with the animals as long as you partner with a parent or legal guardian AT ALL TIMES, including during orientation and trainings. Read more about becoming a volunteer and filling out an application.

  • Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History-Would you like to become a better naturalist? Do you like interacting with youth or the public? Whether it be teaching, interpreting, gardening, tidepooling, or enjoying a guided hike with fellow volunteers.                                                                                                                                     
  • Read about becoming a volunteer at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History.

  • Santa Cruz Police Department-The Department greatly values their volunteers and recognize that what volunteers do has a direct impact on the safety of our community. Our volunteer's commitment to serving the department through various tasks, in turn improves the quality of life in our community. By accomplishing these duties and volunteering a minimum number of hours per month, each volunteer provides an outstanding service to the community.                                                        
  • Read more about becoming a volunteer at the Santa Cruz Police Department.

  • Saturday Restoration Days-A chance to work together and help bring back wildlife habitat in the Watsonville wetlands. No experience is necessary, just a desire to help restore wildlife habitat to these amazing wetlands. People of all ages are encouraged, and community service credit is available.                                                        
  • Read about volunteering and upcoming schedule.

  • Save Our Shores-There are numerous volunteer opportunities at Save Our Shores! Volunteers are a dynamic team working to protect and preserve the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Volunteers have a whole lot of fun while helping our ocean and marine environment thrive while giving back to your community and spending quality time outdoors. Read about becoming a volunteer at Save Our Shores.

  • Second Harvest Food Bank-Second Harvest’s mission is to end hunger and malnutrition by educating and involving the community. Through the network of more than 200 agencies and programs and over 3,000 volunteers, they distribute over 8 million pounds of food annually to working poor families, children, and seniors.                   
  • Read about becoming a volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank.

  • Senior Tech Days-Volunteers are needed every month to show participants how to use social media and personal electronic devices or answer any other technology questions seniors may have. All workshops are led by local teens with an adult supervisor on hand to answer any advanced questions seniors may have.                       
  • Read more about volunteering at a Senior Tech Day.

  • Seymour Marine Discovery Center-Teens who are 15 or older can become Exhibit Guides. Exhibit Guides are volunteers who assist visitors at the touch pools and interpret the aquarium and exhibit hall. Working alongside experienced docents, you will learn about marine science, gain valuable public speaking skills, and meet people from all walks of life and from all over the world. Read about becoming an Exhibit Guide.

  • Teen Kitchen-The Teen Kitchen Project is a nonprofit organization that brings young people into the kitchen to learn to cook delicious and nourishing food. The meals they prepare are delivered free of charge to individuals and families who are in crisis due to a life-threatening illness like cancer. The teens gain skills in cooking healthy food, learn about the impact of their food choices, and are offered an opportunity to build connections through community service.                                                              
  • Read about becoming a volunteer at Teen Kitchen.

  • Teen Peer Court-A program run by teens for teens. The objective of the Teen Peer Court program is to interrupt the developing pattern of criminal behavior in referred juveniles by promoting self-esteem, motivation for self-improvement, forming a healthy attitude toward authority, and increasing education.                                             
  • Read about how to participate in Teen Peer Court.

  • UCSC Creative Writing Series-features contemporary writers and artists who expose and explore the space between critical discourse and the creative imagination. Through the work of making art and the play in ideation, they mine issues of race, sexuality, gender, and class through several genres and media, to include poetry, fiction, critical prose, performance, sonic and visual art, memoir, as well as hybrid forms. This event happens on  Thursdays from 6:00-7:45 at the Humanities Lecture Hall, RM 206. Read more about upcoming authors.

  • Watsonville Police Department Cadet Program-The Watsonville Police Cadet Program, Explorers Post 501, operates under the sponsorship of the Chief of Police and the Watsonville Police Department, in cooperation with the Boy Scouts of America. The youth are between fourteen and twenty years old. Two full-time Watsonville police officers volunteer their services as advisers whose role is to mentor the cadets. The program provides young people with the opportunity to explore the law enforcement field as a possible career choice. Read more about the cadet program and submit an application.

  • Youth Serve-Is dedicated to connecting youth, ages 11-17, with rewarding community service projects across the Santa Cruz County. Under the direction of adult volunteer leaders, YouthSERVE volunteers contribute their talents to making positive change in our community. Read about volunteering through Youth Serve opportunities.

Monthly Community Events:
  • Science Sundays-Join the Seymour Center on the third Sunday of every month (except December), for a public lecture from a marine scientist, who presents current research and topics in an entertaining and easy-to-understand format, with up-to-date photos, video, and discussion. Science Sunday is for everyone interested in the world around them. Read about upcoming topics and schedule.