The Public Programs Specialist is responsible for creating, developing and implementing programs/activities/engagements that meet the needs of our highly diverse, all age audiences. Programs support our annual programming themes, new exhibits, planetarium shows and events. They also provide education volunteers with guidance, training and support in museum engagement and interpretation techniques, practice and current theory. Additionally, specialists coordinate and ensure the smooth operations of daily experiences/activities within venues including the Naturalist Center and Curiosity Grove and all programs that take place in those venues. Weekend and evening work will be required. Specialists spend at least one day per week on the main floor interacting with guests. This position reports to the Director of Public Programs.

The California Academy of Sciences welcomes people of all backgrounds, identities, and beliefs to join us in achieving our mission to explore, explain, and sustain life on Earth. We place diversity, equity, and inclusion at the heart of our recruiting efforts and strive to build a culture centered on mutual respect, equal treatment, and the opportunity to succeed.


Design, develop, implement and deliver programs/activities/engagements that maximize program attendance, visitor engagement, and inspire guests.

  • Develop and maintain specialized operational knowledge and best practices of Naturalist Center, Curiosity Grove/Family Programs/All Age Programs/Informal Interpretation.
  • Develop and coordinate trainings and check-outs on all new programs.
  • Oversight of program evaluations and visitor assessments.
  • Delegate tasks and projects to Leads in cooperation with Supervisors and Manager.
  • Use creativity to bring new and innovative guest experiences to the floor.
  • Lead and facilitate brainstorming sessions with cross departmental staff and volunteers
  • Curate and develop exhibits and interpretive objects on relevant themes.
  • Collaborate with PP and PE&E staff to develop and implement interpretive programming for dynamic educational events and special initiatives.
  • Delivers highly engaging presentations throughout the Academy on various topics.
  • Oversight and coordination of animal handling training and program needs.

Ensure volunteers and staff provide quality engagement with Academy guests by:

  • Develop and implement the training and check out process for staff on new programs/activities/engagements.
  • Supervise education volunteers and delegation of their projects.
  • Collaborate with Volunteer Coordinator to recruit and train volunteers on special projects.
  • Develop and provide stimulating and effective training to volunteers on the best practices in informal engagement based on principles of adult learning, current research, and past experience.
  • Provide feedback and coaching to staff and volunteers on their programs/activities/ engagements
  • Develop and conduct assessments of informal science programs and activities to assess their effectiveness, the interpretive skills of the staff/volunteers, and guest engagement.
  • Develop and implement cross-departmental trainings and workshops on best practices in area expertise.
    Coordinate the maintenance of accurate program calendar listings on the Academy website and intranet, submitting operational work orders and sign/graphics requests in order to support the smooth operation of daily programs.
  • Develop and maintain supportive relationships with staff and individual volunteers and serve as a role model and mentor.
  • Create and maintain positive working relationships and collaborate with cross departmental teams to ensure strong partnerships and successful floor programming.
  • Partner and represent the Academy with outside leaders and stakeholders
  • Maintain a professional demeanor within the workplace, including consistent attendance.
  • Assist in the preparation and monitoring of annual operational budget for programs.
  • Support other division-wide initiatives.
  • Follows all Academy safety regulations
  • Other duties as assigned

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

The ideal candidate will possess a combination of the following education and/or equivalent experience:

  • Degree or equivalent experience required in, science, environmental education, museum education, adult training.
  • 4 years’ experience in science, interpretation, informal science education, natural history, outdoor education, and/or theater
  • 3 years’ experience with public speaking in informal/museum or natural science education setting or venue
  • 2 years’ experience training education volunteers.
  • Bi-lingual language skills desirable
  • Specialized training and experience in two or more of the following areas in early childhood education, natural history collection management and exhibit curation, all age informal science programming, informal interpretation, and science curriculum development
  • Familiarity with working in a large, multi-tiered organization a plus


  • Demonstrated ability to develop, implement and evaluate informal science programs for diverse audiences.
  • Knowledge of interpretation theory and concepts, and experience in training interpretation and engagement principles and techniques.
  • Ability to partner with a wide range of stakeholders including volunteers.
  • Strong leadership skills. Ability to lead a small to medium-sized team specializing in informal science education for all age audiences. Ability to be a role model for other staff and volunteers.
  • Ability to influence others without having direct oversight.
  • Ability to delegate and train others to meet department goals and project deadlines.
  • Excellent presentation skills and fundamental knowledge of the best practices in interpretation
  • Attention to scientific accuracy and excellent natural history, aquarium, and science collections knowledge
  • Ability to understand and interpret scientific information and make complicated science concepts accessible to general audiences
  • Detail oriented and able to follow tasks through to completion with little supervision
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks and projects simultaneously
  • Ability to view all public floor engagements in a holistic way and plan for future outcomes
  • Comfort working with live animals including snakes and insects at highly attended floor programs is highly desirable
  • Comfort with speaking on a microphone in front of groups as large as 100-400 people in a very busy, often loud museum setting
  • Comfort with teaching small children (0-5 yo) and their caregivers
  • Developmental knowledge of children
  • High energy, creativity, and enthusiasm
  • Ability to work with staff/volunteers/general public appropriately
  • Ability to adapt and maintain flexibility in changing environments
  • Helps to maintain a positive work environment and to work cooperatively and collaboratively within a team.

Ability to read and interpret documents such as safety rules, operating and maintenance instructions, and procedure manuals.  Ability to write reports and correspondence.  Ability to speak effectively before groups or individuals. Bilingual (spoken and/or written) in Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, or other non-English language preferred.

The physical demands and work environment described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand, sit, walk, and reach with hands and arms, and talk or hear. The position requires frequent visits to the museum public floor (walking on concrete floors, climbing stairs), extensive time standing, sitting on the floor, intervals of time outdoors in varying environmental conditions, tolerance of high levels of noise, and extensive public speaking, sometimes at a podium and sometimes in noisy environments. Must be able to lift 50lbs.  Must be able to perform repetitive motions 25% of the time.

This is a mandated reporter designated position.  Academy employees whose duties include direct contact and supervision of children are deemed mandated reporters under California Law. Mandated reporters have certain specific reporting obligations in the event that they know of, observe or reasonably suspect that a child has been the victim of child abuse or neglect. The Academy provides mandated reporters with training on their rights and obligations under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act.

The California Academy of Sciences will consider for employment all qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance (SF Police Code, Article 49).

The California Academy of Sciences is an Equal Opportunity Employer and is committed to ensure that all employees and applicants receive equal consideration and treatment, regardless of race, color, creed, gender (including gender identity or gender expression), religion, marital or domestic partner status, age, national origin or ancestry, physical, mental or medical disability, sex, sexual orientation, citizenship, military service status, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law or local ordinance.

The California Academy of Sciences is a non-smoking facility. There is also no smoking in Golden Gate Park.

How to Apply:

Please submit your cover letter and resume online at the link: is external) Note that the recruitment timeline for positions vary and depend on many factors, so it is impossible to accurately predict when a position will close. We appreciate your patience during this process. No phone calls please.