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Public Programs Lead

California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, United States of America Req #92
Thursday, October 26, 2023

About the Opportunity:
The Public Programs Lead, reporting to the Public Programs Manager, is responsible for conducting informal science education programs with museum guests. These programs could include informal science education programs for all-age audiences, live animal programs, theater programs, programs for young children and their caregivers, virtual programs, as well as conversations with guests centered around natural history specimens and objects. 

The Lead spends a minimum of three days per week on the museum floor interacting with guests and is comfortable engaging with guests and presenting on any topic relevant to the Academy and its mission and assists with a variety of projects such as program evaluations, inventory and maintenance, and updating program outlines. Leads provide guidance and coaching to Public Programs Presenters and function as daily coordinators on the museum public floor.

Organizational Culture:
Join a team dedicated to the Academy’s mission, vision and values! Currently, the Academy has a new strategic plan including three initiatives – Hope for Reefs, Thriving California, and Islands 2030 – that leverage biodiversity science, environmental learning, and collaborative engagement to regenerate fragile ecosystems around the world. Learn more at

We are committed to ensuring diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion are intrinsic to Academy culture and operations, from recruitment and retention to science and advocacy.

We hope you are inspired by what we do and are excited to contribute to our mission. The mission of the California Academy of Sciences is to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. The Academy is looking for candidates who do great work, and we know they may come from a number of different backgrounds and experiences. We encourage you to apply even if you do not believe you meet every one of the qualifications for the position.

This position is based in San Francisco, California. Please do not apply if you are not able to work onsite. This position is part of a bargaining unit represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 1021. Candidates are required to have up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, absent qualifying exemptions in accordance with applicable laws. Individuals receiving a conditional offer of employment from the California Academy of Sciences will be provided the full text of the vaccination policy. The California Academy of Sciences is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace, to protect its employees, volunteers and guests.

About the Public Programs Team:
The Public Programs Team is dedicated to facilitating programs and guest-lead engagements that enrich guest experiences at the Academy, including daily programming at iconic exhibits, early childhood programming, specimen interaction and much more. Through these programs, the Public Programs team helps share the Academy’s mission to regenerate the natural world and major initiatives to guests of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences.

Key Responsibilities:
Deliver highly engaging programs to the public throughout the museum on various topics including natural history, science, and sustainability/conservation information for guests of all ages

  • Use appropriate interpretive techniques to inspire wonder and guests to action
  • Maintain a high level of enthusiasm while performing repetitive, interpretive programs
  • Provide excellent customer service to guests and staff
  • Act as Lead of Duty (LOD) at least once per week and aid Presenters with daily challenges on the museum public floor and serve as primary point of contact on radio 
  • Assist with daily operational duties, such as opening and closing procedures, and submitting operational work orders 
  • Fill open shifts and duties when other Presenters staff call out.
  • Support Presenter team by serving as a mentor and role model for and helping to train and coach Public Programs Presenters 
  • Assist with program and content development or updates, prop and material preparation and maintenance, administrative tasks, and special projects as assigned.
  • Maintain knowledge of Academy programming spaces including equipment storage, AV systems, and appropriate usage 
  • Assist with the coordination and implementation program evaluations and visitor assessments, and special programs and events 
  • Represent the Public Programs and Academy Volunteers department in assigned interdepartmental situations, such as Health and Safety Committee, and offsite events as assigned.
  • Help to maintain a positive work environment and to work cooperatively within and across teams.
  • Follow all Academy safety regulations and complete all HR-assigned training.
  • Support the Academy’s mission, vision and division-wide initiatives
  • Perform other job-related duties as assigned.

Qualifications: A successful candidate will have the following:
Experience and Education:

  • At least 3 years of public speaking experience 
  • At least 3 years of  experience in science education, natural history education, early childhood education, outdoor education, museum education, theater, and/or related field
  • College-level coursework, training, or background in one or more of the following fields: natural or physical science, education (formal or informal), natural history interpretation, science communication, performing arts, or other relevant fields

Skills and Abilities:

  • Strong leadership skills 
  • Excellent public speaking skills 
  • Excellent interpersonal communication skills
  • Adapt and maintain flexibility in changing and fast-paced environments
  • Can follow tasks through to completion with little supervision 
  • Maintain a high level of enthusiasm, energy, and creativity while performing repetitive programs regularly
  • Make complicated science concepts accessible to general audiences while maintaining scientific accuracy
  • Work well independently as well as in teams
  • Accept feedback graciously and integrate it into practice as needed
  • Effectively work on diverse teams and with a diverse range of people
  • Comfort working with small children (0-5 years old) and their caregivers
  • Comfort working with live animals including snakes and insects
  • Fluency in a second language preferred
  • Excellent knowledge of best practices in interpretation preferred
  • Excellent knowledge of science, natural history, and/or conservation topics preferred

Physical Environment:
Ability to lift and transport 25-50 lbs across concrete and uneven floors. 

  • Ability to perform repetitive motions 25-50% of the time. 
  • Ability to work safely in both outdoor and indoor environments that may include stairs, uneven paths, bark, and secure access areas. 
  • The position requires frequent visits to the museum public floor
    • Walking on concrete floors, 
    • Extensive time standing, intervals of time outdoors in varying environmental condition
    • Tolerance of high levels of noise, and extensive public speaking, sometimes in noisy, crowded environments. 
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand, sit, use a computer, and communicate on the phone, in person, and online meetings/calls.

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.

Compensation and Benefits
The Academy offers a total compensation package that emphasizes both base salary and comprehensive benefits based on the hours per week worked.

Schedule: This full-time Lead position is 40 hr/week at $28.55/hr, requiring 5 regularly scheduled, 8:30am-5pm shifts per week including weekend, holiday, and evening work. Regular schedule will be Thursday-Monday or Tuesday-Saturday. 

This position will close on November 9, 2023 at 9pm. Review of applications will begin on October 27, 2023.

Please upload your resume, cover letter, and complete the brief online application 

The California Academy of Sciences will give full consideration for employment to 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).


We are committed to ensuring that all employees and applicants shall receive equal consideration and treatment. All terms and conditions of employment, including but not limited to, recruitment, hiring, placements, transfers, promotions, compensation, benefits, terminations, training, and social and recreational programs, will be on the basis of qualifications of the individual for the positions being filled. The Academy does not discriminate against qualified applicants or employees with respect to any terms or conditions of employment on account of any characteristic protected by state or federal law or local ordinance. Read our full Equal Opportunity Statement here.

Other details

  • Pay Type Hourly
  • Employment Indicator Regular FT
  • Hiring Rate $28.55
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Location on Google Maps
  • California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, United States of America