Resident volunteer housing opportunities are available at many U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries. Resident Volunteers provide their own "homes" (some type of recreational vehicle), or they stay in refuge or hatchery housing if available. The field station typically provides such amenities as an RV pad with septic, water and electricity hook-ups. In some cases, there will be a "common area" provided with laundry facilities, Internet access, phones, etc. Government housing may consist of shared spaces such as houses, bunkhouses, cabins, mobile homes, trailers, and even field camps at some Alaska refuges.
It is important to note that providing a daily or flat rate allowance, per diem or subsistence pay to volunteers for the intent of covering their expenses is not allowed. Volunteers may be reimbursed for substantiated and actual expenses directly related to their contributed services.
Each field station will have a unique set of opportunities and requirements. Most sites require a minimum of 40 hours per week for a couple, and 32 hours a week for a single person living on an RV pad. Some sites may require more or fewer hours. It's important to make sure both the volunteers and the field station are very clear on the hour-requirements BEFORE the volunteers commit to the site. Guidelines suggest that the number of hours required and the value of the type of work assigned should roughly equal the "going rate" for a camper pad in the local area. For this reason, the requirements will vary widely from place to place.
Resident volunteers are encouraged to give more time and energy than the "minimum required." The more of yourself you invest, the more fulfilling will be your experience. At some locations, the minimum hours might be assigned to a specific job at a specific time in order to keep the basic operations of the refuge or hatchery covered. For example, if sea turtles are hatching, you may have the opportunity to participate in "Turtle Watch" in the evenings, but those hours will not take the place of your assigned duties.
Resident volunteers especially enjoy working side-by-side with refuge or hatchery staff and becoming part of the refuge or hatchery family. They have a beautiful place to live for a period of time and are able to explore and experience the refuge or hatchery, as well as the local area. And, in return, the refuge or hatchery gains valuable volunteer assistance.
List of Resident Volunteer Opportunities (updated 2-1-2013)