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From its start in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has owed its very existence to concerned citizens eager to protect America's natural resources.


Volunteering
The refuge utilizes volunteers year-round.  Below are the position descriptions.  To apply, visit volunteer.gov or email a resume to the volunteer coordinator, Marion_Mason@fws.gov.

Resident Volunteers

 

Requirements:

  • 3 month minimum commitment
  • Each volunteer contributes 24 hours per week
  • Provide own RV
  • Responsible for keeping their RV site and Volunteer Communal Areas clean and safe.
  • Flexibility

 

Benefits:

  • Cement RV pad with full hook-ups for electric (30 and 50 amp), water, sewer, wifi
  • Adolph Thomae County Park volunteers – provided with a furnished apartment, boat parking
  • A sense of accomplishment, learning about a new place, new skills
  • Certificate and Volunteer Awards based on hours
  • Living among nature and wildlife

 

Local Volunteers

 

Requirements:

  • Commit to a minimum of two shifts per month (shifts to be mutually agreed upon between volunteer and their supervisor)
  • Provide own transportation to and from the refuge
  • Specific requirements depending on position
  • Must be at least 18 years old

 

Benefits:

  • A sense of accomplishment, learning about a new place, new skills
  • With 250 hours contributed per year, earn a Volunteer Pass for FREE entry to National Public Lands for a year
  • Certificate and Volunteer Awards based on hours

 

 

 

 

JOB DESCRIPTIONS

Maintenance Volunteer:

Assist maintenance staff with day-to-day maintenance and/or special projects or tasks.

Work in a safe manner to insure the safety of yourself, your fellow workers and the general public.

 

Examples of Work Projects:

Minor plumbing repairs, washing & waxing vehicles, minor vehicle and equipment maintenance, interior and exterior painting, cleaning buildings and restrooms, mowing grass, tree trimming, trail maintenance, minor electrical repairs, clearing brush, roofing repairs, operation of weed whips, minor carpentry projects, digging, weed control, minor concrete projects, welding projects, sign installation, janitorial duties, litter pickup, collect and empty trash and recyclables, operate hand and power tools, facility construction, and other tasks as assigned.

 

Equipment Operation:

Operation of mowers, weed whips, power tools, etc. requires initial training by a refuge staff person

Note: To operate equipment such as utility vehicles, agricultural tractors, backhoes, skid steer loaders, fork lifts, crawlers, graders, chain saws, pole saws, etc., volunteers must be certified by The Fish and Wildlife Service with completion of online and hands-on training. Classes are scheduled on an as-needed-basis.

 

Degree of difficulty:  Can be physically demanding -- Heavy lifting, stooping, bending, kneeling, standing, and ladder use is required; often working outdoors in remote areas with potential for extreme heat, venomous snakes and insects (i.e. ticks and chiggers).

 

Administrative Volunteer: Will assist refuge managers and biologists with:

  • Copying/Faxing/Filing/Shredding documents
  • Answering phones and directing calls
  • Greeting guests at the refuge office
  • Mailing/Fed Ex
  • Assisting with errands on the refuge and/or picking up supplies in town.
  • Maintaining inventory of clerical supplies
  • Cleaning/organizing equipment, files, etc.
  • Sweeping/cleaning/mopping offices and bathrooms

 

Degree of difficulty:  Average with minimal physical demand.  Possibly long periods of sitting. May require lifting, bending, walking and standing. 

 

Visitor Services:

Must enjoy and be able to interact with people of all ages and from diverse backgrounds. Volunteers who are flexible and have positive attitudes typically have excellent experiences working in the visitor services program. 

 

Visitor Center Operation -  Training is provided to teach volunteers refuge rules, regulations, and operating procedures.

·    Greet and provide information to the visiting public.

  • Collect entrance and tour fees.  Sell Federal entrance passes.  Operate cash register.
  • Close out register at end of day and complete financial report.

·    Register participants for and provide information about our programs

·    Operate visitor center, including: open/close center; stocking bird feeders;  answering phones;  maintaining/cleaning interior and exterior public areas to include restroom facilities.

  • Bayside Drive fee collector (collect entrance fee and give information for up to 2 hours at the Bayside Drive entrance) – involves standing outside

·    Operate Audio visual equipment.

 

Degree of difficulty:  Average with minimal physical demand. During peak season (December-March), it may require standing and/or talking for longer periods of time.

 

Tour Guide  - Training is provided on program content, procedures and presentation techniques. Specialized skills such as bird identification are the responsibility of the volunteer.

  • Lead interpretive tours for a wide variety of audiences (bird tours/ habitat tours).
  • Clean and prepare tour vehicle for tours daily (van or shuttle bus)
  • Perform minor maintenance of tour vehicle and report major maintenance needs to Refuge staff
  • Maintain any necessary equipment such as binoculars, spotting scopes or spotlights.
  • Ensure safety of passengers at all times
  • Assist with loading and unloading passengers
  • Provide information to the general public.
  • Assist with environmental education program (visiting school/youth groups).
  • Assist with outreach opportunities such as festivals, community events, career fairs, talks at RV parks etc.
  • May do roving interpretation as time permits
  • If driving tour vehicle, must meet driving requirements (see above).

 

Degree of difficulty:  Average with minimal physical demand. During peak season (December-March), it may require standing and/or talking for longer periods of time.

Tram Driver  (60 passenger, 2 car vehicle with pintel hook trailer connection, ramp for wheelchair access)

  • Must have a commercial Driver's License (CDL A or B) with passenger endorsement for 24+ passengers
  • Must have a certificate showing satisfactory completion of a Defensive Driving Course within the last twelve (12) months, or take the test upon arrival.
  • Must have passed a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) qualified physical for commercial transportation operators within the previous twenty-four (24) month period.
  • Must have no more than two (2) moving violations or accidents within the last three (3) years.
  • Must have passed an initial pre-employment FTA-approved drug test and continue to pass random drug and alcohol tests.
  • Tours are 3 hours each.  Schedule will vary.
  • Clean and prepare tram (or bus in inclement weather) for tours daily
  • Perform minor maintenance of tram and report major maintenance needs to Refuge staff
  • Assist with loading and unloading passengers
  • Ensure safety of passengers at all times
  • Other maintenance duties such as sweeping sidewalks, cleaning windows, etc (ie. rainy day, no ticket sales)

 

Degree of difficulty:  Average with minimal physical demand, reaching and stooping to clean vehicles. Long periods of sitting. 

 

 

Hunt Check Station  - staffs the Hunt Check Station.  Training on procedures and hunting regulations provided. 

  • Prepare signs, gates, and check station equipment and supplies prior to each hunt
  • Answer hunter’s questions about refuge hunts
  • Check harvested game (white-tailed deer, nilgai antelope and feral hogs) to include weighing, aging, species and gender identification.  This may entail contact with blood, ticks and fleas.
  • Communicate with and Dispatch Law Enforcement as necessary
  • Hunts occur between mid-November and mid-January and include 3 archery seasons and 5 firearm seasons
  • Days and hours will vary (Check Station open 8 am – 8 pm during hunts)

 

Degree of difficulty:  Can be physically demanding -- Heavy lifting required; often working outdoors in remote areas with potential for extreme heat and insects (i.e. ticks, fleas and chiggers).

 

 

Short-term Volunteer Opportunities – for Local Volunteers

  • Assist with annual Christmas bird counts – bird identification skills required (scheduled in Dec/Jan)
  • Assist with periodic nighttime spotlight surveys for mammals (scheduled before and after hunts)
  • Special Events –
    • Rio Reforestation – scheduled each fall, the public is invited to help plant seedlings for reforestation
    • National Public Lands Day – generally the last Saturday in September, the refuge has a litter pick-up day

 

Degree of difficulty:  Can be physically demanding -- some lifting required; bending, often working outdoors in remote areas with potential for extreme heat, venomous snakes and insects (i.e. ticks and chiggers).


Campground Host - Adolph Thomae County Park, Arroyo city

Located in deep, south Texas, this 100,000 acre national wildlife refuge houses the Adolph Thomae Jr. County Park, operated by Cameron County.  The park has 35 RV camping sites, a tent camping area, two lighted fishing piers on the brackish Arroyo Colorado, three restroom/shower facilities, a nature trail, observation tower, a boat ramp with two slips and two picnic areas. It is also a great birdwatching area in Texas' lower Rio Grande Valley.  As the main boat entrance to the lower Laguna Madre, a hypersaline lagoon well-known for it's saltwater fishing opportunities including red drum, speckled trout and flounder, this is a busy park.  The refuge and county partner to create these recreational opportunities for the public. Campground hosts are needed to assist park staff with light maintenance including emptying trash cans, litter pick up, restroom cleaning and stocking, weedeating, campsite clean up. closing and locking gates and general visitor information.  A furnished one bedroom apartment is provided. Parking available for a boat.  Personal vehicle required for personal needs.  No RV parking currently available. A 3 month minimum commitment is required.  Position available year-round.

Degree of difficulty:  Can be physically demanding -- Moderate lifting required; often working outdoors in remote areas with potential for extreme heat and insects (i.e. ticks, fleas and chiggers).

 

Kayak Tour Guide  (not available in 2016 due to construction)

 

Valid certification in CPR/AED/First Aid for adult/child is required.

 

Responsibilities:

Work in a safe manner and follow all established protocols to insure the safety of yourself, your fellow workers and the public.

Assist with all operations of the Kayak the Laguna Madre Tour including preparing equipment, unloading and boat set-up, tour interpretation, loading and securing equipment, instructing participants, cleaning and storing equipment.

Provide exemplary customer service and be a role model for the refuge.

Know and convey the Refuge’s conservation mission to the public.

Follow the guidelines and manual provided.

Participate in at least 2 tours per month during the main kayak tour season (June – August), extended season September/October.

 

Training Requirements:

Kayak Guide Training – full day, review kayak tour manual, safety protocols, on the water experience

CPR/AED/First Aid certification (volunteer responsible for doing this on their own – can be a class or on-line training)

Defensive Driving Course (National Safety Council)  - optional, but required to drive GOV vehicles

 

Note:   New Volunteers will assist experienced volunteers and staff until they feel comfortable taking on the various parts of the program and until all training requirements are complete.

 

Degree of difficulty:  Can be physically demanding -- lifting up to 80 lbs kayaks above the shoulders with another person, climbing, stooping, bending, kneeling, standing, paddling in winds up to 20 mph, walking in water and mud are required; working outdoors in remote areas in hot, humid conditions, with potential for extreme heat, insects (i.e. bees, ticks and chiggers) and other potentially hazardous wildlife including rattlesnakes, jellyfish and stingrays.


How to apply:
Contact the volunteer coordinator at (956)748-3607 or check online at www.volunteer.gov to learn more about or apply for volunteer and intern opportunities at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Applications are accepted year-round.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is located on the coast of deep South Texas. The resort area of South Padre Island is 20 miles southeast of the refuge and offers sandy beaches, shopping, gas stations, restaurants and entertainment. The City of Harlingen is about 25 miles west of the refuge and has restaurants, shopping, RV service centers, and other amenities. There are many other nature-oriented destinations in the area.

Page Photo Credits — Common moorehen / Steve Sinclair ©
Last Updated: May 22, 2016
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