MARSH! – The Montezuma Alliance for the Restoration of Species and Habitats is part of a larger effort to restore, protect, and enhance wildlife habitat on nearly 50,000 acres in the Montezuma Wetlands Complex. We formed this volunteer program to support the habitat restoration efforts of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Montezuma Audubon Center and other partners at Montezuma. This group works on controlling invasive species in grassland, shrubland, forest, marsh and river. The work is hands-on as we cut and pull invasive species, collect native seeds, and replant with natives that will be more beneficial to wildlife & less harmful to Montezuma habitats overall!
Visitor Center/Nature Store
If you are a people-person, then you will love volunteering at the Visitor Center and/or the Lodge Nature Store. Greet visitors and orient them to all the refuge has to offer. The Visitor Center and Store are open mid-March through November. Each person is trained by refuge staff and gets on-the-job training with long-time, expert volunteers.
You are welcome to volunteer once per month to once or twice per week; the choice is yours! We are particularly looking for weekend volunteers, but there may be weekday options available. The visitor center and nature store shifts run 10:00AM to 3:00PM on weekdays, and 10:00AM to 4:00PM on weekends.
Some knowledge of birds and wildlife is helpful, but not necessary. You will learn something new every time you volunteer, guaranteed!
Family Nature Club Lead
We are seeking a nature-loving or nature-curious family to be the lead family for the Family Nature Club at the refuge. The lead family will develop and lead nature-inspired activities once a month and encourage participation by other families. The lead family will train with refuge staff and will eventually be responsible for holding the activities on or off the refuge. Interested, but want to share the experience? Contact us. The more the merrier!
Winter Raptor Surveys
Train with refuge biologists and experienced volunteers to survey raptors (hawks, eagles, falcons, owls, etc.) once a week during the winter months. Over the winter, raptors migrate through or spend the time until spring, on the Montezuma Wetlands Complex. Refuge biologists gather a team of volunteers to find out just what species are here and what areas/habitats they are using. Each week (volunteer every week or just a few weeks), travel by car to a designated survey point. Spend an hour watching the skies and surrounding area for birds. Don’t know your raptors? That’s OK! We’ll send you out to survey, paired with someone who does.
Other Volunteer Opportunities
Over time, as refuge needs for volunteer assistance change, so do the volunteer opportunities. In 2012 and 2013, a cadre of volunteers helped us survey frog and toad species breeding on the refuge. Volunteers have helped us immensely to survey grassland and shrubland birds. Upcoming plans involve training volunteers to survey marsh-breeding birds. Here are some other ways to volunteer:
Rove the refuge, greeting visitors and letting them know where to go for the best wildlife viewing. Or lead a program (a hike, a birding venture, a talk) about nature.
Work with visiting school groups to provide programs meeting their needs. Assist with the refuge’s summer program for youth.
The refuge hosts two or more special events each year. Assist refuge staff or take lead to plan and implement an event.
Help keep our grounds and facilities appealing and safe for visitors. Assist refuge staff in the field by mowing and/or operating heavy equipment (experience necessary, refuge-required training provided)
Volunteer to take photographs at refuge events and program and of staff and other volunteers at work in the fields. Share your wildlife and habitat photos with us for use in our publications (credit always given to the photographer).
Social Media Coordinator
Set up and maintain a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and/or Instagram, etc. for the refuge. Knowledge and skills of Social Media tools required. Refuge-specific training provided.
Follow Us Online
Today, Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge boasts six active bald eagle nests. The infamous trio's nest can be viewed from Armitage Road, located off of NY State Route 89. The trio has nested on the refuge since 1987; the two males are from a reintroduction program conducted in the late 1970s.