Pitch In — and Plug In Free
|A volunteer uses radio telemetry to track an animal at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. In return for a month or more of their labor, many refuges offer volunteers free housing or use of an RV pad.|
|Credit: Steve Hillebrand|
Want to learn to drive a tractor, map invasive plants with a GPS unit or greet refuge visitors? Almost 40 national wildlife refuges offer volunteer opportunities to people willing to live on the refuge for a month or more. In return, resident volunteers often receive free housing or parking for their recreational vehicles plus ample time for birdwatching, hiking and other outdoor pursuits.
Resident volunteers generally have the use of a free RV pad at the refuge, typically with electricity and other amenities. Some refuges have bunkhouses or cabins available for volunteers. Work requirements vary. Volunteer opportunities on some refuges book up a year in advance.
Among the national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts offering volunteer opportunities are the following:
- Arizona – Kofa, San Bernardino
- Colorado – Alamosa, Baca, Browns Park, Monte Vista
- Florida – Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee
- Illinois – Crab Orchard, Illinois River
- Louisiana – Cameron Prairie, Sabine, Tensas River
- Minnesota – Cypress Creek, Minnesota Valley, Rydell, Tamarac, Two Rivers
- Mississippi – Dahomey, Morgan Brake, Yazoo
- Missouri – Swan Lake, Mingo, Squaw Creek
- Montana – Lee Metcalf
- Nebraska – Fort Niobrara, Valentine
- New Mexico – Maxwell, Sevilleta
- Oklahoma – Ozark Plateau, Salt Plains, Washita
- Oregon – Cape Meares, Oregon Islands, William L. Finley
- South Dakota - Huron and Madison Wetland Madison Districts
- Washington – Ridgefield, Turnbull
- Wisconsin – Horicon, Necedah
For a complete list, visit http://www.fws.gov/volunteers/volOpps.html.