Resident Volunteers... or "RV's" are volunteers who provide their own "homes" (usually in the form or some sort of recreational vehicle, ranging from a fifth wheel with slides to a pop-up camper or a van). The agency (or host) provides a variety of support amenities, usually including a pad with septic, water, and electricity hook-ups. The volunteers set up "housing-keeping" on the refuge or hatchery for a pre-determined length of time and contribute a predetermined number of hours of volunteer service each week.
Many RV's started out working in campgrounds- either private or US Forest Service campgrounds. That makes sense; there certainly would have been camping pads available at those locations. And, we've found that some volunteers really prefer the repetition and consistency of mowing grass on set schedule or running the "check-in" desk on assigned days-- jobs common in campgrounds.
But, folks that love working on refuges specifically cite the "invaluable/unique" experience of working/learning/doing/on a refuge" and call it an "incomparable experience"! These folks seem to appreciate the "irregularity" of a lot of the work! They enjoy getting to know what we refer to as the "refuge family", and they love working side-by-side with our staff. And, they love "playing" on the refuges when they're not working!
It's a win-win situation. RV's have a beautiful place to live for a period of time and are able to explore and experience the refuge or hatchery and the local area. And, the refuge or hatchery gains valuable volunteer assistance.
One very exciting thing about working in a larger agency (FWS is small by agency standards, but it is a federal agency!) is the networking. Once folks get started in refuges, they tend to want to move to other refuges. And, we have the contacts and communications to help make that happen.
One of the main goals for establishing this web site is to facilitate that network--- we want to help refuges and hatcheries that need resident volunteers and the resident volunteers "find" each other!