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SELA Refuges Programs

Volunteer and Intern Programs

The Southeast Louisiana Refuges depends on volunteers to support many of our activities. School tours, maintenance, administration and most other aspects of our work involve help from volunteers. We value the time they contribute and their initiative and enjoy their company, too.

To see a description of the various programs on this page, click on a link, below.


RV Volunteers

Local Volunteers


We are currently soliciting a 12-week environmental education intern. Fall time frame is mid-September through mid-December. There is a possibility of another 12-week extension of the internship starting mid-February through mid-May, contingent upon successful completion of 12-week fall internship. This would allow for a two month break over the holidays.

This internship is tailored for an individual interested in learning about and exploring careers within the field of visitor services and education with federal, state, or private parks, refuges, nature centers, and similar facilities. Successful completion of this internship will provide skills and experience useful in pursuing these types of career options.

Duties: Deliver formal environmental education programs on the refuges and in area classrooms (50%); lead public canoe and natural history tours (20%); develop educational and interpretation programs for students and/or general public (15%); staff visitor center (10%); and prepare for and staff special outreach events on the refuges and in the community (5%).

On site environmental education programs take place at specifically designated educational sites throughout the refuges and are delivered as part of a three person team. These programs last between three and four hours. The goal of these programs is to immerse students in the refuge and its resources. Classroom programs usually last an hour and are delivered by one person. On occasion two people may present classroom programs if we schedule many programs back to back at the same school. We currently offer three on-site refuge programs and five classroom programs.

Visitor center duties may include: greet visitors, provide refuge and local information, answer telephones, answer visitor questions, respond to visitor correspondences, distribute brochures, visitor center sales, stock bookstore supplies and brochures and operate some audio/visual equipment.

Canoeing tours take place on Saturdays during the spring and fall on a slow moving local bayou. An interpretative program is already developed which the intern will present to the public during five stops from the landing till the turn around point of Lake Pontchartrain.

Applicants should be willing to do strenuous work outdoors under extreme weather conditions. Transportation on the job will be provided; however, interns must provide daily transportation to and from work. A valid drivers license is required.

Photo of an  intern in a canoe doing a biological survey
© Bob Werner

Training Provided
Self- paced Meaningful Interpretation course; US Fish and Wildlife Service computer policy training; intern will shadow Park Rangers on EE programs and interpretative canoe tours until they become familiar with the material; canoe trailer practice and canoeing basics can be taught as needed.

Educational/Recreational Opportunities
New Orleans is 45 minutes away and offers a variety of cultural and culinary delights.

Work Days and Pay
Intern will work five consecutive days per week, with two days off. Schedule to be determined upon arrival and based on need. Usual schedule is Tuesday through Saturday 8:00 am till 4:30 pm.

A $20/work day stipend will be paid. This amounts to $100/week.

Skills Required
Intern should have good communication skills; an interest in and ability to learn about area history and natural resources; a desire to share knowledge with visiting public and work with others, including children; good people skills; desire to conduct informal education programs; valid driver’s license; and ability and willingness to undergo a required criminal history background check.

Skills Desired
Experience with public speaking and designing and leading environmental education activities is beneficial, but not necessary. Training is provided in interpretive techniques to effectively present information to visitors. Flexibility to handle variations in routine due to shifting priorities and visitor needs is appreciated. This position will provide a motivated person the opportunity to spread his/her appreciation of the natural world to many refuge visitors.

The Refuge Complex headquarters is located in Lacombe, Louisiana. The site is located off exit #74 off I-12 between Mandeville and Slidell, Louisiana. It is approximately 45 minutes from New Orleans and three hours from Pensacola, Florida. Refuges administered: Atchafalaya NWR, Bayou Sauvage NWR, Big Branch Marsh NWR, Bogue Chitto NWR, Breton NWR, Delta NWR Bayou Teche NWR and Mandalay NWR.

Description of Housing
Housing is bunkhouse with 3 bedrooms, large kitchen and living area. There are laundry facilities on site. The bunkhouse is located on a beautifully wooded 110 acres with a rich history as a formal gardens, priest seminary and boy's school. The site is now owned and operated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, as the headquarters for eight National Wildlife Refuges throughout southeast Louisiana.

To download an application, please click here. In addition to the application, please have three references fill out the reference form located here. Send completed applications and forms to the address below.

To request a mailed application or for more Information, please contact:

Volunteer Coordinator, Environmental Education Interns
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
61389 Hwy 434
Lacombe, Louisiana 70445
or call 985-882-2000

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RV Volunteers

Photo of RVs in the volunteer's RV park
Tom Carlisle

Living at the refuge and working there three days a week is a wonderful way to experience what the refuge is all about. It is only open to those volunteer candidates who own their own self-contained recreational vehicle. Volunteers commit to work at the refuge 24 hours per person per week for couples or 32 hours per week for individuals, for a minimum of thirty days.

In exchange for their services, the refuge provides a full hook-up RV pad plus access to garbage and laundry facilities. Volunteers perform work in the same area of operations as do our general staff, i.e. operation and maintenance, visitor services, environmental education and resource management. Often though, these volunteers take on a complex task and take it from an idea to completion.

We accept applications for resident volunteers year-round, but the winter months are much more popular.

To request an application or for more information, please contact:

Volunteer Coordinator, RV Volunteers
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
61389 Hwy 434
Lacombe, Louisiana 70445
or call 985-882-2000

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Local Volunteers

This group of volunteers are the backbone of our operation. They help us maintain the grounds, give educational tours, perform maintenance, run the visitor center and many more things.

Photo of volunteers in the headquarters gardens during a Saturday work detail
© Tom Carlisle

Local volunteers may come everyday, once a week or only for a special event once a year.  Many of the things the refuge does would not happen if it were not for this corps of volunteers.

Volunteer tasks include; carpentry for nest box and interpretive display construction and installation, grounds and garden maintenance, litter control, habitat restoration, environmental education, visitor center operation, administrative, assistance, boardwalk repair, boardwalk construction, leading weekend tours and planning and staffing special events.

To request an application or for more information, please contact:

Volunteer Coordinator, Local Volunteers
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
61389 Hwy 434
Lacombe, Louisiana 70445
or call 985-882-2000

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Last Updated on July 12, 2011