The first national wildlife refuge was established in 1903 as a result of concerned citizens. Volunteers continue to create major impacts on refuges around the country over 110 years later. Whether working directly with refuge staff or as a member of the over 200 refuge Friends organizations, supportive citizens keep refuges running.
At Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, volunteers help with biological programs such as “nest-sitting” with loggerhead sea turtle nests, waiting for hatchlings to emerge. Volunteers also form an important part of the Refuge Visitor Services program, greeting the public and providing information in our Visitor Contact Station and Entrance Station. Trail maintenance and construction projects would not be possible without the help of dedicated volunteers who keep the trails maintained and weeds, poison ivy and branches away from the walkways. Several special volunteer days are also held throughout the year to clean up refuge beach. If you are interested in volunteering please contact the Visitor Services Specialist at (757)301-7329. Opportunities are often seasonal in nature.
CURRENT OPPORTUNITIES***ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: Every year over 2,000 children visit the refuge and participate in a variety of outdoor education programs. We are searching for enthusiastic volunteers to help us provide high quality education programs to these young visitors. Please contact Erica Ryder (number and email below) for more information. A training will be held on Saturday, March 18 from 1:00pm-4:00pm. Please RSVP to Erica Ryder.
***BIOLOGY SUPPORT: Our biology team is searching for volunteers interested in a range of activities, including invasive species mapping, assistance with bird surveys, bee surveys and vegetation surveys. Most of these activities are seasonal in nature, with the exception of bird surveys, they are conducted all year long. For more information about biology programs please contact Refuge Biologist Lauren Mowbray at Lauren_Mowbray@fws.gov.
***FRONT DESK: The reception desk of the Visitor Contact Station is the face of the refuge. Our reception volunteers are key to greeting, orienting and providing basic information to visitors. This is a great way to stay connected! Training is provided. Assistance is currently needed at the Refuge Headquarters building on Sandbridge Road.
***TRAIL MAINTENANCE: The third Wednesday of every month is a Trail Maintenance Day! Come join our team as we beautify our hiking trails, using scientific techniques to keep our trails healthy, safe and aesthetically pleasing.
***BEACH CLEANUPS: Every year we host two community beach cleanups. The first Saturday of June is Clean the Bay Day and the last Saturday in September is National Public Lands Day. Be sure to call us to sign up for one of these events. Volunteer groups can also sign up for beach cleanups at any time of the year. We welcome your help!
Volunteer Agreement Form (can be filled out before arriving for a volunteer event)
Please contact Erica Ryder at Erica_Ryder@fws.gov or call (757)301-7329 ext.3106 for more information about any of these opportunities.
Back Bay Restoration Foundation (BBRF) has supported Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge since its inception in 1986. The mission of BBRF is to preserve, protect and improve Back Bay and its watershed through stewardship, education and outreach. The Blue Goose Express, a guided tour through the Refuge and False Cape State Park, is run by BBRF volunteers. Additionally, educational programs are co-hosted by BBRF and Back Bay NWR. Many volunteers participate in activities for both organizations, striving to improve and protect the Refuge and the Back Bay watershed as a whole. Please visit www.bbrf.org for more information.
***VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!!BBRF is currently searching for all those interested in driving and interpreting the Blue Goose Express. Driving the tram is a unique opportunity to visit the refuge and False Cape State Park and to share all the beauty and history of these areas with the public. Schedules are flexible and training is provided. For more information please visit www.bbrf.org or contact Pat Leary at PLeary@cox.net.
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American bitterns are year-round inhabitants of Virginia Beach and members of the heron family. These birds are typically very shy and secretive, hiding among reeds and grasses along the edges of lakes and bays. There are a few very friendly bitterns at Back Bay though, so keep your eyes peeled and camera ready next time you are in the area. Their camouflage is excellent so we must be attentive to detail to spot these beautiful birds.