Share a Wild Experience! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Complex needs YOU - your talents, your enthusiasm, and some of your time! If you enjoy working with people and appreciate and are concerned about our nation's natural resources, our volunteer program may interest you.

The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Complex is made up of Nisqually NWR, Grays Harbor NWR, and the Black River Unit of Nisqually NWR. Refuge managers work to protect, manage, and restore habitat on these refuges for migratory birds including shorebirds and waterfowl, and for threatened and endangered species. Wildlife-dependent recreation and environmental education are also part of the management efforts on these refuges.

What do volunteers do?

Various opportunities exist at the Refuge Complex for the volunteer to gain valuable and rewarding experience. Volunteers assist Refuge personnel in achieving management goals by assisting in:


At Nisqually NWR, volunteers staff the Visitor Center, provide information on recreational and educational opportunities, and sell items from the bookstore. They assist in planning and participate in special events such as National Wildlife Refuge Week. Through nature walks and slide programs, volunteers help visitors understand and appreciate both the natural and human history of the refuges. Volunteers also rove Refuge trails to talk to visitors, note vandalism, and identify maintenance needs.

Environmental Education 

Volunteers give educational programs to school groups, assist with field trips and teacher orientation workshops, and help with special projects.

Resource Management 

Qualified volunteers may assist Refuge biologists with wildlife surveys, habitat restoration, invasive species management and bird banding.


Volunteers may help Refuge employees in general tasks including sign installation, painting, small construction, and routine equipment maintenance. Also, opportunities sometimes exist in more specialized areas for those with skills such as plumbing and carpentry.

Special Projects 

Volunteers may work independently or under general supervision in the areas of photography, journalism, photo and specimen collections, typing, and other administrative work.

Where Do Volunteers Work?

While most volunteers work at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge east of Olympia, volunteers are also needed at Grays Harbor NWR in Hoquiam and the Black River Unit, located about 5 miles southwest of Olympia.

When Do Volunteers Work?

The Refuge Complex needs volunteer service 7 days each week. Working hours extend through daylight hours, but some evening meetings, training, and orientation may be required.

Why Do People Become Volunteers?

Volunteers realize various benefits from working at the Refuge. Being involved with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency dedicated to the principle of conservation, is both satisfying and rewarding. Others find the duties fulfilling and challenging as old talents are employed and new skills are acquired. To most, however, the motive is enjoyment, as volunteer work can be just plain fun!

Who May Apply?

Our volunteer program is open to everyone. Those under 18 years of age, however, do need written permission from a parent or guardian.

How Do You Become a Refuge Volunteer?

To become a Refuge volunteer, you must fill out a volunteer application and submit it to the Refuge. Staff will review applications on a case by case basis. If you have unique skills needed by the Refuge, you will be contacted for an interview. Refuge Volunteers must work a minimum of 8 hours per month for a 1 year minimum commitment. Volunteers are required to contribute to the cost of a uniform. Apply by filling out the two-page Volunteer Application (If needed, you may download Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing pdf files) and sending it to:

Volunteer Program Coordinator
Nisqually NWR Complex
100 Brown Farm Road
Olympia, WA 98516