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Volunteer Opportunities

The following is a list of current volunteer projects on the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Work camper volunteer

The Refuge has a house or an RV pad where volunteers may reside while providing volunteer service. Duties vary depending on the Refuge’s needs. Typical needs include staffing the visitor center, performance of light maintenance (mowing, trail work), assisting with special events (preparing and staffing), and helping with clerical support (assist with bulk mailing, flyer production, etc.). Every effort is made to match the volunteers' talent with appropriate duties. Volunteers must contribute three seven-hour days per week in exchange for lodging and utilities. Those using the RV pad may use the laundry room that is in the house. Use of common areas in the house (laundry room, kitchen, living room, bathroom, etc.) comes with a responsibility to care for it and keep it clean for all.  

Forest restoration project

Tree planting days are schedule for April and September. These events focus on the Refuge's efforts to restore some of its beautiful, biologically important, high elevation forests. Balsam fir and red spruce are typically planted. An orientation to the day starts with a discussion of the historic role of this forest, and why the Refuge and partner organizations are working to restore it. Then we will carpool to the work site and plant some trees! More volunteer hands are always welcome. 

Wild School assistance

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge hosts sixth-grade students from local schools at an annual environmental education event called Wild School. Usually held during the third week in September, the event is themed around Refuge resources, like red spruce and wetlands ecosystems. This event takes lots of effort and talent. We look for volunteers to help with:

  • Logistics - help us set up and tear down
  • Station instructors and assistants
  • Group escorts
  • Timekeepers
  • Photographer

Visitor Center attendant

The Refuge Visitor Center at 6263 Appalachian Highway is usually the first stop on our visitor's trip. We offer general orientation to the area, can show a 10 minute orientation film about Canaan Valley NWR, give out brochures, encourage the use of interactive exhibits and kids activities, and provide information about the Refuge. The Friends of the 500th also operate a bookstore/gift shop located within the Visitor Center. If you like interacting with the public we encourage you to volunteer at the Visitor Center a half-day or entire day, several days a month. Training will be provided.  

Adopt-a-Highway program helper

The Refuge periodically cleans trash from an adopted two-mile stretch of highway along Route 32 in front of our administrative offices and Visitor Center. These cleanups are held in the mornings and typically take less than a day to complete. Volunteers are needed to assist staff in this effort. Some walking is required. Gloves and reflective vests are provided to volunteers. 

Refuge wildlife identification book photographers

Volunteers would be equipped with a camera to photograph flowering plants on the Refuge. Photos would be edited by volunteers and printed at the Refuge office. Flowers can be organized by color or other key features. Book will be displayed at Visitor Center. 

General Refuge photography

The Refuge needs photos of wildlife observation areas, overlooks, scenic views, visitor walking trails, etc. Images of our local flora and fauna are welcomed. We also periodically need event photographers who are comfortable taking photos of people. Photographs are used for print publications and reports, for interpretive products, to inform visitors about events, and for social media applications.  

Digital image scanning

The Refuge has an extensive collection of photographs of landscapes, wildlife, historic images, public use, etc. subject. Volunteer help is needed to organize, summarize, and catalog these images into a searchable database. Training will be provided. 

Mount and label herbarium specimens

The Refuge has a backlog of pressed plants that need to be properly mounted and labeled for permanent storage in our herbarium. Volunteers with some plant identification skills are preferred, although most plants are already identified. Once mounted each plant must be entered into a database to track the Refuge herbarium collection. 

Water quality monitor

Volunteers are needed to monitor water quality testing sites on a regular basis. We need volunteers who can follow a predetermined protocol and are comfortable in using basic scientific monitoring instruments. Training will be provided.

Interpretive and program guides and presenters

Do you have some specialized knowledge of an aspect of the natural environment (i.e. birds, wildflowers, nature photography, etc.) that relates to the Refuge setting? We need interpretive guides who can organize walks or deliver interpretive programs as part of our regular series of events. See the Events section of this website for examples of the programs offered at Canaan Valley NWR. 

Special event volunteer

Special event volunteers help with traveling exhibits, special events or outreach, both on and off the Refuge. Candidates should enjoy talking to people and present a clean and neat appearance. Volunteers will help visitors enjoy and learn from interactive exhibits, provide refuge information, and help with logistics. 

Environmental education volunteer

Are you interested in working with kids? Sharing what you know about nature? Volunteers help with planning, logistics, and delivery of field trips for school children, scouts, church groups, etc.  

Maintenance volunteer

Volunteers work with maintenance staff to keep facilities and equipment in good working order. Mowing and trail work may also be involved. 


Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency in the Department of the Interior, for the people of the United States as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Service is the principal agency through which the federal government carries out its responsibilities to conserve, protect and enhance the nation’s fish, wildlife and plant resources. The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is “to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.”

Last Updated: Dec 23, 2014
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