Get Involved


From its start in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has owed its very existence to concerned citizens eager to protect America's natural resources.



The refuge utilizes volunteers year-round.  Below are the position descriptions.  To apply, visit or email a resume to the volunteer coordinator,




Resident Volunteers


  • 3 month minimum commitment
  • Each volunteer contributes 24 hours per week
  • Provide own RV
  • Responsible for keeping their RV site and Volunteer Communal Areas clean and safe.
  • Flexibility 


  • Cement RV pad with full hook-ups for electric (30 and 50 amp), water, sewer, wifi
  • Adolph Thomae County Park volunteers – provided with a furnished apartment, boat parking
  • A sense of accomplishment, learning about a new place, new skills
  • Certificate and Volunteer Awards based on hours
  • Living among nature and wildlife


Local Volunteers


  • Commit to a minimum of two shifts per month (shifts to be mutually agreed upon between volunteer and their supervisor)
  • Provide own transportation to and from the refuge
  • Specific requirements depending on position
  • Must be at least 18 years old


  • A sense of accomplishment, learning about a new place, new skills
  • With 250 hours contributed per year, earn a Volunteer Pass for FREE entry to National Public Lands for a year
  • Certificate and Volunteer Awards based on hours





Position Descriptions 

Maintenance Volunteer:

Assist maintenance staff with day-to-day maintenance and/or special projects or tasks.

Work in a safe manner to insure the safety of yourself, your fellow workers and the general public.


Examples of Work Projects:

Minor plumbing repairs, washing & waxing vehicles, minor vehicle and equipment maintenance, interior and exterior painting, cleaning buildings and restrooms, mowing grass, tree trimming, trail maintenance, minor electrical repairs, clearing brush, roofing repairs, operation of weed whips, minor carpentry projects, digging, weed control, minor concrete projects, welding projects, sign installation, janitorial duties, litter pickup, collect and empty trash and recyclables, operate hand and power tools, facility construction, and other tasks as assigned.


Equipment Operation:

Operation of mowers, weed whips, power tools, etc. requires initial training by a refuge staff person

Note: to operate equipment such as utility vehicles, agricultural tractors, backhoes, skid steer loaders, forklifts, crawlers, graders, chain saws, pole saws, etc., the Fish and Wildlife Service must certify volunteers with completion of online and hands-on training. Classes are scheduled on an as needed basis.

Degree of difficulty:  Can be physically demanding -- Heavy lifting, stooping, bending, kneeling, standing, and ladder use is required; often working outdoors in remote areas with potential for extreme heat, venomous snakes and insects (i.e. ticks and chiggers).


Administrative Volunteer: 

Will assist refuge managers and biologists with:

  • Copying/Faxing/Filing/Shredding documents
  • Answering phones and directing calls
  • Greeting guests at the refuge office
  • Mailing/Fed Ex
  • Assisting with errands on the refuge and/or picking up supplies in town.
  • Maintaining inventory of clerical supplies
  • Cleaning/organizing equipment, files, etc.
  • Sweeping/cleaning/mopping offices and bathrooms


Degree of difficulty:  Average with minimal physical demand.  Possibly long periods of sitting. May require lifting, bending, walking and standing. 


Visitor Services:

Must enjoy and be able to interact with people of all ages and from diverse backgrounds. Volunteers who are flexible and have positive attitudes typically have excellent experiences working in the visitor services program. 


Visitor Center Operation -Training is provided to teach volunteers refuge rules, regulations, and operating procedures.

Greet and provide information to the visiting public.

Collect entrance and tour fees.  Sell Federal entrance passes.  Operate cash register.

Close out register at end of day and complete financial report.

Register participants for and provide information about our programs

Operate visitor center, including: open/close center; stocking bird feeders;  answering phones;  maintaining/cleaning interior and exterior public areas to include restroom facilities.

Steve Thompson Wildlife Drive fee collector (collect entrance fee and give information for up to 2 hours at the Bayside Drive entrance) – involves standing outside

Operate Audio/Visual equipment.


Degree of difficulty:  Average with minimal physical demand. During peak season (December-March), it may require standing and/or talking for longer periods of time.

Environmental Education - The Environmental Education Volunteer conducts and develops science-based lesson on and off site.

Duties Include:

Developing educational content for the Laguna Atascosa EE program

Conducting lessons twice a day in schools and libraries

Assisting Visitor Services with seasonal programming

Staffing outreach events

Degree of difficulty: Average with minimal physical demand, may require long periods of sitting and computer works.


Hunt Check Station - staffs the Hunt Check Station.  Training on procedures and hunting regulations provided. 

  • Prepare signs, gates, and check station equipment and supplies prior to each hunt
  • Answer hunter’s questions about refuge hunts
  • Check harvested game (white-tailed deer, nilgai antelope and feral hogs) to include weighing, aging, species and gender identification.  This may entail contact with blood, ticks and fleas.
  • Communicate with and Dispatch Law Enforcement as necessary
  • Hunts occur between mid-November and mid-January and include 3 archery seasons and 5 firearm seasons
  • Days and hours will vary (Check Station open 8 am – 8 pm during hunts)


Degree of difficulty:  Can be physically demanding -- Heavy lifting required; often working outdoors in remote areas with potential for extreme heat and insects (i.e. ticks, fleas and chiggers).



Short-term Volunteer Opportunities – for Local Volunteers

  • Assist with annual Christmas bird counts – bird identification skills required (scheduled in Dec/Jan)
  • Assist with periodic nighttime spotlight surveys for mammals (scheduled before and after hunts)
  • Special Events –
    • Rio Reforestation – scheduled each fall, the public is invited to help plant seedlings for reforestation
    • National Public Lands Day – generally the last Saturday in September, the refuge has a litter pick-up day


Degree of difficulty:  Can be physically demanding -- some lifting required; bending, often working outdoors in remote areas with potential for extreme heat, venomous snakes and insects (i.e. ticks and chiggers).

Campground Host - Adolph Thomae County Park, Arroyo city

Located in deep, south Texas, this 100,000 acre national wildlife refuge houses the Adolph Thomae Jr. County Park, operated by Cameron County.  The park has 35 RV camping sites, a tent camping area, two lighted fishing piers on the brackish Arroyo Colorado, three restroom/shower facilities, a nature trail, observation tower, a boat ramp with two slips and two picnic areas. It is also a great birdwatching area in Texas' lower Rio Grande Valley.  As the main boat entrance to the lower Laguna Madre, a hypersaline lagoon well-known for it's saltwater fishing opportunities including red drum, speckled trout and flounder, this is a busy park.  The refuge and county partner to create these recreational opportunities for the public. Campground hosts are needed to assist park staff with light maintenance including emptying trash cans, litter pick up, restroom cleaning and stocking, weedeating, campsite clean up. closing and locking gates and general visitor information.  A furnished one bedroom apartment is provided. Parking available for a boat.  Personal vehicle required for personal needs.  No RV parking currently available. A 3 month minimum commitment is required.  Position available year-round.

Degree of difficulty:  Can be physically demanding -- Moderate lifting required; often working outdoors in remote areas with potential for extreme heat and insects (i.e. ticks, fleas and chiggers).



How to apply:
Contact the volunteer coordinator at (956)244-2019 or check online at to learn more about or apply for volunteer and intern opportunities at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Applications are accepted year-round.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is located on the coast of deep South Texas. The resort area of South Padre Island is 20 miles southeast of the refuge and offers sandy beaches, shopping, gas stations, restaurants and entertainment. The City of Harlingen is about 25 miles west of the refuge and has restaurants, shopping, RV service centers, and other amenities. There are many other nature-oriented destinations in the area.