Palmyra Volunteer Announcement

Palmyra Volunteers 512x416

 We need you! We are looking for a few good volunteers to work on Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge!

Position - Four Month Rainforest Realignment Volunteer

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is seeking five volunteers available from approximately May 20th to September 30th, 2020, to participate in a rainforest realignment project at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Volunteers will be in Honolulu for training for a week before hand, and then deployed to Palmyra Atoll around May 27th for approximately 4-months. Some volunteers may have the opportunity to be flown to Nevada for small boat operation training before hand, the week of May 10th.

Dates: May 20th, 2020 to September 30th, 2020

Last Date to Apply: March 16, 2020

About Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

Palmyra Atoll is located in the central Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 miles south of Hawaii. Palmyra is a thickly vegetated set of islands with abundant rainfall; hot, humid temperatures; and rustic living conditions. It is uninhabited except for a small crew who manage The Nature Conservancy’s Climate Adaptation + Resilience Laboratory and Service personnel who manage the refuge resources. Volunteers will have the rare opportunity to live in this remote setting surrounded by rainforest, seabirds, land crabs and rich coral reefs.

Duties and Responsibilities:

Volunteers will work 8-hours a day 6-days a week for the entire ~4 months on Palmyra without any chance of leaving the atoll. Volunteers will spend over half of the work hours controlling an invasive palm using both manual techniques and herbicide applications. The work is extremely strenuous and requires crewmembers to be in excellent physical condition to cope with repetitive stooping, swinging and hauling in hot and extremely humid conditions.

Approximately 16 work hours of each week will consist of a variety of other biological conservation tasks such as native tree propagation and outplanting and monitoring of seabirds, shorebirds, sea turtles, and starfish. Volunteers must be able to swim, snorkel and work from a boat. Volunteers will be responsible for data management and report writing, as well as the cleaning, maintenance, and repair work needed to keep equipment running in a remote tropical environment.

All volunteers are part of the atoll community and work hours will include up to 16 hours a week contributing to basic field station chores such as laundry, cleaning, trash collection, rust abatement etc. Refuge personnel work closely with The Nature Conservancy and volunteers will be interacting with a variety of people. Volunteers are expected to represent the US. Fish and Wildlife Service at all times in a mature and professional manner which may include providing interpretive tours and presentations to visitors.

The closest definitive medical care is located 1,000 miles away and critical care may take up to 4-days to be received. There is no cell reception on the atoll, satellite based internet can be poor, and opportunities for mail are limited. Volunteers must be prepared to go the entire time without any resupplies and there is no capacity to provide for any specialized diet other than vegetarian. Many work days will involve motor boat or kayak operations and Palmyra’s apex predator dominated reef environment means reef sharks are present and will be seen on a daily basis.


Qualified volunteers must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen and possess a current passport that does not expire for at least 1-year or a non-US citizen that at the time of the application submission already possesses a US visa that allows the candidate to work in the US through August, 2020.
  • Be physically and mentally fit for living and working on a remote atoll in a small community for an extended period.
  • Be able to lift and carry 50-lbs, ride a bicycle, kayak up to 6-miles round trip, and be able to perform repetitive stooping, twisting and bending motions throughout the day.
  • Be able to pass a snorkel/swim fitness test.
  • Be able to walk at least 5-miles a day over variable terrain including water-covered sand flats, thick rainforests and open beaches while carrying up to 35-lbs.
  • Be able to perform all duties in equatorial weather conditions including high heat and humidity, strong winds, and rain.
  • Be able to supply their own work outfit, mask, fins, snorkel and wetsuit tops if needed.
  • Volunteers must be able to work well independently as well as side-by-side for extended periods.
  • The best-suited candidates are easy-going with a good sense of humor, display a mature and professional persona, be flexible under changing conditions and possess a strong physical and mental constitution.

Preference is given to people currently based in the Hawaiian Islands. Possession of a valid U.S. driver’s license is preferred.

Prior experience in the following is preferred, but not required: remote long-term camping or rustic living; operating small motorboats and kayaks; invasive plant control (terrestrial), plant propagation; shorebird and seabird identification and monitoring; familiarity with computer software such as Google Earth, Microsoft Word and Excel; and general maintenance of equipment and facilities.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will provide:

  • Transportation to and from Honolulu, HI from major US cities.
  • Housing in Honolulu and Palmyra. Food while stationed on Palmyra (but not for periods in Honolulu for training).

To apply: Please send, as one document, a cover letter and your resume/cv with at least three references to Danielle Burnett -