Get Involved

Volunteers cleaning equipment








Volunteers are not paid -- not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.

— Unknown 




We are always looking for volunteers to assist with staffing our new visitor center, as well as maintenance/grounds-keeping positions.  

Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge has a variety of opportunities for volunteers.  In exchange for working three 8 hour days/week for a minimum of 3 months or maximum of 6 months, you will receive the following with no cost;


  • Full hookup (30 or 50 amp)
  • Concrete pad nestled near two refuge ponds
  • Laundry facility (on-site)  
  • Propane
  • Uniforms (t-shirts, white polo shirt, vest, ball-caps)
  • Wifi 
  • Awards may be available


Typically, two volunteer couples, or 3-4 singles, are needed throughout the summer.

Pets are welcomed, but must remain on a leash while outdoors.  

Typical Visitor Center Duties:


  • Greeting and assisting visitors  
  • Answering phones/taking messages and reservations  
  • Cleaning visitor center and maintenance shop office 
  • Organizing and light filing  
  • Assisting with environmental education programs
  • May be asked to lead hikes
  • Keeping brochure racks filled
  • Assisting staff with various projects


Typical Groundskeeper/handyman Duties:


  • Mowing with zero-turn mowers
  • Weed-eating
  • Spraying
  • Maintaining hiking trails (cleaning signs, using backpack blower, spraying, cutting vegetation, pressure washing boardwalk, etc.)
  • Maintaining bluebird boxes
  • Cleaning equipment 
  • Blowing off parking areas 
  • Picking up limbs
  • Sweeping shops
  • Assisting staff with various projects



Staff expects all volunteers to assist with refuge events, including but not limited to, the Annual Youth Fishing Rodeo, Jr. Ranger Camps, field trips, Handicapped Fishing Rodeo, canoe trips, etc.  Volunteers may be asked to lead weekend hikes.  

Reelfoot NWR is located in northwest Tennessee, just a few miles from the TN/KY state line.  The refuge is approximately 15 minutes from Union City, where the newly constructed Discovery Park of America resides!  The refuge is only 10 minutes away from Tiptonville, which has several fantastic restaurants, the local Reelfoot Lake State Park museum, and more!  The refuge is only 45 minutes from Dyersburg, TN and 2 1/2 hours from Memphis, TN. 

The refuge is located on the northern portion of Reelfoot Lake.  Reelfoot Lake is a unique, majestic, and gorgeous area.  Formed by earthquakes in 1811-1812, this 15,000+ acre lake is a haven for duck hunters and fisherman.  Old growth bald cypress trees stand beautifully out of the waters of the lake.  Due to the Reelfoot area being a cypress swamp prior to the earthquakes, thousands of stumps hide just underneath the water, making Reelfoot Lake one of the best natural fish hatcheries in Tennessee.  The average depth of Reelfoot Lake is 5 ft, with the deepest areas being approximately 20 ft.  The infamous bald eagle calls Reelfoot Lake home.  Eagles are seen regularly throughout the year, but numbers increase during the winter as they migrate.  The refuge offers eagle tours during January and February, where, on average 40-70 eagles can be expected to be seen on a 3 hour tour.   

Learn more about the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge!

To view more of the Reelfoot Lake area, please visit our photo gallery! 

To apply, please print the Volunteer Application.  Send your application, along with three work references, to; 

Reelfoot NWR 

Attn:  Tara Dowdy

4343 Hwy 157

Union City, TN 38261


Click Next to learn about our Friends of West Tennessee Refuges!


Friends Group

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. 

More than 200 nonprofit Refuge Friends organizations support national wildlife refuges, whether they work with a single refuge, a refuge complex or an entire state.  Friends members are crucial to conserving and protecting our nation’s wildlife and teaching millions of Americans that their actions today determine the conservation legacy of tomorrow.  

More than 42,000 people volunteer their time and ideas each year to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Whether they work on the land, in a visitor center or with youth, they contribute to the conservation mission that reaches back more than a century.  Become a volunteer or Refuge Friend to contribute your strength on behalf of America’s natural resources. 

The Friends of West Tennessee National Wildlife Refuges assists in promoting a better understanding and appreciation of the natural environment of West Tennessee and, in particular, Reelfoot, Lake Isom, Chickasaw, Hatchie and Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuges, as well as Sunk Lake Public Use Natural Area.  The Friends Group supports the purposes for which the refuges have been established, their mission statements, and the goals and objectives of each refuge.  The Friends Group produces interpretive and educational materials to increase the understanding of the local West Tennessee environments.  The Group acquires materials, supplies, and/or labor, as well as provides education materials, seminars and financial assistance for students, educators, and others in the general public interested in the natural environment.  

Membership is open to any individual or entity who is approving of the goals of the corportation and who is willing to assist the corporation in its activities.

If you are interested in obtaining more information about the Friends of West Tennessee Refuges or in joining the Friends group, please contact 731-538-2481.

Click Next to find out about our student opportunities!


Pathways Program

If you are a high school or college student, or a recent graduate, who is interested in working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, you need to check out the Pathways Program.