Ways to Get Involved
Whether you want to further conservation, learn more about nature or share your love of the outdoors, you’ve come to the right place. National wildlife refuges provide many opportunities for you to help your community and fish and wildlife by doing what you love.
National wildlife refuges partner with volunteers, youth groups, landowners, neighbors and residents of urban and coastal communities to make a lasting difference.
Find out how you can help make American lands healthier and communities stronger while doing something personally satisfying.
Volunteers: Gain new experiences and meet new people while helping to advance wildlife conservation.
Friends: Join neighbors in helping refuges restore habitat and expand access to green space.
Landowners: Learn how you can partner with the Fish and Wildlife Service to voluntarily restore land.
Local Community: Find out how communities can work with refuges better for wildlife and people.
Youth: Explore paid and unpaid opportunities to learn and develop leadership skills.
Discover for yourself what tens of thousands of volunteers have learned: Volunteering for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is fun and rewarding in many ways. Master new skills. Meet new friends. Enjoy a sense of accomplishment from doing your part to further wildlife conservation for the pleasure of generations to follow. Check out our station's latest volunteer opportunities on volunteer.gov .
If you're interested in becoming a volunteer, contact Visitor Services Manager, Ann Marie Chapman, to learn more about the opportunities we currently have available. You can reach her by calling (631) 286-0485 x2131 or complete a volunteer application and email to AnnMarie_Chapman@fws.gov.
VISITOR SERVICES VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES:
Visitor Center Greeter and Nature Store Volunteer (Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge) - The Complex’s interactive visitor center will be standing in the dark without YOUR assistance! As a Visitor Center Greeter and Nature Store Volunteer, you will help visitors connect to refuge lands through a variety of recreational opportunities. Volunteers are needed to assist in operation of the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex Visitor Center and Nature Store, located in Shirley, NY. If you like interacting with people, both young and old, this is the volunteer position for you!! Volunteer duties include: meet and cheerfully greet visitors; provide area and refuge recreation opportunity information; give orientations to the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Refuge System; assist visitors with refuge rules and regulations; concisely explain the refuge entrance fee options; answer telephones; answer visitor questions; respond to visitor correspondences; distribute brochures; and restock brochures. These duties provide volunteers with the opportunity to reach diverse groups of people with a knowledge and appreciation of the environment and the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Welcome Cabin Volunteer (Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge) - The Complex’s interactive visitor center is a gem in its own right, but some visitors miss the quaintness of the west side of the river, with the old headquarters building and the Friends of Wertheim Refuge’s Welcome Cabin. If you long for the quiet and beauty of overlooking the Carmans River, we invite you to share your passion with visitors walking to the White Oak Nature Trail. Volunteers are needed to work a two hour shift on Sundays when the new visitor center is closed but visitors are still welcome to walk the refuge trails. Volunteer duties include meeting and cheerfully greeting visitors while providing them with area and refuge recreation opportunity information. Sounds difficult? Not really because we will provide you with everything you need to know!! You will also be allowed to drive your vehicle to the cabin, eliminating the need to walk the half mile for the new center.
Special Event / Community Outreach Volunteer (Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge and off-site) - During special events we host volunteers are needed to: staff a variety of education booths and children’s craft activities; lead canoe and birding tours; direct parking; and ensuring the public has a great experience at the event. During community sponsored events volunteers will staff an information table to acquaint event attendees with the refuge units on Long Island and recreation. Dependability and ability to handle assignments required.
Volunteer Photographer (Fiveunits open to public) - Using volunteer’s own equipment, take photographs of native flora and fauna. Close ups/Macro photos are preferred. Photographs will become property of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and may be used for specific outreach materials.
Photo Historian Volunteer (Five national wildlife refuge units open to public) - Using volunteer’s own equipment, find a location at one of the five national wildlife refuges open to the public and take a photo once a week or month of the view. Compile these photographs into a yearly snapshot of each refuge.
Marketing Assistance Volunteer (Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge and off-site) – These volunteers establish and maintain contacts with the media to enlist support through media coverage. Assisting with tours for media and community representatives to acquaint them with the refuge units. Extraordinary skill in dealing with people and enthusiasm for the refuge units, mission, and programs. Knowledge of social media and marketing techniques is a plus.
Volunteer Speakers Bureau (Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge and off-site) – These volunteers present programs promoting the refuge units in response to community organization requests. Presentations are in PowerPoint format and are usually one hour in length, in the evening within the local commuting area. Exceptional public speaking skills, dependability and ability to independently handle assignments required.
Volunteer Historian (Five national wildlife refuge units open to public and off-site) – Research history of previous land owners, land use and other important information for the five refuge units open to the public. Collect documents, photos and oral history for a variety of sources, including internet and local libraries.
MAINTENANCE VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES:
Beach Cleanup Volunteer (Morton and Target Rock National Wildlife Refuges) - Assist refuge staff with litter pickup of local refuge beaches. Gloves, trash bags and snacks are provided.
Volunteer Landscaper/Trail Maintenance (Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge) - Specific projects include: mow grass around visitor center once a week, mow grass in middle of trails twice a summer, weed the flowers beds around visitor center once a month, prune branches out of trails once a month, power wash front and back lobbies of visitor center twice a year, “weed eat” around the “You Are Here” panels along trails, pull vegetation from the see through boardwalks and along trails behind visitor center, pick up litter along Smith Road once a month, and redesign a purple martin bird house.
Volunteer Gardner (Wertheim and Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuges) – Maintain the flower beds in front of the visitor center at Wertheim Refuge and the pollinator garden at Elizabeth A. Morton Refuge. Research care of native plants, pull weeds, install plant ID tags, beautify the area, and provide interpretation of the garden(s) to visitors.
Invasive Species Control Volunteer (Seatuck and Wertheim National Wildlife Refuges) - Purple foxglove is a biennial (two year growth cycle) herb/forb that is considered invasive across North America. Volunteers will assist with hand-pulling this invasive plant to help prevent its spread on the Refuge. Foxglove actively grows during the spring and summer months and can reach a height of five feet. The flowers are predominantly purple, while a few plants have white flowers. Flowers need to be removed as they are highly competitive with the surrounding vegetation. Much of their ability to compete comes from the numerous seeds that each plant can produce. Registration is required at least two days prior to the event; an advance volunteer count is important for work planning, locations, equipment/supplies, etc.
Visitor Services Resident RV Volunteer (Wertheim and Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuges)
If you like interacting with people, both young and old, this is the volunteer position for you!! This volunteer position interacts closely with Long Island Refuge Complex’s Visitor Services team. Stationed at Wertheim National Wildlife Refuges, volunteers will focus their energies:
- Staffing the Complex’s new interactive visitor center (Meet and cheerfully greet visitors, provide area and refuge recreation opportunity information, give orientations to the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Refuge System; assist visitors with refuge rules and regulations; concisely explain the refuge entrance fee options; answer telephones, answer visitor questions, respond to visitor correspondences, distribute brochures and restock brochures.)
- Roving refuge trails to educate refuge visitors (Engage refuge visitors as they walk trails and look for wildlife, show wildlife related props and photos.);
- Provide informal interpretation (Research, develop and present interpretive programs, talks or demonstrations);
- Doing clerical activities (Filing, answering the phone at the front desk, researching refuge history at local libraries and organizing Complex’s image library.);
- Photographing a variety of natural resources; and
- Performing basic maintenance duties (Maintain cleanliness of public restrooms; pick up and dispose of litter found along roadways, trails and visitor areas).
These duties provide volunteers with the opportunity to reach diverse groups of people with a knowledge and appreciation of the environment and the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Skills Desired: Volunteers should have good communication skills, an interest in and ability to learn about area history and natural resources, a desire to share knowledge with visiting public and work with a diversity of staff and visitors. Experience with public speaking is beneficial, but not necessary. We especially look for volunteers with backgrounds as educators or naturalists and with skills in birding and photography. A flexibility to handle variations in routine due to shifting priorities and visitor needs is appreciated. In addition, we are looking for volunteers with a demonstrated skill for investigating refuge history through local sources. We are also looking for people with experience organizing and sorting image libraries (i.e. slides, photographs and digital images).
Position Dates: Use of a RV pad will require a two month minimum commitment and at least three, eight hour days for couples/week and four, eight hour days for individuals/week. The work schedule is firm (a half day Thursday, all day Friday and Saturday and a half day Sunday). Friday and Saturday shifts will be 8 hours, beginning at 8:00 am and ending at 4:30 pm. Thursday and Sunday shifts will be 12:00 – 4:00 pm. All volunteers will be given an orientation to Long Island National Wildlife Refuges and a volunteer hat, shirt and jacket.
Housing and Amenities: One RV pad is located at each national wildlife refuge. The pad is crushed gravel and has full hook ups (water, electric and sewer). Amenities for RV volunteers include a picnic table and access to a washer/dryer in the headquarters building. On the job training will be provided. One RV pad is located at this national wildlife refuge. The pad is crushed gravel and has full hook ups (water, electric and sewer).
- Must be a U.S. citizen
- A valid driver’s license is necessary.
- Must pass a federal background investigation in order to use government computers.
To apply for a RV opportunity:
Applications will be accepted up through November 30th of each year, with selections made in mid-January. Contact Ann Marie Chapman at (631) 286-0485 ext. 2131 or AnnMarie_Chapman@fws.gov (If emailing, in the subject line, type in your name followed by the position you are applying for. Example: Ann Marie Chapman: Wertheim Refuge RV Volunteer). You will be sent an application and requested to send a photo of you and your RV.
Nature does not recognize human-made boundaries. In order to conserve our natural and cultural resources effectively, we must work with others to bridge these boundaries. Partnerships foster creative solutions to challenging situations and often the results are greater than the sum of the parts. Learn more about our local partners.
The Friends of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge supports
- the primary purposes of the refuge: for use as an inviolate sanctuary for migratory birds, for the protection and enhancement of natural resources and for the conservation of endangered and/or threatened species;
- wildlife-dependent recreational and educational activities that enhance and further the primary purpose of the refuge; and
- cooperative and mutually productive relationships between the refuge and adjacent communities.
The Friends are responsible for operating the nature store at the Long Island National Refuge Complex Visitor Center. They can be reached at: https://friendsofwertheimnwr.wildapricot.org.
A list of our partners:
- Brookhaven National Laboratory
- Central Pine Barrens Commission
- Dept. of Environment & Energy
- Ducks Unlimited
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
- Suffolk County – Vector Control
- U.S. Geological Survey
Effective outreach depends on open and continuing communication between the refuge staff and the public. This communication involves determining and understanding the issues, identifying audiences, crafting messages, selecting the most effective delivery techniques, and evaluating effectiveness. Achieved results will further the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System and refuge purposes. See the National Outreach Strategy: A Master Plan for Communicating in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and America’s National Wildlife Refuge System: 100 on 100 Outreach Campaign.
Open the door to a potentially life-changing experience. If you land a student internship, a fellowship or a volunteer opportunity at a, fish hatchery or other Fish and Wildlife Service site, you’re bound to come away with new insights and excitement about conservation.
Our biology and visitor services programs hire several interns and biological science technicians each year. Biological science technicians are advertised through usajobs.gov in January/February of each year, and internship opportunities are advertised through the American Conservation Experience and/or the Student Conservation Association. Opportunities are also announced through the Complex Facebook page.