Ways to Get Involved
The first 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.was established in 1903 as a result of concerned citizens.
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.
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.
At Back Bay NWR, volunteers form an important part of the Visitor Services, Biology and Maintenance programs. The following volunteer opportunities may be available. Please contact the Visitor Services Specialist at (757)301-7329 ext.3106 or Erica_Ryder@fws.gov if you are interested in these opportunities or would like further information. Opportunities are often seasonal in nature.
***ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: Every year over 2,000 children visit the Refuge and participate in a variety of outdoor education programs. We are searching for enthusiastic volunteers to help us provide high quality education programs to these young visitors. Please contact Erica Ryder (number and email above) for more information.
***BIOLOGY SUPPORT: Our biology team is searching for volunteers interested in a range of activities, including assistance with bird surveys, bee surveys, vegetation surveys and sea turtle nest-sitting. For more information about biology programs please contact Refuge Biologist Lauren Mowbray at Lauren_Mowbray@fws.gov.
***FRONT DESK: The reception desk of the Visitor Contact Station is the face of the Refuge. Our reception volunteers are key to greeting, orienting and providing basic information to visitors. This is a great way to stay connected!
***TRAIL MAINTENANCE: The third Wednesday of every month from 9:00am-11:00am is a Trail Maintenance Day! Come join our team as we beautify our hiking trails, using scientific techniques to keep our trails healthy, safe and aesthetically pleasing.
***BEACH CLEANUPS: Every year we host two community beach cleanups. The first Saturday of June is Clean the Bay Day and the last Saturday in September is National Public Lands Day. Be sure to call us to sign up for one of these events. Volunteer groups can also sign up for beach cleanups at any time of the year. We welcome your help!
Other volunteer projects, such as a BioBlitz event or Dune Grass Planting program, may come up throughout the year. For upcoming events, check the Events section of the website or the Refuge Facebook page.
Blue Goose Wildlife Tram
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park partner to operate the Blue Goose Wildlife Tram. For the last 20 years a team of volunteers have guided visitors through the Refuge and False Cape State Park. False Cape State Park is currently searching for all those interested in driving and interpreting the Blue Goose Wildlife Tram. Driving the tram is a unique opportunity to visit the refuge and False Cape State Park and to share all the beauty and history of these areas with the public. Schedules are flexible and training is provided. For more information contact Cameron Swain at Cameron.Swain@dcr.virginia.gov.
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.
Back Bay NWR's primary partner is our Friends group, the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society (Society). The Society was formed in 2020 to support the Refuge through various projects and programs. Initial Society projects include installing and maintaining osprey platforms and creating plant identification signs on the Raptor Trail. Contact the Society for information about membership and upcoming projects!
Back Bay NWR also works with many state, local, non-profit and federal partners to achieve our mission. This list continues to grow as we develop new partnerships:
- False Cape State Park (Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation) - https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/false-cape
- City of Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation - https://www.vbgov.com/government/departments/parks-recreation/pages/default.aspx
- City of Virginia Beach Public Schools - vbschools.com
- YELLOW - https://teamyellow.org/
- Back Bay Restoration Foundation - https://backbayrestorationfoundation.com/
- Friends of Back Bay (NO WEBSITE)
- Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources - https://dwr.virginia.gov/
- Virginia Aquarium - www.virginiaaquarium.com
- NAS Oceana and Dam Neck Annex (United States Navy) - https://cnrma.cnic.navy.mil/Installations/NAS-Oceana/
- Ducks Unlimited - https://www.ducks.org/
- Great Bridge Fishmerman's Association - https://fishgbfa.org/
- Virginia Beach Anglers Club - http://www.virginiabeachanglersclub.org/
The Refuge works with outside organizations, including schools, local governments, non-profit organizations and others to provide outreach in the community. Contact us at (757)301-7329 ext.3106 if you are interested in having the refuge participate in an event at your location.
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.
Internships with the Biology and Visitor Services programs at the refuge are available each summer. Contact the refuge at (757)301-7329 ext.3106 in January to inquire about summer internship opportunities.