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. Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge provides many opportunities for you to help wildlife and improve habitat. Refuge staff partner with conservation organizations, educational institutions, volunteers, youth groups and community residents to make a lasting difference for wildlife and people. Call or email the refuge manager to find out how you can help.


Volunteers assist with many activities at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge. Internships are frequently available for biological and wildlife research work on the refuge. Youth groups are always welcome to do service projects on the refuge and maintenance help is frequently needed. Refuge staff are always glad to work with volunteers and if you are interested in helping the refuge, please give the refuge manager a call to discuss options. Past volunteers and interns have participated in studies of crawfish frog ecology, forest and grassland bird nest productivity, cerulean warbler nesting ecology and small mammal biodiversity inventories. Other tasks like visitor assistance, sign placement, refuge maintenance projects and trash pick-up are also potential volunteer or intern opportunities. If you are interested in volunteering or want more information, contact the refuge Office at 812-273-0783.

Interns are normally college students or recent college graduates who are reimbursed for housing to help cover living expenses. Most interns have, or are pursuing, degrees in biology or public recreation.

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. Learn new skills, meet new friends and enjoy a sense of accomplishment from doing your part to further wildlife conservation for the pleasure of generations to follow.

Our Partners

Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge has an active friends, non-profit group that supports refuge activities. The Big Oaks Conservation Society helps care for the historic Old Timbers Lodge, runs an annual Becoming an Outdoor Woman event and hosts other special tours and outings during the year. The group is a membership organization that actively recruits and welcomes volunteers. For more information check out the Big Oaks Conservation Society website.

The refuge, in coordination with the Big Oaks Conservation Society, offers a variety of learning and interpretive programs throughout the year. Besides the Becoming an Outdoor Woman event in June, there is an Ice Cream Social in August and Lodge Days in September where special tours are given. There are also guided bird, historical and other special interest van tours offerered from time to time during the year.

Other organizations partnering with the refuge include the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, the Indiana Air National Guard, the Oak Heritage Conservancy, Visit Madison, Jennings County Tourism, Karst Conservancy, Indiana Department of Natural Resources Divisions of Fish and Wildlife and Nature Preserves, Indiana Native Plant Society, Indiana Plant Conservation Alliance, Pollinator Partnership, Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and Bat Conservation International. When you use any of our partner links you are leaving the USFWS web sites.
DOI and the bureaus do not guarantee that outside Web sites comply with Section 508 (Accessibility Requirements) of the Rehabilitation Act.


Big Oaks is a great place for local school groups, scout troops, and community organizations to work on service and environmental educational projects. Refuge staff are happy to assist with conservation and wildlife-related off-site events as much as time permits. The refuge provides a wonderful learning opportunity for people of all ages. To stay informed of the latest refuge happenings and events check out the Big Oaks Conservation Society page on Facebook. 

Students in grades K-12 who are interested in drawing should investigate the Junior Duck Stamp program which promotes learning about waterfowl and habitat conservation by making a drawing of a native duck, goose, or swan. The free "Conservation Through Art" contest is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with no charge to enter.

Education Programs

Refuge staff coordinate with local schools and other agencies to offer on-site and/or in-classroom programs related to the themes of habitat protection, stewardship and natural resources appreciation. A popular event for students is "Its a Frogs Life" that usually occurs in March. Outdoor Field Days for students from several area schools are also held from time to time in the fall.

A fun and educational program for adult women is held annually at the Big Oaks Old Timbers Lodge. The Becoming an Outdoor Woman event, held in June, is sponsored by the Big Oaks Conservation Society and allows participants to learn a variety of outdoor skills in a one-day event.