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. Visit Volunteer.gov to find opportunities near you, and see below to find out about volunteering at Blackwater NWR!
Friends: Join neighbors in helping refuges restore habitat and expand access to green space. Find out how the Friends of Blackwater supports the refuge and enhances the visitor experience!
Landowners: Learn how you can partner with the Fish and Wildlife Service to voluntarily restore land.
Local Groups: 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.
Youth Conservation Corps Program
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge typically offers Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) positions for young people ages 15 to 18 during the summer months. The YCC program at Blackwater NWR lasts 8 weeks, running mid-June through mid-August. YCC recruits work 40 hours a week, 7:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. each day, and are paid minimum wage. They must be a permanent resident of the United States, its territories or possessions, and be able to provide their own transportation to work. The refuge typically hires up to four (4) young people for this program. Youths interested in the YCC program may contact Ranger Tom Miller if they have questions.
March 6, 2023: Applications are now being accepted for Blackwater NWR's 2023 YCC program! This year's program will run from June 20 to August 11. To apply, students and parents must complete the official application as well as sign and return the informational letter. Program details and application instructions can be found in the informational letter. Applications must be received or postmarked by May 1, 2023.
Volunteers are involved in all aspects of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, and play a critical role in helping the refuge fulfill its mission. Volunteers are needed to assist with a variety of programs, including staffing the information desk at the Visitor Center and the Friends of Blackwater's Eagle's Nest Bookstore, as well as assisting with environmental education programs, biological surveys and monitoring, special events, trail and facility maintenance, interpretive programs, gardening, outreach, and much more. Whether you can work once a week, once a month, or once a year, your service is welcomed and needed!
If you are interested in becoming a Blackwater NWR volunteer, please contact Michele Whitbeck, Volunteer Coordinator.
Come help make the refuge a better place for wildlife and people alike!
Blackwater NWR is proud to partner with federal and state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private entities to help reach our goals in conservation, management, and community outreach.
Refuge staff are available for outreach talks and presentations to organized groups within our local commuting area. Refuge staff and volunteers are also proud to represent the refuge at local community and environmental events within our region, as staffing allows.
If you would like to inquire about refuge outreach programs, please email us at fw5rw_BWNWR@fws.gov .
Please Note: Though most COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, a local surge in cases (as compiled weekly by the CDC) may require limits in group sizes and/or mandatory masking.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is the perfect place for students to learn about the environment and experience the natural world! Educational and interpretive visits can be arranged with refuge staff and volunteers. Educators are also welcome to use the refuge's facilities and equipment to conduct their own environmental lessons.
All visits must be arranged in advance by contacting Ranger Tom Miller. If you are seeking a staff-led program, please contact us as far in advance as possible. We also recommend having several optional dates for your visit. Because of our small staff size, we ask that group sizes be limited to approximately 50 students. We are happy to accommodate large schools over multiple days.
All activities related to environmental education are free to any educational group. Programs can be designed to accommodate young children and special populations. The Wildlife Drive entrance fee is waived for all educational-institution guided tours. The Visitor Center is free to all.
Most educational programs will meet at our Environmental Education Building, located just inside the entrance of Wildlife Drive. When using GPS to find the building, use the following address, which will lead you to the entrance of Wildlife Drive: 2431 Key Wallace Drive, Cambridge, Maryland, 21613.
Junior Refuge Manager Program
New at the refuge! Young visitors can now learn about the refuge and become a Junior Refuge Manager! Ask for the "Junior Refuge Manager Field Journal" activity book at the Visitor Center information desk, and begin your refuge exploration! Activities are varied and appropriate for preschoolers (with parental help) and up. If you complete your Field Journal and return to the Visitor Center during business hours (Tues - Sun, 10am - 4pm), young managers will be sworn in and receive a unique wooden Blackwater Junior Manager badge!
Please note: Because Junior Refuge Manager activities are unique to Blackwater NWR and must be completed on-site, Field Journals will not be mailed out.