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 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.

Internship Announcement:

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge is seeking TWO Invasive Species Members through the American Conservation Experience (ACE) to assist with mapping and management of invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
as well as other biological projects alongside our team. This is a paid internship opportunity with housing available. To learn more about the internship and to apply, check out the link below!



The refuge was established to ensure the ecological integrity of Canaan Valley and the continued availability of its wetland habitats, and the botanical and wildlife resources for the citizens of the United States. Volunteer opportunities are growing. Qualified volunteers are needed to lead refuge programs, assist with maintenance projects, staff the visitor center, maintain refuge trails and help with special work days or events. There are also a limited number of opportunities for qualified volunteers to help with biological work. The projects range from a few hours to long-term. Schedules can be worked out to accommodate the volunteer’s needs. Contact canaanvalley@fws.gov to inquire about volunteering.

Visitor Services

Visitor Center attendant

The Refuge Visitor Center at 6263 Appalachian Highway is usually the first stop on our visitor's trip. We offer general orientation to the area, show a 10 minute orientation film about Canaan Valley NWR, give out brochures, encourage the use of interactive exhibits and kids activities, and provide information about the Refuge and surrounding area. The Friends of the 500th also operate a bookstore/gift shop located within the Visitor Center. If you like interacting with the public we encourage you to volunteer at the Visitor Center for a half-day or entire day. Come as often as you would like, or just a few days a month when you are able. Training will be provided.  

Native Garden 

Do you enjoy getting your hands in the ground and helping promote native species? Surrounding the Canaan Valley NWR visitor center, one will find numerous native plants filling our garden beds. Our volunteers help weed, transplant, plan, and expand the garden through our garden parties. Garden parties occur spring through fall- keep tuned to learn the updated garden party times. 

Interpretive and program guides and presenters

Do you have some specialized knowledge of an aspect of the natural environment (i.e. birds, wildflowers, nature photography, etc.) that relates to the Refuge setting? We need interpretive guides who can organize walks or deliver interpretive programs as part of our regular series of events. See the Events section of this website for examples of the programs offered at Canaan Valley NWR. 

Special event volunteer

Special event volunteers help with traveling exhibits, special events or outreach, both on and off the Refuge. Candidates should enjoy talking to people and present a clean and neat appearance. Volunteers will help visitors enjoy and learn from interactive exhibits, provide information about the refuge, and help with logistics. 

Environmental education volunteer

Are you interested in working with kids and sharing what you know about nature? Volunteers help with planning, logistics, and delivery of field trips for school children, scouts, church groups, camps, and more!  

Wild School assistance

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge hosts sixth-grade students from local schools at an annual environmental education event called Wild School. Usually held in late April or early May, the event is themed around Refuge resources, like wetlands ecosystems. This event takes lots of effort and talent. We look for volunteers to help with:

  • Logistics - help us set up and tear down
  • Station instructors and assistants
  • Group escorts
  • Timekeepers
  • Photographer

Chronic Wasting Disease Sampling

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a disease that affects deer and related species. We collect deer heads from roadkill from throughout Tucker County to test and monitor for CWD in the area. Please report roadkill deer to amylynn_ephraim@fws.gov for collection.

Water Quality Monitoring

Volunteers are needed to monitor water quality testing sites on a regular basis. We need volunteers who can follow a predetermined protocol and are comfortable in using basic scientific monitoring instruments. We use these measurements to determine the overall health of a stream and whether native brook trout could be reintroduced. Training will be provided.

Vernal Pool Surveys

The Refuge has been involved in a regional vernal pool study for over 18 years. This study is in partnership with USGS, other Refuges and a few National Parks. Scientists are busy looking at trends of spotted salamanders and wood frogs that use the pools for breeding and laying eggs. Unfortunately, Canaan is seeing a large decline in both species, which makes monitoring their populations even more important. Helping with this project will include walking long distances over uneven ground to the pools, taking measurements and recording the number of egg masses or larvae. Egg mass counts are in April and larval counts will occur in June.

Forest Restoration Project

Tree planting occurs each year during Earth Day weekend. This event focuses on the Refuge's efforts to restore some of its beautiful, biologically important, high elevation forests. Balsam fir and red spruce are typically planted. An orientation to the day starts with a discussion of the historic role of this forest, and why the Refuge and partner organizations are working to restore it. Then we will carpool to the work site and plant some trees! More volunteer hands are always welcome. 

For more information please contact Dawn Washington at dawn_washington@fws.gov or 304-866-3858 ext. 3013.

Woodcock Surveys

Woodcocks are one of many species the refuge actively works with and monitors. In spring, woodcock surveys take place in the evenings to count the number of "peenting" males in a given area. These surveys take place in late April.

Forest Inventory

Measure trees and vegetation that make up the forest ecosystem. The inventory will help managers and biologists determine if a forest is in need of management for different species. These surveys take place spring through fall. 

Invasive Species Surveys and Management

Invasive species are starting to take over the refuge! Help us to find, record and remove the invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
through appropriate management practices. We are looking for volunteers who can identify these species, or are accompanied by someone who is able to. Invasive management occurs from spring through fall. 


Volunteers work with maintenance staff to keep facilities and equipment in good working order. Mowing and trail work may also be involved.  Work involves skilled and semi-skilled knowledge in the use of basic hand tools, such as saws, screwdrivers, hammers and basic power tools for several trades.  Trades consist of carpentry, electrical, plumbing, flooring, painting and snow removal. Volunteers with skilled labor experience are sought for projects that include:

  • Carpentry
  • Small Engine Repair
  • Landscaping
  • Trail Work
  • Welding
  • Painting
  • Heavy Equipment Operation
  • Tree Removal

For more information please contact Daryl Johnson at 304-866-3858 ext. 3012

General Refuge photography

The Refuge needs photos of wildlife observation areas, overlooks, scenic views, visitor walking trails, etc. Images of our local flora and fauna are welcomed. We also periodically need event photographers who are comfortable taking photos of people. Photographs are used for print publications and reports, for interpretive products, to inform visitors about events, and for social media applications.  

Digital image scanning

The Refuge has an extensive collection of photographs of landscapes, wildlife, historic images, public use, etc. subject. Volunteer help is needed to organize, summarize, and catalog these images into a searchable database. Training will be provided. 

Our Partners

The mission of the US Fish and Wildlife Service is "working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people."

Friends Group

The Friends of the nation's 500th National Wildlife Refuge was formed in 1996 to preserve and enhance the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The Friends is a non-profit citizen's group devoted to conserving the unique natural and cultural resources of the Refuge and promoting nature oriented education. They work to promote awareness, enlist volunteers for Refuge and recreation program assistance, and sponsor special events, such as bird and wildflower walks and special studies and provide understanding and appreciation of ecology and people's role in their environment.

You may contact the Friends at:

Friends of the 500th
P.O. Box 422
Davis, WV 26260
or by e-mail: friendsofthe500th@refugeassociation.org