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. 


The refuge was established to ensure the ecological integrity of Canaan Valley and the continued availability of its wetland, botanical and wildlife resources to 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. 

Maintenance volunteer

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


Water quality monitor

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. 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 Refuge 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 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.

Bat Surveys

White-nose syndrome has been the cause of decline in many species of bats over the last decade. When white-nose syndrome hit the state of WV, Refuge biologist developed bat surveys to document what species of bats were using the refuge before the outbreak of the disease. Today we continue these surveys to note the changes in species due to the disease. These surveys are also helping biologists to determine where specific species of bats are using the Refuge so we can plan our management so that it has the lowest impact on the species. Surveys include walking to remote areas to put out anabat recorders. These recorders will be out 3 to 4 nights to record bat calls. Recorders will then be picked up and data downloaded. Active bat surveys are completed for the state of WV on a route that is run every year, multiple times throughout the season. This consists of driving 2 mph along roadways and using a computer and a microphone to record bat calls. Surveys will be completed in June and July.

Fish Surveys

The Refuge is very interested in learning more about fish populations, especially native brook trout. This will be the third year for fish surveys and we have a few streams left that need to be surveyed. If we find brook trout that triggers a survey of the entire stream, not just the 3-100 meter passes that are initially completed. The survey includes walking long distances, sometimes in the stream with nets and backpack electro-shockers. This survey will help the Refuge better understand where the last remaining brook trout streams are and can then determine their long term persistence. This will help to make management decisions including where restoration of native brook trout can take place. Volunteers will also have a chance to help process fish by identifying them to species, taking measurements, and taking a DNA sample. Surveys will take place in June.

Forest restoration project

Tree planting days are schedule for April and September. These events focus 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.

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, can 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. The Friends of the 500th also operate operate
To manipulate the controls of any conveyance, such as, but not limited to, an aircraft, snowmobile, motorboat, off-road vehicle, or any other motorized or non-motorized form of vehicular transport as to direct its travel, motion, or purpose.

Learn more about 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 a half-day or entire day, several days a month. Training will be provided.  

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 refuge information, and help with logistics. 

Environmental education volunteer

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

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 during the third week in September, the event is themed around Refuge resources, like red spruce and 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


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

Education Programs

Youth Conservation Corps 

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge (CVNWR) hires its summer Youth Conservation Corps (YCC). This 8-week youth employment program begins in mid-June and continues through the first week of August.

WHERE: Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge headquarters located at 6263 Appalachian Highway on Route 32 in Canaan Valley, WV

WHAT: Full-time (40 hrs per week) summer employment, Monday through Friday, 7:30 am-4:00 pm, for 8 weeks during the summer months, usually June through August.

SALARY: Minimum wage

HOURS: Monday through Friday, 7:30am to 4pm for 8 weeks from June 13th to August 5th.

DUTIES: Complete natural resource conservation, protection, and enhancement projects including trail and garden maintenance, boardwalk repairs, wildlife surveys, etc.  Duties are performed in all types of weather/outdoor conditions. 

REQUIREMENTS: Ability to use common hand tools and to perform physical labor.  Must be between 15 and 18 years of age for the duration of the program.  Must have parental approval and transportation to refuge headquarters. Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. 

SELECTION: Enrollee selection will be on a random basis from the pool of eligible applicants. Those not initially selected will remain on an alternate candidate list should vacancies occur during the program.  Applications are currently being accepted. 

ALL APPLICATIONS MUST BE RECEIVED AT THE ADDRESS BELOW BY May 9th, 2022! Due to PRIVACY LAWS we will NOT be accepting applications via email.

Download the 2022 Application here.

For further information, please contact:

Matthew Boarman
Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
6263 Appalachian Way
Davis, WV 26260
Telephone: (304) 202-5366
E-mail: Matthew_Boarman@fws.gov