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 urban and coastal community members to make a lasting difference. Find out how you can help make American lands healthier and communities stronger while doing something personally satisfying.

Volunteering

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.

Detroit River international Wildlife Refuge relies upon volunteers to perform many important jobs, but the most important thing they can do for us, and in turn for wildlife, is to be our wildlife ambassadors to the public. Uninformed visitors to the refuge may unintentionally do things that are harmful to themselves, to others, and to wildlife. Together through education, we hope to help people understand the needs of wildlife and how we can give wildlife the best opportunities to thrive. Becoming a volunteer is an important decision that can make a positive statement about your commitment to wildlife conservation.

To apply for a specific position please email our volunteer coordinator at driwr_volunteer@fws.gov. Type your name and the position you are applying for in the subject line.

Learn more about the currently volunteer opportunities here.

Volunteer Opportunities

Using your own equipment, take photographs of native flora and fauna, special events, and of Refuge staff and partners working in the field. Close ups/Macro photos are preferred. Photographs will become property of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and may be used in a variety of outreach...
During special events volunteers are needed to staff a variety of educational booths, children’s craft activities and information tables to acquaint event attendees with the Refuge. Dependability and ability to independently handle assignments required. Shifts are usually from two to four hours in...
If you love to fish, tell your fish stories and get others interested in fishing, this is the position for you! The Refuge fishing pier extends 740 feet into the Detroit River and connects to a 150-foot-long fishing pier. Volunteer monitors will help guide people, answer questions and pick up...
At the Refuge we strive to keep the trails up to a high standard so everyone feels welcome and comfortable hiking on them. This volunteer position performs all aspects of trail maintenance and construction. Examples of work include: mowing grass; clearing brush and fallen logs from trail corridor;...
The stewardship crew is the go-to team for any challenge facing the Refuge. Volunteers are invited to assist with a variety of habitat management activities including invasive species control (mowing, herbicide application, tree and brush cutting with hand saws and loppers), seed collecting/...
Speakers Bureau volunteers present programs about the Refuge in response to community organization requests. Presentations are typically in PowerPoint and are usually one hour in length, during daytime or evening hours within the local commuting area. Exceptional public speaking skills, subject...
If you are a birder and want to put your skills to work, this volunteer position is for you! During the autumn months, the lower Detroit River becomes a corridor for the passage of migratory birds, and has gained international recognition for the annual volume of birds of prey. Hundreds of...
Do you love nature so much you want to share it with others? You might find your niche as a Nature Navigator! Navigators will have the opportunity to lead guided hikes, nature education programs and assist with school groups. Training includes an overview of the Refuge and all necessary material to...
The Refuge’s new interactive visitor center will be standing in the dark without your assistance! As a Visitor Center Greeter and Nature Store volunteer, you will help visitors connect to Refuge lands through a variety of recreational opportunities. The John D. Dingell Jr. Visitor Center is located...
If the Detroit River Hawk Watch Raptor volunteer position sounds interesting but you are not quite certain your eyes are up for the challenge of counting hawks high in the air, perhaps this position is more appealing! Our counters would love to chat with the many visitors who stop by the counting...

Our Partners

Public land is land shared by all of the American people. The responsibility of caring for that land does not belong to any one agency or group of people, but to all. We partner with many groups including: International Wildlife Refuge Alliance, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Greening of Detroit and Grosse Ile Nature and Land Conservancy. In addition to non-profit organizations, we also partner with state, federal, tribal and provincial agencies including Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Consulate General of Canada and Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority to care for and manage our nation’s priceless resources. Other partners in this effort are the men, women and children who live near and will be using the refuge and experiencing all that the natural surroundings have to offer, as well as those in metro Detroit, Toledo and Winsor, Canada whose lives are impacted by the protection of clean water sources and healthy populations of fish and wildlife species.

At Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, these partnerships are well established, but there are opportunities for further growth and for reaching new partners. The refuge and our partners recognize that we face major challenges in providing for fish and wildlife in the Detroit River and Lake Erie Western Basin. Some refuge units are contaminated, and development has altered most of the natural system. Can we make a significant difference in this ecosystem? Will our efforts be worthwhile? We think the answer is “yes” to these questions. At a minimum, we need to work together with partners to conserve the last remnants of coastal wetlands and undeveloped islands. Beyond the minimum, we will work together to restructure areas to benefit wildlife and the aquatic environment.

The International Wildlife Refuge Alliance: Since its establishment in 2006, the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance has been a formal partner of the refuge as a friend’s organization. Their mission is to support the first international wildlife refuge in North America by working through partnerships to protect, conserve and manage the refuge’s wildlife and habitats; and to create exceptional conservation, recreational and educational experiences to develop the next generation of conservation stewards.

International Wildlife Refuge Alliance is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the mission and purposes of the refuge and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They provide paid staff and volunteers, as well as support many vital services to the refuge including community outreach, educational programming, habitat restoration, special events and advocacy.

Outreach

We share the most important fish, wildlife, habitat and other natural resource issues to visitors of all ages and abilities. We tailor messages and delivery methods to specific audiences and present them in appropriate locations. Through heightened awareness, we inspire visitors to take positive actions supporting refuge goals and the National Wildlife Refuge System mission.

Through formal, curriculum-based environmental education tied to national and state education standards, we advance public awareness, understanding, appreciation and knowledge of key fish, wildlife, plant and their habitats. We support environmental education through the use of facilities, equipment, educational materials, teacher workshops and study sites that are safe and conducive to learning.

Refuge staff members are available to speak with your group off-site as well. Programs are available on a variety of topics concerning the refuge, plants, and animals living in the area or other topics. In addition, refuge staff are involved in a variety of both on and off-refuge events throughout southeast Michigan.

Education Programs

Open the door to a potentially life-changing experience. If you land a student internship, a fellowship or a volunteer opportunity at a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
, fish hatchery or other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service site, you’re bound to come away with new insights and excitement about conservation.

The refuge occasionally offers visitor services internships that can range from six weeks to one year in length. Interns assist with exposing new audiences to nature and developing nature-based comfort levels through programming, developing new skill sets, and staffing the visitor center. Contact refuge staff at DetroitRiver@fws.gov to learn more.