Ways to Get Involved

Interested in getting involved with John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge? Opportunities include volunteering, internships, summer employment, and becoming a member of the Friends of Heinz Refuge.


From trail maintenance to environmental education to the front desk, there are many opportunities to contribute! Volunteers provide thousands of hours annually to the refuge assisting with programming, resource management, and administrative duties. Their time and dedication are critical to the refuge’s ability to accomplish goals related to our mission and services delivered to the public. In addition to an invitation to the Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, volunteers receive training, clothing and a nametag. All prospective volunteers contact the Visitor Service Manager, David Stoughton, by email to david_stoughton@fws.gov.

Our Partners

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. John Heinz NWR is committed to working collaboratively with national, state, local, and community partners. A few key partners include:

Friends of Heinz Refuge (FOHR)

The Friends of the Heinz Refuge (FOHR) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization engaged in a wide diversity of projects, programs, and services which serve to raise awareness of and support for John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia, as well as the National Wildlife Refuge System and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. FOHR assists the refuge in meeting their mission in a variety of ways including managing a nature store, hosting special events, providing bus funding for school groups, and much more! To find out how you can get involved, visit https://fohrefuge.org/ or find them on Facebook @FriendsOfHeinz. 

Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River Watershed (AWE)

Get to know your watershed! The Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River Watershed is comprised of 23 environmental education centers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The Delaware River is the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi, and its watershed stretches all the way into upstate New York, providing clean drinking water for more than 15 million people – that’s nearly 5% of the entire United States’ population! The Delaware River watershed provides important ecological habitats to a multitude of species, and provides recreation for cyclists, hikers, paddlers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
Explore. Enjoy. Engage. The 23 education centers in the Alliance share a mission to collectively increase and enhance constituent appreciation, knowledge, and stewardship of the Delaware River watershed.

NESt Partnership

The Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Partnership (NESt) between John Heinz NWR and the National Audubon Society collaborates in conservation through hands-on programming in schools, in neighborhoods, and at the refuge. The refuge works with many community partners to educate, engage, and connect Southwest Philadelphia to green spaces. The program includes a native plant propagation program at Fairmount Park, partner schools in Southwest Philadelphia, creating pocket parks, and much more!

Partner Schools

The Philly Nature Kids environmental education program is a partnership between John Heinz NWR and John M. Patterson Elementary School and Penrose School. Refuge staff and classroom teachers work together to provide the entire 4th grade with a full year of inquiry-based and inclusive curriculum that culminates in student-designed environmental action projects.


Paid Summer Internships

Internship opportunities are available for high school, undergraduate and graduate students, and recent graduates.

High School Students

The refuge partners with MobilizeGreen to assemble crews of high school students in the spring, summer, and fall who have an interest in conservation and nature. Gain experience with trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, garden maintenance, and environmental education at the refuge and in the surrounding communities. Call the Visitor Center (215-365-3118) for more information.

College Students and Recent Graduates

1) Hispanic Access Foundation Internship 
 If you identify as Hispanic or Latine, consider applying for a Hispanic Access Foundation summer internship! Gain experience in visitor services, environmental education, and community engagement. You must be a US citizen or resident and Spanish-speaking skills are preferred. Learn more and apply here
2) Alliance for Watershed Education Fellowship 
 The Alliance for Watershed Education Fellowship is for college students and recent graduates interested in nature and conservation. Educate Southwest Philadelphia residents about the importance of keeping their watershed clean! You must be at least 18 years old by the start of the fellowship. Learn more and apply here. 
3) Student Conservation Association - Career Discovery Internship Program (CDIP) 
 CDIP is a partnership between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Student Conservation Association (SCA). It is for first and second year college students curious about a career in conservation. Applicants of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply! Learn more and apply here. 

Education Programs

Since its establishment in 1972, the refuge has worked with area educators to provide educational opportunities for their students. Our programs provide teachers with the information, skills, and resources to incorporate the environment into their curriculum and to utilize the Refuge as an outdoor classroom. Students engage in hands-on activities that inspire and connect them directly to nature. "Connecting People to Nature" is a national program and priority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Field Trips

Field trips to the refuge are free and typically self-guided. Depending on selected dates, rangers may be available to lead a refuge introduction or additional programming. Due to the high demand of our free field trip visits and limited space, all educators and group leaders are required to schedule their group's trip in advance with refuge staff. Even if you are visiting with a group on your own, please inform our staff! Daily group maximums are in place to prevent disturbance to wildlife.


Scheduling for September to December 2023 Field Tripswill open on August 7th. Email Environmental Education Specialist, Kelly Rudd, at kelly_kemmerle@fws.gov or call 215-365-3118 for more information. 

Homeschool Resources 

Homeschool families/groups are welcome to visit John Heinz NWR and encouraged to view it as an extension of their home classrooms. A number of resources are available for use by educators both on and off refuge. For more information contact Meagan at meagan_mendoza@fws.gov or 215-365-3118.

Loan Box

The refuge maintains two educational loan boxes, Mammals of Pennsylvania and Birds of Pennsylvania.  Each can be borrowed free of charge by area educators, scout groups, and homeschool co-ops.

Boxes may be borrowed for up to two weeks at a time and must be picked up from the refuge during normal business hours. Only one box per educator can be borrowed at a time. To request a box, email Kelly Quain at kelly_quain@fws.gov. Requests are fulfilled in the order in which they are received.