Ways to Get Involved
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mission is to work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We invite you to join us in conserving wildlife and wild places for today and generations to come by volunteering at a Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. Volunteering at a National Wildlife Refuge is a great way to give back to your community, develop new skills, and meet new people.
If you are passionate about native Hawaiian species and helping people appreciate the outdoors, Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge is looking for interested individuals to join our volunteer team. We offer hands-on learning opportunities, meaningful outdoor experiences, and a unique wetland environment teeming with birds, insects, and plants.
Who May Volunteer?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service welcomes volunteers of all backgrounds and abilities. Volunteers may lead wildlife tours, restore habitat, conduct plant and animal surveys, help staff a refuge nature store, and so much more. While there is no age limit, anyone under 18 years of age must have written approval from a parent/guardian. Organized groups including schools, summer camps, corporate workdays, and families are also welcome.
Current Volunteer Opportunities
Visitor Center Docent
Our Visitor Center serves as the gateway to the refuge. As they are often the first person that our guests encounter, our Visitor Center docents are integral to our visitor experience. They help orient visitors to the various options for experiencing the refuge, provide directions to nature trails and other visitor facilities, help with bird and plant identification, interpret the Visitor Center exhibits, and complete sales from the Friends of Keālia Pond Nature Store.
Roving Interpretive Docent
Our roving docents roam the nature trails or position at key locations to ensure guests don’t miss any special avian visitors or other refuge highlights. They help increase public awareness and understanding of the National Wildlife Refuge System, native Hawaiian animals, plant, and other wetland, and share their knowledge and enthusiasm for the Keālia Pond and wildlife conservation. Volunteers may choose to rove at the Keālia Coastal Boardwalk located along North Kihei Road or at the Kanuimanu Ponds Wildlife Viewing Area. No experience is necessary, only a love for nature and willingness to learn and interact with guests.
Greenhouse volunteers are the foundation of our habitat restoration efforts. They collect seeds, propagate and germinate native plants, and tend to plants in the Refuge nursery until they are ready for planting in our wetlands or native dry forest restoration area. Greenhouse volunteers also assist with potting plants as well as greenhouse care and maintenance. Although our volunteers often bring experience from home gardening, refuge staff also provide additional training, as needed.
Habitat Restoration Volunteer
Habitat restoration volunteers contribute to protecting and enhancing the refuge’s native plant community. Volunteers will usually work alongside refuge staff to outplant and care for native plant species and remove invasive plants during our regular Thursday morning volunteer day. Or if they prefer, they may also choose to help maintain our native plant gardens around the Visitor Center. This is a rewarding option for volunteers looking to learn more about Hawaii’s native plants and endangered ecosystems.
Volunteers with unique skills are always needed for special projects, including carpentry, facility maintenance, graphic design, websites and social media, visual arts, or photography. If you have a special skill that you would like to offer, please let us know by filling a volunteer application.
How to Apply?
If you are interested in any of these volunteer positions, please submit a Volunteer Application to email@example.com or stop by our Visitor Center during open hours. For more information please contact us at 808-875-1582.
Nature does not recognize human-made boundaries. In order to conserve our natural and cultural resources effectively, we must work with others to bridge these boundaries. Partnerships foster creative solutions to challenging situations and often the results are greater than the sum of the parts. Learn more about our local partners.
Become a Refuge Friend
Friends of Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge is a nonprofit organization formed in 2014 to support and advocate for the Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. The Friends help recruit volunteers to staff the refuge Visitor Center and operate our nature store. To learn more visit: friendsofkealiapond.org/
Partnerships with local education organizations provide the refuge with interpretive and hands-on opportunities for students by way of a Special Use Permit. These programs have quality wetlands curricula covering the ecology and biology of the refuge and are popular with the local teachers.
Arrangements can be made directly with the organizations:
Hawai‘i Nature Center
875 Iao Valley Road
Wailuku, HI 96793
Maui Digital Bus
1305 North Holopono St., Suite 3
Kihei, HI 96753
The Maui National Wildlife Refuge Complex office participates in the Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES) based at the University of Hawai‘i Hilo campus. As a mentoring agency, we support the program’s mission: “linking undergraduates to environmental careers; mentoring the next generation of scientists, educators and managers for Hawai‘i’s and the Pacific’s future”. The 10-week program (June-August) provides students an opportunity to work at the refuge and obtain the experience and knowledge necessary for careers in the field of natural resources.
Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science
University of Hawai‘i Hilo
200 W. Kawili St.
Hilo, HI 96720
Come join us for a free guided bird walk or interpretive program. Join our Jr. Ranger Program or enjoy hands-on learning activities.
Keālia Pond NWR environmental education programs engage learners of all ages and align with Science Standards to help reinforce ecological concepts students are learning in the classroom. To learn more or request a Ranger led program at the Refuge please follow the instructions on the For Educators tab (link). Keep us in mind for career days and conservation events too!