Ways to Get Involved

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. Master new skills. Meet new friends. Enjoy a sense of accomplishment from doing your part to further wildlife conservation for the pleasure of generations to follow. 

Volunteering

We are always looking for volunteers to assist with staffing our new visitor center, as well as maintenance/grounds-keeping positions.  

Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge has a variety of opportunities for volunteers.  In exchange for working three 8 hour days/week for a minimum of 3 months or maximum of 6 months, you will receive the following with no cost;

  • Full hookup (30 or 50 amp)
  • Concrete pad nestled near two refuge ponds
  • Laundry facility (on-site)  
  • Propane
  • Uniforms (t-shirts, white polo shirt, vest, ball-caps)
  • Wifi 
  • Awards may be available

Typically, two volunteer couples, or 3-4 singles, are needed throughout the summer.

Pets are welcomed, but must remain on a leash while outdoors.  

Typical Visitor Center Duties:

  • Greeting and assisting visitors  
  • Answering phones/taking messages and reservations  
  • Cleaning visitor center and maintenance shop office 
  • Organizing and light filing  
  • Assisting with environmental education programs
  • May be asked to lead hikes
  • Keeping brochure racks filled
  • Assisting staff with various projects

Typical Groundskeeper/handyman Duties:

  • Mowing with zero-turn mowers
  • Weed-eating
  • Spraying
  • Maintaining hiking trails (cleaning signs, using backpack blower, spraying, cutting vegetation, pressure washing boardwalk, etc.)
  • Maintaining bluebird boxes
  • Cleaning equipment 
  • Blowing off parking areas 
  • Picking up limbs
  • Sweeping shops
  • Assisting staff with various projects

Contact Refuge Ranger Tara Dowdy for specific duties for each season and for a video that shows the RV pads and Visitor Center!

Staff expects all volunteers to assist with refuge events, including but not limited to, the Annual Youth Fishing Rodeo, Jr. Ranger Camps, field trips, Handicapped Fishing Rodeo, canoe trips, etc. Volunteers may be asked to lead weekend hikes.  

Reelfoot NWR is located in northwest Tennessee, just a few miles from the TN/KY state line.  The refuge is approximately 15 minutes from Union City, where the newly constructed Discovery Park of America resides!  The refuge is only 10 minutes away from Tiptonville, which has several fantastic restaurants, the local Reelfoot Lake State Park museum, and more!  The refuge is only 45 minutes from Dyersburg, TN and 2 1/2 hours from Memphis, TN. 

The refuge is located on the northern portion of Reelfoot Lake.  Reelfoot Lake is a unique, majestic, and gorgeous area.  Formed by earthquakes in 1811-1812, this 15,000+ acre lake is a haven for duck hunters and fisherman.  Old growth bald cypress trees stand beautifully out of the waters of the lake.  Due to the Reelfoot area being a cypress swamp prior to the earthquakes, thousands of stumps hide just underneath the water, making Reelfoot Lake one of the best natural fish hatcheries in Tennessee.  The average depth of Reelfoot Lake is 5 ft, with the deepest areas being approximately 20 ft.  The infamous bald eagle calls Reelfoot Lake home.  Eagles are seen regularly throughout the year, but numbers increase during the winter as they migrate.  The refuge offers eagle tours during January and February, where, on average 40-70 eagles can be expected to be seen on a 3 hour tour.   

To apply, please print the volunteer application.  Send your application, along with three work references, to: 

Reelfoot NWR 

Attn:  Tara Dowdy

4343 Hwy 157

Union City, TN 38261

Volunteer Opportunities

This position (couple OR solo) is specifically to assist in our field trip season. Mid April through the end of June are very busy with field trips, offsite programs, a youth fishing rodeo, Jr. Ranger Camp, etc. The volunteer coordinator and volunteers are the only ones who conduct field trips....
We are looking for a retired couple that can work 3 days a week (8 hour days). Couples will work the same 3 consecutive days. One person keeps the Visitor Center open while the other does maintenance type work. Visitor Center - Greeting visitors, answering phones, taking messages, cleaning,...

Education Programs

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers a large variety of internship opportunities for enrolled high school and college students, as well as recent college graduates. An internship is a great way to get to know our agency and pursue full-time employment opportunities. 

Career Discovery Internship Program (CDIP) - This partnership with the Student Conservation Association is designed to introduce culturally and ethnically diverse college freshman and sophomores from all over the United States to careers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Greening Youth Foundation - Our partnership with Greening Youth Foundation seeks to expose the Service to the diverse communities local to national wildlife refuges in an effort to reach out to the local communities to promote environmental education, awareness of the agency, and career opportunities within the agency.

Pathways Internship Program - The Internship Program is designed to provide students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions with opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while still in school and while getting paid for the work performed. Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent job in the civil service.