Ways to Get Involved

Getting involved with the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge is a special treat. Volunteers come together to assist in stewardship projects with not only the Refuge staff, but also California Department of Fish & Game, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and non-profits such as the Crestridge Ecological Reserve, the Earth Discovery Institute, and the Friends of San Diego Refuges


Do you live in San Diego? Do you want to give back and help the wildlife that live in the foothills? Then come volunteer with us!

Whether you like to get down in the dirt removing invasive weeds or hike the trails to capture professional-looking photographs of our unique wildlife, we could use your expertise! Most of the events are coordinated with our partners such as the Earth Discovery Institute.

Some of the activities the refuge needs help with are:

  • Special Events - education and outreach
  • Habitat Restoration
    • Weed-pulling
    • Planting of native trees and plants
    • Trash removal
  • Maintenance/Trail Work
    • Led by the Earth Discovery Institute, dedicated weekly volunteers come on Tuesday mornings to help with general maintenance and habitat restoration preparation at the Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve (please contact info@earthdiscovery.org)
    • Help maintain trails such as the Mother Miguel Trail, led by our partners at the San Diego Mountain Biking Association and Bonita Bikers.
  • Photography of threatened and endangered species 
  • Carpentry

Visit the Upcoming Events section to view events happening on this refuge or reach out to our refuge partner Earth Discovery Institute at info@earthdiscovery.org for more information.

All volunteers must first sign a Volunteer Services Agreement prior to participating on volunteer work on refuge lands. Here's a tutorial video on how to fill it out.

Our Partners

Refuge staff cooperates with and support partner agencies, organizations, and contractors in the implementation of region-wide projects that benefit the goals of multiple species conservation, and the long-term management of the plant and wildlife resources on the Refuge.  

The Refuge also provides logistical and permitting support for research projects that have the potential to benefit wildlife and habitat by improving our knowledge of ecology and management. 

By partnering with agencies such as Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Fish and Game, City of San Diego, City of Chula Vista, and County of San Diego, as well as with conservation organizations including Earth Discovery Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and Conservation Biology Institute, and by including community volunteers, the Refuge better achieves its goals of supporting the conservation of the rich biological diversity of the San Diego area.   

The following are a few of the partners that the San Diego NWR works with (and in no particular order):

  • Friends of San Diego Refuges
  • County of San Diego, and the Multiple Species Conservation Program 
  • City of San Diego
  • City of Chula Vista 
  • San Diego Association of Governments
  • Metropolitan Transit System
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
  • US Department of Transportation, Volpe Center 
  • San Diego Audubon Society 
  • California Department of Fish and Game 
  • California Department of Transportation
  • Endangered Habitats League
  • Earth Discovery Institute 
  • California Conservation Corps
  • US Bureau of Land Management
  • US Border Patrol
  • Water Conservation Garden
  • San Diego Mountain Biking Association
  • Bonita Bikers 


Most of the events are coordinated with our partners such as the Earth Discovery Institute. 

Education Programs

Youth Groups and Scout Troops

The San Diego National Wildlife Refuge nurtures projects and partnerships with local youth groups and scout troops.  Youth groups are a great and organized way of getting work done on-the-ground on the Refuge, and gets kids inspired to learn about careers with public lands.

The refuge surrounds communities in East County San Diego filled with schools, churches, boy and girl scout troops, and outdoors clubs that have interest in designing projects that directly benefit the Refuge.  Some of the activities done in the past have been projects in construction, maintenance, signage, and more. 

The Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is a 8-10 week Summer internship that employs six local high school students aged 15-18 years old, chosen by the Refuge Manager. Environmental awareness is an integral aspect of the YCC program, with projects embracing both work and environmental learning goals.

If you are interested in coordinating or assisting with a project such as an Eagle Scout or Girl Scout Gold Award, please contact the Refuge Manager Dwane Binns at Dwane_Binns@fws.gov or (619) 385-1190 

Junior Duck Stamp Contest
Calling all teachers or students K-12! Did you know you can participate on a nation wide art contest by drawing North American ducks? Use your skills to compete at the local level and possibly receive national recognition. Learn how you can get involved by visiting the official Junior Duck Stamp page