Ways to Get Involved

Volunteers and Interns

Volunteers and interns realize various benefits from working at the refuge. Being involved with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency dedicated to the principle of resource conservation, is both satisfying and rewarding. Others find the duties fulfilling and challenging as old talents are employed and new skills acquired. To most, however, the motive is enjoyment, as volunteer work can be just plain fun. They provide much needed assistance with refuge projects and are often able to complete work that refuge staff would be unable to do without them. The hours, work assignments, et cetera are tailored to meet the needs of both the refuge staff and the volunteer or intern. Refuge housing and a stipend are available to qualified interns and volunteers.

Our volunteer program is open to all. Those under 18 years of age, however, need written permission from their parent or guardian.

Various opportunities exist at the refuge for volunteers/interns to gain valuable and rewarding experience. They assist refuge employees by working in such fields as:

  • Interpretation: Through such activities as nature walks, talks, slide programs and visitor center information duty, volunteers/interns help visitors understand and appreciate both the natural and cultural history of the refuge as well as provide information on the recreational and educational opportunities available.
  • Environmental Education: Assisting environmental education specialists with workshops, local fairs, field trips and special projects are a few of the volunteer/intern duties at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Resource Management: Qualified individuals may assist wildlife biologists in such areas as wildlife surveys, airboat runs, endangered species monitoring and other projects.
  • Maintenance: Volunteers/interns may help refuge employees in general tasks such as landscape maintenance, sign installation, gate painting, construction and routine vehicle maintenance.
  • Native Plant Nursery: Volunteers/interns germinate seeds, propagate cuttings, transplant seedlings, prune, fertilize and water plants, and plant and nurture new native plants in the field as part of the refuge's habitat restoration mission.  

Youth Conservation Corps

Get paid to do conservation work at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sites, including national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries. Help restore habitat for native plants and animals, improve public access trails and fight invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
and gain valuable work skills that can help you get your next job.

The Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is a summer youth employment program that engages young people in meaningful work experiences on public lands while developing an ethic of environmental stewardship and civic responsibility. YCC programs are generally 8 to 10 weeks long. Participants are paid the minimum wage for a 40-hour work week. Most YCC opportunities are non-residential programs that provide paid daytime work.

Youth, 15 through 18 years of age, who are permanent residents of the United States, are eligible for employment without regard to social, economic, racial or ethnic backgrounds. Youth with physical or other challenges who can effectively participate in most YCC activities are eligible. Participants must have no history of serious criminal or other antisocial behavior that might endanger their safety or that of others. Participants also must have or be able to obtain a work permit as required under the laws of their state and have a social security number or applied for one.

Youth Conservation Corps members work in healthful outdoor settings on a range of projects including building trails, maintaining fences, improving wildlife habitat, conducting environmental education, restoring streams. You'll also participate in educational field trips on which you’re likely to see wildlife or history, explore the natural landscape or gaze at an ancient ruin.

For further information or to receive an application, contact the refuge at 760-348-5278.  

Our Partners

The National Wildlife Refuge System is committed to building partnerships that encourage the conservation and preservation of our natural and cultural resources. Partnerships with the Refuge System bring innovative approaches to solving land management and water disputes in the most environmentally protective manner. Scientifically informed and technologically-based stewardship of our public lands, waters, wildlife, and special places must be collaborative efforts between the Refuge System, other government agencies, and private organizations if conservation efforts are to succeed.

The Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Complex has several partnerships. We partner with The Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center, the Sea and Desert Interpretive Association, the California Department of Water Resources, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, neighboring Duck Clubs and farmers, and the Center for Natural Lands Management. The Sea and Desert Interpretive Association supports the natural history interpretation of the Salton Sea. Through this non-profit association, our facility can operate a bookstore where we offer educational materials and souvenirs.