National Wildlife Refuge System
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Volunteers at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in 2009
Volunteers at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in 2009 complete the refuge's first fully accessible hiking trail by building a raised walkway and interpretive route along a section of wetland forest.
Credit: American Hiking Society

Blaze a Trail This Summer — or Anytime

If you are looking for an alternative to sitting around at the beach or poolside on your next vacation, here's a more active, conservation-minded option: Spend some time volunteering on a National Wildlife Refuge. Many refuges around the country offer volunteers the opportunity to band birds, conduct wildlife surveys, lead tours or rebuild trails. Depending on your location, you can work full-time, part-time or seasonally. Some refuges require a commitment of just two weeks, some longer.

Volunteers can get free RV hook-ups on some refuges; others provide full apartments. While there is no age limit, anyone under 18 must have a parent's or guardian's written permission.

For example, the American Hiking Society is seeking volunteers for two special refuge–based projects this summer — one during August at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia, and one in September at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Maine.

The following Web sites offer a full list of the Service's refuge–based volunteer opportunities:


The Canaan Valley team will be reconstructing a high–elevation trail. The Moosehorn team will perform routine trail maintenance. Trip registration is $245 for AHS members, $275 for non–members. For more information and to register, visit:

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