Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region

Get Involved

National Wildlife Refuges do not stand alone in the effort to preserve our nation's wild things. Many organizations and individuals contribute thousands of hours to our wildlife refuges and local communities by planting trees, battling invasive species, and by providing visitor outreach and education programs. Friends groups serve as advocates for our refuges and natural areas at the local, regional, and national level. With these extra voices and hands at work, today's conservation projects are making a difference on our refuges and for our wildlife.

Why become a volunteer at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge?

Besides being part of the conservation effort by restoring and protecting habitat and educating and inspiring the public, volunteers also enjoy the following personal benefits:

  • Go behind the scenes and see undisturbed wildlife as you work in closed areas to protect and restore habitat.
  • Participate in special events and projects offered only to current volunteers and Friends members.
  • Be appreciated with food, prizes, and good company at volunteer appreciation events.
  • Get free education at volunteer training events with staff and guest speakers teaching about refuge history, culture, flora and fauna, and what you can do to keep this place a great destination for animals and humans alike.
  • Free Interagency Pass to those who reach 250 hours.
  • Gain skills and contacts that will improve your life both professionally and personally for many years to come.Refuge volunteers help remove Ricefield Bulrush, an invasive species of plant from refuge wetlands

There are opportunities for every interest at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Click one of the links below to find out more!

Other opportunities to get involved:

For more information about volunteering contact: Josie Finley, Volunteer Coordinator; 360-887-4106/Josie_Finley@fws.gov.


Habitat Restoration Activities

Refuge volunteers help remove Ricefield Bulrush, an invasive species of plant from refuge wetlands

Spring and summer volunteer work parties are scheduled to remove plants and improve the health of Refuge habitat. Volunteer work parties are scheduled for Wednesdays and Saturdays from late June to mid-September. This is a great opportunity to explore various areas of the refuge, give back to the environment, and enjoy the season. For more information about habitat restoration events visit our restoration flyer.

All work days are from 9 am to 12:30 pm.
Wear waterproof footwear and bring work gloves.

For more information or to sign up contact:
Lynn_Cornelius@fws.gov; 360-887-3883 x14


Other habitat restoration projects:

Interested in other habitat work? We have a variety of other projects and programs going on year-round. Other volunteer work may occur on an as-needed basis, so let us know your availability and special skills or experience. Learn more about other projects by looking at our updated 2013-2015 Volunteer Opportunity Flyer.

NOTE: All volunteers must fill out a volunteer services agreement (VSA) before participating in volunteer events. People under 18 years of age must have their parents sign the VSA. Forms are available on the day of the event, or save time by downloading them here: volunteer services agreement.

Click here for other, non-mandatory volunteer forms.

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Cultural and Environmental Education

The time is now! Volunteers are needed all year to help guide schools, scouts, daycares, families, and more!

Over 4,000 students, teachers, and chaperones visit the refuge annually to participate in the education programs on the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. The demand for this free and diverse program is going up every year and it is only sustainable with the participation of the many dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers.

Education volunteers help to supplement and enhance traditional classroom teaching by engaging students outside on trails and exploring inside the Plankhouse. Through prescheduled field trips, students of all ages and backgrounds get to see and become inspired by the real world that they are learning about in their studies. Volunteers facilitate this process through their interest in the subjects and enthusiasm for learning and exploring.

No experience necessary!

We need volunteers of all types, from those wanting to share their expertise, to those interested in learning something new.

Upcoming Training Opportunities in Education.

Education volunteers can start at anytime of the year, getting individual training through direct instruction and shadowing of other volunteers. The following are training opportunities that volunteers can start with, or use to enhance their skills and knowledge throughout the year.

For more information about volunteering contact: Josie Finley, Volunteer Coordinator; 360-887-4106/Josie_Finley@fws.gov.

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Cultural Interpretation



Plankhouse opens April 20th!

Join us on April 21st for cultural and environmental activities to celebrate both the Plankhouse opening and Earth Day 2013!



The Cathlapotle Plankhouse is a full-scale Chinookan Plankhouse located on the Carty Unit of the refuge. It was built based on archaeological evidence from the Cathlapotle archaeological site located on the refuge property. This archaeological site is what remains of the town of Cathlapotle, a Chinookan town encountered by Lewis and Clark on their expedition.

The Plankhouse and the objects inside of it offer a tangible link to those who lived here in the past and provides a unique site for the interpretation of the natural and cultural heritage preserved on Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

The Plankhouse is staffed by volunteer docents on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 4pm, April to October. With out these volunteers, visitors miss out on this amazing educational experience. Docent training is held in the spring, however volunteers can start anytime, getting individual training through direct instruction and shadowing of other volunteers.

Train to be a volunteer Plankhouse Docent on April 13th from 9am to 3 pm.

Contact the Plankhouse Coordinator at Sarah_Hill@fws.gov or 360-887-4106 for details.

See the Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Plankhouse Volunteer Opportunities page for more details.


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Refuge Greeters

Over 120,000 visitors flock to the refuge annually to enjoy nature through participation in wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, cultural interpretation, hunting, and fishing. The Refuge System calls these "The Big Six" and has put priority on them for those refuges that are compatible. Here at Ridgefield we are lucky to have them all! But all of this could not be possible without the help of volunteers.

Volunteers help to greet and inform visitors at the Visitor Contact Station, on the Auto Tour Route, and on refuge trails. Many visitors show up by chance, not knowing what to expect, and without the help of friendly volunteers many visitors go home without realizing all that they missed with their untrained eyes.

If you have an interest in nature and want to help others practice their observation skills while learning and seeing more yourself, than this position is for you!

No experience necessary. Shifts are flexible.

For more information about volunteering contact: Josie Finley, Volunteer Coordinator; 360-887-4106/Josie_Finley@fws.gov.

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Become a Friend of the Ridgefield NWR

The Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting educational programs, increasing public awareness and cultural resources of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. To learn more about this important organization and to see a calendar of refuge volunteer and other events follow this link: Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

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Volunteer/Partnership Opportunities

If you'd like to help the Refuge, Contact Us about becoming a refuge volunteer, a member of the non-profit Friends of Ridgefield NWR group, or if you belong to an organization interested in forming a partnership with the Refuge.

Periodically, the Refuge staff will host a volunteer training session or will seek help through internships. Check the Special Events, Programs & Refuge News section of this website for more information.

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Employment Opportunities

If you are looking for a career with the Fish and Wildlife Service and would like an updated list of employment opportunities, visit USAJOBS website. Listing on this website include job vacancies for all Federal agencies.

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Join the Citizen Science Revolution

Gather scientific data from your local community and join a growing network of citizen scientists around the world. By banding together, observers around the globe can collect information on a large enough spatial scale to be useful in address pressing issues such as; climate change.

While there are many citizen science programs available, here is one that is timely with spring and the arrival of migrant osprey; http://www.osprey-watch.org. Osprey are one of very few truly global sentinels for aquatic health. They feed almost exclusively on live fish throughout their entire life cycle. They are a top consumer within aquatic ecosystems and are very sensitive to both over fishing and environmental contaminants. Nearly all populations breed in the northern latitudes and winter in the southern latitudes, effectively linking the aquatic health of the hemispheres. Their breeding season in the north is highly seasonal making them an effective barometer of climate change. Adopt an osprey at your local river, lake, or recreation area and record their nesting activities over the summer. Then record your observations with those of other citizen scientists.

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Volunteer Forms

Volunteer Service Agreement **required**: Anyone volunteering for Natural Resource Agencies such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service must have a volunteer service agreement filled out and renewed each year. This is a very easy form that protects you as a volunteer while out on the Refuge volunteering.

Volunteer Time Sheet **required**: The time and effort that you donate to the Refuge is priceless to us and the wildlife and habitat that you support. But did you know that you are also donating cash for each hour you spend here? When you volunteer our agency and our Friends group can use your time in grant applications as matching donations to get more funding for habitat projects, education, and much much more. Plus, if you don't record your hours we will never know how to properly thank you through our gifts and recognition. For example, 25 hours gets you an invitation to the annual catered recognition dinner, and 500 hours gets you a free yearly pass to all public lands! These are just a few of the benefits given to dedicated volunteers so fill your time sheet out monthly and turn it into the Refuge!

Volunteer Application: If you are interested in joining our volunteer team but are not sure what you would like to do because you have a variety of interests, please fill out this volunteer application so we can see what opportunities will be the best fit for you. This also helps us when we have new types of volunteer jobs come up and we are looking for someone with specialized experience. Note that not all jobs on this form are currently offered on the Refuge as this is a nationwide form used by all Natural Resource Agencies.

Photo Release Form: A photo says and thousand words! And photos of volunteers say a lot about how special this community and Refuge is. We use pictures taken during volunteer events to show those inside and outside the agency what a asset our volunteers are and how we could never do all the good things we do without them. If you are okay with us using your image to promote our volunteer program please fill out this photo release form. You can even specify what type of publications you are comfortable being in and what you are not, and we can inform you when your picture is being used.

Volunteer Manual (May 2013): Read this if you are, or want to be, a volunteer. Learn about the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Refuge System, as well as information specific to Ridgefield and the refuge volunteer program.

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Last updated: May 15, 2013