Conserving the Nature of America

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IMAGINE banding birds at a national wildlife refuge, raising fish at a national fish hatchery, conducting wildlife surveys, leading a tour, or restoring fragile habitat.

With close to 42,000 volunteers contributing in excess of 1.5 million hours, our volunteers perform a wide variety of tasks. Some work full-time, some just a few hours a week or month, or during a particular season or special event.

Our volunteers are individuals who want to give back to their communities, parents who want to be good stewards of the land and set examples for their children, retired people willing to share their wealth of knowledge, concerned citizens of all ages who want to learn more about conservation, and passionate people who enjoy the outdoors and want to spread the word about America's greatest natural treasures.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2017 Friends and Volunteer of the Year recipients. Read more about these amazing people.

Photography volunteer at Upper Mississippi River Refuge
2016 Volunteer of the Year Ann Humphrey, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge
Fish and Aquatic Conservation Biologist and Volunteer measuring snapping turtle at Tishoming National Fish Hatchery
Volunteers Help with Blue Bird boxes at Ennis
National Fish Hatchery

Teen Spreads the Word on Marine Debris

RV volunteers, Moapa Valley Refuge, NV

Manatee watch, Chassahowitzka Refuge, FL

Fence removal, Desert Refuge, NV

Assisting with banding

Trash removal, Edwin B Forsythe Refuge, NJ

Why I Volunteer

Richard Esker: The Volunteer of the Year Award

Friends of Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge:
The Molly Krival Friends Group of the Year Award

Richard Esker, a volunteer at the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia, is the recipient of the 2017 Refuge System Volunteer of the Year Award, which recognizes outstanding accomplishments of volunteers in support of the operation and management of the National Wildlife Refuge System. A retired engineer, Dick has been a dedicated volunteer, logging more than 11,645 hours since 2003 and using his expertise to design elegant solutions when given a task or objective to accomplish. The variety of his projects includes design and construction of kiosks, aquaculture systems, a tree nursery bed, bird and bat boxes, visitor center aquarium, refuge information signs and maps and more! Innovation and critical thinking comes naturally to Dick, making him an essential asset to the team at the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge. His creativity, positive attitude, patience, and diligence are an inspiration to all who are privileged to work beside him. The Friends of Trempealeau NWR in Wisconsin, is our 2017 Molly Krival Refuge System Friends Group of the Year, named to honor the late Molly Krival, a pioneer in the Refuge Friends Group movement. The award recognizes outstanding contributions by a group of dedicated volunteers in Friends organizations who provide essential services to their refuge and the Refuge System. In 2016, the Friends of the Trempealeau NWR worked tirelessly to construct the Outdoor Wonders Learning Center, an environmental education classroom for the more than 4,000 school children that visit the refuge every year. Friends work side-by-side with the visitor services staff to provide for the needs of visitors including school children, disabled hunters, birders, bicyclists, and tourists. They work with maintenance staff to pull, spray, cut and mow invasive plants and they work with the refuge manager to strengthen the relationship between the refuge and the surrounding communities. They have worked tirelessly to help their refuge grow and prosper, and we are proud to present them with this award.
Last updated: April 24, 2017
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