Helping Us Help Wildlife
With more than 38,000 volunteers
contributing in excess of 1.5 million hours
of their time, skills and talents last year, the
Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) volunteer
program is robust and continues to grow.
Our volunteers contribute time equal to that
of more than 800 full-time employees.
Volunteers play a vital role in helping the
FWS fulfill its mission of conserving,
protecting and enhancing America’s fish,
wildlife and plants and their habitats.
What is the Volunteer Program?
The volunteer program within the FWS
provides people with hands-on opportunities
to engage in wildlife conservation on lands
that belong to them. The program was
formally initiated in 1982, and began
receiving congressionally appropriated
funding in 1991. The program is as diverse
as the individuals who comprise it. Whether
volunteers are working at wildlife refuges,
fish hatcheries, wetland management
districts, regional offices, or ecological
service offices, each one helps the National
Wildlife Refuge System and other FWS
programs reach their full potential.
Volunteers at Eastern Neck NWR (MD) work on
completing the interpretive Bayview Butterfly Trail.
Volunteer of all ages assist Sherburne NWR (MN) with
their pest plant program by digging and potting 300
purple loosestrife plants for use in beetle production.
What authorizes the FWS to accept volunteers?
The Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C.
742), as amended by the Fish and Wildlife
Improvement Act of 1978 (Pub. L. 95616) and
the National Wildlife Refuge System Volunteer
and Community Partnership Enhancement Act
of 1998 (Pub. L. 105242), authorizes us to
accept volunteer services.
Who are our volunteers?
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
What do our volunteers do?
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.
Some typical volunteer opportunities may involve:
! conducting fish and wildlife population
! leading tours and providing information
and interpretation to the visiting public
and school groups
! assisting with laboratory research
! taking part in special projects, such as
! assisting with habitat improvement
projects, such as re-establishing native
plants to a river bank
! performing clerical and administrative
! working with computers and other
! photographing a variety of natural and
Generally, no special skills are required to be a
volunteer. Any on-the-job training is provided if
needed. Individual talents and skills are matched
with volunteer interests and work opportunities.
Volunteer at Agassiz NWR (MN) with captured American
How do I find out about volunteer opportunities
with the FWS?
Volunteer opportunities with the FWS can be found
at Volunteer.Gov/Gov (http://www.volunteer.Gov/
gov/), an interagency web site of national volunteer
opportunities. At this site, prospective volunteers
can also apply to opportunities of interest.
Prospective volunteers can also visit the FWS’
volunteer website (http://volunteers. fws.gov/) or
call 1-800-344-WILD (9453) to find out more about
available FWS volunteer opportunities and to learn
more about past accomplishments under the
A volunteer at the Northeast Fishery Center (PA) holds a 6-
year old Atlantic sturgeon as she prepares to study the fish in
its natural habitat.
Volunteers at Chincoteague NWR (VA) reconstruct a wildlife
observation platform on the refuge’s marsh trail.
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