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Volunteer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Updated on August 18, 2015

Travel With Purpose

Do you love the outdoors? Do you want to give back to your country and set an example for your children? Perhaps you are concerned about conservation and want to learn more about what you can do to help. Maybe you just want to spend more time at a favorite National Park. Whatever the reason, an opportunity might be right in your backyard at one of over five hundred wildlife refuges and hatcheries in the United States through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Nearly 42,000 volunteers offer time by performing a wide variety of tasks. You might lead a tour, band ducks, count fish, take pictures, fix a computer or even do office work. It all adds up to over 1.5 million hours of volunteered time. Different from other companies that offer scheduled or packaged programs, there are two types of volunteering for the U.S.F.W.S.: you can work three months during the summer at national sites or you can check with a refuge or hatchery that sparks your interest to see if they have shorter projects. Any volunteer hours are always welcome.

Types of Projects

Projects vary widely with each location. There are volunteer opportunities in every state including Alaska and Hawaii. There are no special programs like tour companies offer. However, there are some specific jobs, particularly during the summer such as camp host and tour leaders. Click here for a list of refuges and hatcheries. You can check out the programs at the sites you are interested in. You will need to contact them for current specific project needs. Some projects include:

  • Document seabirds
  • Patrol the beach for sea turtles
  • Assist with airboat surveys
  • Assist with weed removal
  • Lead educational tours
  • Be a camp host
  • Work in a bookstore
  • Work on a biological study
  • Work on office computers

Read Up on Volunteer Vacations


There are projects in every state in the United States at wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries. Click here for a list. When you click on a refuge or fish hatchery, you will get a description of the opportunities available.

Quality of Life

Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It's important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It's the way in which we ourselves grow and develop.

Dr. Dorothy I. Height

Time Commitment

Summer projects are typically 2-3 months or longer.

You would need to contact the refuge or hatchery you are interested in to see if they have short term projects when you are planning to visit.

Projects can be any time of the year.

Hard Day at Work

Skills Required

No special skills are required. Training is provided.

However, if you have a particular skill you would like to offer such as computer technicians or teachers, the various agencies would be happy to match you up with an opportunity.


Housing is not always provided. If it is, it will be basic such as a rustic cabin, trailer, tent or bunkhouse.

Meals are not included.

Fish and Wildlife Service Relocates Sea Turtle Nests


There is no fee to volunteer.

However, sometimes you are required to join a "friends of" organization for a one-time fee. This fee is typically nominal.

Do You Live Near a Wildlife Refuge or Fish Hatchery?

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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Volunteering for a good cause is important. Many organizations need m ore hands on deck to run better. Plus it is a way to give back. I used to go camping and mountain climbing when I was younger. The outdoors is close to my heart. It's nice to see others having the same care and love for it.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      When I was a boy - long time back - my father used to work for the Forest Service. First California and then Nevada. I LOVED the summers when I could spend time with him on the job. I'm with you on this one. It's good work and a great contribution. Thanks.

    • w3bmast3r lm profile image

      w3bmast3r lm 

      5 years ago

      we have a great fish hatchery program here in Ballarat I met one of the volunteers last week


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