Love wildlife? Want to meet people with like interests? Become a Refuge volunteer and you will satisfy both needs.
Greet guests at the Visitor & Education Center. Educate visitors on Wildlife Drive. Help out in the Refuge Nature Store. Instill children with a love of nature.
Help out at "Ding" Darling Days or other special events. Lend a hand stuffing envelopes or making decorations.
There are a hundred ways we can put your specific skills to task making the Refuge run more smoothly.
We need short-term, seasonal and year-round volunteers.
"Ding" Darling Wildlife Society needs volunteers for specific events and fundraisers, plus programs and other short-term projects.These can include outreach both on and off site. Some of the Refuge's annual celebrations include National Fishing Week, Go Wild for "Ding" Party, tarpon tournament, and "Ding" Darling Days.
We encourage volunteers of all ages. Volunteers under age 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
Student volunteer days are set up throughout the school year to help students fulfill required community service hours.
If you're the type who is unable to commit to regular weekly volunteering hours, please call Birgie Miller at 239-292-0566 or email for more information on short-term volunteering at J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
The J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge has a very successful volunteer program. Starting in 1982 with one volunteer, the program now has more than 280 volunteers who perform a wide array of duties for the Refuge. Volunteering generally involves working a 3- to 3.5-hour shift once a week; although, some volunteers work more due to multiple duties they enjoy performing.
Volunteers currently serve in the following areas of the Refuge:
Visitor & Education Center Information Desk
At the desk, volunteers orient visitors as to what is available for them to see and do at the Refuge, present our short orientation film, and rove the Education Center answering questions about the wildlife and exhibits.
Refuge Nature Store
Volunteers operate the cash register in the store. This register is equipped with a scanner and is easily operated by any novice. Click HERE for a Nature Store volunteer application.
Roving volunteers venture onto Wildlife Drive or the Bailey Tract in a vehicle, electric car, golf cart, or on bicycle and identify wildlife species and answer general informational questions for visitors. This duty is very important to the Refuge because for some visitors, the volunteers are the only official staff they will encounter. These volunteers act as tools for the Service, providing interpretation to the visiting public about the Service, the wildlife, and how important it is to protect this vital habitat.
Many visitor inquiries come to the Refuge by telephone. Generally, volunteers staff the telephones from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. This allows for two 4-hour shifts.
We need smiling faces to welcome visitors to the Refuge. Duties include sitting at the bottom of the boardwalk ramp to greet and orientate visitors to the Visitor & Education Center. The greeter program runs from January to March, and there are three shifts available: 9am-noon, noon-3pm, and 3pm-5pm.
We conduct many studies here on the Refuge. Volunteers help the biology staff with collecting and compiling data. They also assist in exotic vegetation removal.
Volunteers do everything from mowing grass, painting, and blowing leaves from paths to repairing trails and removing exotic plants and discarded monofilament line. Our maintenance volunteers help keep the Refuge in tip-top shape.
Hundreds of school children experience the Refuge through our environmental educator with the help of volunteers. These volunteers assist with everything from teaching children how to identify birds to reading stories and making wildlife art. Click HERE for information on becoming an Education Resident Volunteer.
If you are interested in becoming a Refuge volunteer, contact Jeff Combs, Refuge volunteer coordinator, at 239-472-1100 ext. 222, or complete the volunteer application and return it to the Refuge Visitor & Education Center.