What volunteer work do you do?

Hi there everyone.

Every so often I go volunteering at quail island, which is a small island in Littleton - Canterbury.
-you can find out more about it here
There we will do things like planting native trees, releasing, and getting rid of thistles.

What volunteering do you do and what does it involve?


I have recently volunteered with our local aviation museum in the form of transcribing interviews with pilots - mostly recorded when they were in their 80s, to record their memories of their training time and other experiences.

I also volunteer quite a lot on Zooniverse, which is a citizen science platform used to host a wide range of projects. For example, I count penguins (in pictures) for Penguin Watch, I identify and count other animals for projects that use trail cameras, I transcribe herbarium labels and labels for other collections (including a large collection of aquarium specimens), and help transcribe correspondence from the 1700s and 1800s for digitization. I’ve also been working on a project to identify white blood cell types in monkeys. There are a variety of projects related to space and physics, but I don’t do those ones because it’s not really my area of strength/interest. All the projects on Zooniverse have clear instructions and tutorials for the volunteers, and you can do them all from home, which has been great during the pandemic! It’s also great during my winter months when I’m not very active with iNat observations.

Your Quail Island volunteering sounds lovely. I haven’t heard of any similar projects of that nature in this area. There are some projects to count loons on lakes, and to monitor owl calls, but none that are in my area - I’d have to do hours of driving to participate, which makes it less appealing.


I’ve been doing pro bono consulting for several local conservation land trusts for years. We’ve helped preserve some of Ontario’s most endangered habitats. It’s honestly the most rewarding thing I do.


I try to do similar projects when I get the chance… that seems to have not been very often lately. Going to help destroy bush honeysuckle this weekend though. Hopefully there will be some good tree planting activities in Spring to work with, too. I cannot wait to retire and be able to do more volunteer work.
I consider identifying for iNat volunteering and it’s pretty nice because you can volunteer five or ten minutes of your time when you don’t have anything else to do. And that brought me into contact with the iMapInvasives group and now I also volunteer recording observations of invasives into their database in my spare time also.


Trail work, for National Trails Day and 14ers.org

Science fair and science Olympiad through UNM https://stemed.unm.edu/

Neighborhood ambassador for https://friendsofvalledeoro.org/abq-backyard-refuge/


I used to volunteer for the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority as a docent, but not lately. I miss it; but some of the requirements instituted several years back set the bar too high for my comfort zone. I still volunteer for a pet rescue based in Half Moon Bay, Ca.


We are disabled from mental illness and are afraid to be around people, in person and even on Zoom and such. This forum is the bravest we get and the most connection we have to the world. We don’t watch news programs or read news stories because we find them too triggering. So our way to be involved is living our values through signing petitions and spreading those petitions to our immediate family, who sometimes share our values and sometimes post things on their social media accounts.

Issues we sign petitions about: clemency and abolishing the death penalty in USA via Death Penalty Action; anti-racism via Black Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter Political Action Committee; Environmental causes via Earthjustice and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. It’s interesting how and when these causes intersect because racism is pervasive.


I’d say I do enough identifying on iNat for it to qualify as volunteer work.


I design and take care of, the plantings/gardens outside the apartment building I live in. I also try to take care of the “orphaned” tree pits on my block as best as I can. And I created and take care of a traffic Island garden on 1st Ave at 77th Street.

I am the volunteer naturalist for Carl Schurz Park here in NYC. The volunteer gardeners often ask me about plant pests and plant diseases they come across in the park.

Sometimes I give guided nature walks in Carl Schurz Park, and also sometimes in Randalls Island Park.

Every time I visit Sanibel Island in Florida, I search for and find some rare and interesting shells, which I donate to the Bailey Matthews National Shell Museum.

When I visit Southern California, San Diego County, my favorite beach is Swami’s in Encinitas/Cardiff. I always ask the lifeguard for a trash bag and then I walk the beach picking up every piece of trash I can find, large or small, from the cliff to the water’s edge.

In my life so far I have had 58 papers published. My research is all self-funded and self-designed. it is all nature-based, and it is mostly on mollusks. Most of the papers are peer-reviewed.

From 1999 onward, for more than 10 years I volunteered behind the scenes at the American Museum of Natural History here in NYC, in malacology, and then in invertebrate paleontology. I now have AMNH Volunteer Emeritus status.

I also do a lot of ID-ing on iNat, and curating too.


I spent almost a decade in Cave Rescue, until I experienced assault and the person was not held accountable nor kicked off the team. Sadly, a common story for women and queer people in technical rescue. Since walking off that team, I have started to try to really reach out to other underrepresented and often unwelcomed groups into the cave world, especially multiply marginalized. I help Black Adventure Crew locally, and they do amazing work promoting black and bipoc people getting outside - and now underground too! If the white cis male world hates me, I don’t want my skills to go to waste and wish to share them with anyone who wants to learn.

I am still on the K9 SAR team, almost 8 years of K9 SAR, we do wilderness area live find and are certified through NASAR. If any ya get lost in the woods, folk like me will be the ones finding you :)

Most of the cave bio work I am involved in is unpaid or just raw-cost-paid (eg. travel cost covered), there just isn’t a lot of money in it, and I could not ‘make a living’ at it even if I wanted to so that probably falls somewhere on the cusp of volunteer too. Especially when I take time off of my steady work job to do it!

I also sometimes volunteer with Wild South which does trash cleanups, I did a mine site survey last year, and trail maintenance in the wilderness areas here. Sometimes trash cleanups need haul systems (hello cave rescue skills, the technical rope skills), and the survey is also cave/caving skills being put to use elsewhere.

Between everything, I spend 8-20 hours a week volunteering, average somewhere between 10-12 hours. If I actually made what the federal govt says a volunteer hour is worth…damn…I wish! frick capitalism. >_< I’m lucky / privledged to be in a position where I can take such time of my life to volunteer though.


It’s not much, but I have been volunteering at our state Museum for the past 2 years to help educate the public about all the wildlife in the state, mostly endangered species. I have also been graced to work with Gopher tortoises and Indigo snakes as education animals. This past summer I was a camp counselor, doing essentially the same things, educating and leading hikes with the kids.

I have also volunteered in beach cleanup along the gulf, only once so far, but plan on doing it more this year. Also plan on submitting my application to volunteer at a close zoo or some other conservation initiative in the state that I haven’t decided on yet. I have wanted to volunteer in helping an endangered frog species but the timing has never lined up.


I’m a volunteer with:

  • MPA Watch (taking walks on the beach while tallying the numbers of people and how they are using it)

  • the education department at Heal the Bay Aquarium helping out on field trips

  • volunteer with NPS at the King Gillette Ranch visitor center

  • some Zooniverse projects

  • ID-ing on iNat (though not so much lately)

  • and a few random things as they come up


I struggle a little to differentiate between volunteering and pursuing my personal interests. While I was working I “volunteered” to help band birds for the Long Point Bird Observatory at Long Point along Lake Erie’s north shore. I spent time in a unique place inaccesible to most people, up-close and personal with a multitude of migrants from warblers to thrushes to Saw-whet Owls and a variety of non-avian wildlife. I also worked on 2 Ontario Breeding Bird Atlases gaining access to private lands to discover rare breeding birds and canoeing down the Winisk River from the middle of Northern Ontario to Hudson’s Bay with amazing people and with subsidized fly in transportation. Since retiring I’ve spent time surveying freshwater mussels and breeding birds for the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton/Burlington getting to know endangered species while contributing to the knowledge of their distribution. I’ve volunteered to do odonate and butterfly surveys in awe inspiring tall grass prairie on First Nations lands also inaccessible to the general public. Even pulling invasives from degraded natural areas, seeing native species thrive afterwards, is a pretty rewarding. It almost feels selfish getting to do amazing things that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do without having to pay for it.


The lifeguards give out trash bags? That’s actually a great idea - to make bags available for those who want to do an impromptu trash pickup. I bet more people would do it in more places if they knew that they could just ask for a bag.
We went to a State Park and they advertised a patch for picking up a bag of trash. My Girl Scout daughters did that - and it turned out the patches were out of date leftovers from years gone by… But my daughters didn’t seem to mind that the patch had a date from before they were born on it. :D


I used to volunteer for the Cleveland Metroparks in Northeast Ohio.

From 2010 to 2016 I was part of a raptor nest survey. I would searched the three parks in my area for hawks and owls. I would do it year round because winter time was the best time to find nests since there weren’t any leaves on the trees. It was very rewarding. I had just started birding a couple of years prior to joining this survey. Sometimes it was difficult to find certain hawk nests because the birds were very secretive. I remember it taking me two weeks to find a Cooper’s hawk nest because it was hidden in a conifer. It really taught me how to be respectful of the birds. I would only spend 10 to 15 minutes at a nest site at most twice a week. The birds were all different. I had to find a distance where the bird felt comfortable with me being there for that 10 to 15 minutes.

When that nest survey program ended, I participated in a mammal survey. The Parks had over 200 trail cameras set up through their land. They needed volunteers to go through the thousands of photos. The program used Zooniverse.com. So, I would spend a few hours a day going through the images. It was always fun because you never knew what was going to be on those images. Zooniverse has a variety of projects. It is worth exploring.

I have also participated in a spring and fall bird survey for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It is a one day survey. I have also participated in a nine day breeding survey for the Greater Akron Audubon Society. It takes place in June every year.

For the past two years I have contributed to the Ohio Odonata Survey here on iNat. The data is being used to create a new field guide for the state of Ohio.

I also regularly go birding and enter my data on eBird. I have also entered data in Cornell Lab or Ornithology’s NestWatch website.


Have you tried the Zooniverse.com website? There are ways to participate in research programs that are 100% online through the website.


Thanks for the link. We think it is .org (not .com). We’ll check it out.


By far, the most volunteer work I have done is in invasive plant control, targeting things like garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed, Norway maple, ailanthus altissima, Japanese and Amur honeysuckle, English ivy, and many others. I’ve done some such work in larger wildlife refuges like John Heinz outside Philly, but over time shifted to most working in smaller municipal parks, both because it reduces fuel usage (I can walk and/or bike to them) and because these parks tend to be more messed up ecologically due to habitat fragmentation. Also, they often have no one else doing the work, whereas big refuges like John Heinz typically have multiple volunteers and also some paid staff doing large-scale things.

I have done less planting work, but I have done a lot of seed distribution, where I gather seed from local wild populations of native plants, and then distribute them into suitable habitat. I have found that seed distribution is a much more efficient use of my time than planting efforts. When people plant plants, they typically require follow-up care (watering, sometimes protection from herbivory when young), and a large portion of them die even with the care. Seeding plants often results in a much greater establishment of plants relative to the amount of time and effort I put in. Furthermore, when people plant plants, they rarely are using local seed stock, they’re often just buying them at nurseries, so the resulting plants are inferior with respect to preserving of the local plant genetics. When I do do planting, it is usually making use of “rescue” plants, such as seedlings that come up in unwanted places. I have agreements with a number of local property owners and landscaping teams, like the landscapers at my bank gave me permission to dig up any “weeds” and I’ve gotten some nice, aggressive stuff that way, like goldenrods that seed in. Then I transplant them to wild areas that are overrun with invasives or where I have recently pulled out invasive plants.

I’ve done bird surveying a lot, done horseshoe crab surveying once. I mostly do bird surveying informally though. I seek out areas where there is a lack of (eBird) data, and try to fill it in. I always report on eBird. Instead of chasing rarities and trying to maximize my life list, I try to fill in holes and bird “underbirded” areas. Ironically, the rarest birds I’ve ever seen have been in some of these “underbirded” areas, which may just be a function of me getting out really frequently into these areas.

In some sense, a lot of the online work I do is volunteer work, including work posting and IDing here on iNaturalist, and the work I do on my website bplant. Although as I get funding for bplant, I’m starting to get paid, at least partially, for a small portion of that work. But it still remains largely volunteer work for the time being.

Early on in my career I also volunteered for a few environmental non-profits, when I lived in Cleveland. I did computer-related things for them including miscellaneous IT work, and working with databases including designing databases. I later moved into doing this type of stuff as a freelance consultant for a large number of different clients, and the volunteer work was important in making connections and also building up references and a portfolio of my work. One of the non-profits I started doing volunteer work for, EcoCity Cleveland, was later merged into the Cleveland National History Museum, and another, the Clean Air Conservancy closed because of financial problems.

Outside of nature-oriented things, other volunteer work I have done in the past includes (math) tutoring in public schools, and political volunteering including both nonpartisan stuff and times I’ve volunteered for specific candidate’s campaigns. I also have volunteered in various capacities in local swing and blues dance scenes. I ran one local scene for a summer as the main organizer, and I’ve played a smaller organizing role in other scenes like lining up a free venue for late-night afterparties. Outside of this I have taught lessons, and over the years, contributed thousands of driving miles to a carpool of dancers driving into nearby cities to dance.

I also have other websites unrelated to environmental stuff, that are purely volunteer efforts, like 31et.com, which is a niche site about a particular microtonal musical tuning.

Also a while back I co-founded a group called Why This Way, it is no longer very active but it was a group that built a consensus-based belief system emphasizing respectful communication. And I also run and host that website’s wiki which still has all its consensus-based texts.

I also spend a great deal of time writing about a variety of topics I consider important. Respectful communication, especially on controversial topics like religion and politics, is a big one. Nowadays I’m a bit of a “moderate activist”, trying to combat political polarization and us-vs-them thinking in society at large. I also have written a lot of stuff about nonbinary gender, which I’ve mostly published in niche communities on Tumblr and Reddit. I’m one of the few people I know who is open about being both nonbinary and politically moderate, so I try to represent and break stereotypes that associate nonbinary identity with far-left politics. I also answer a lot of questions on Quora related to these topics and many others.

So yeah, pretty much my whole life is like ongoing volunteering, but often as a maverick (not always within the guise of a formal volunteer program or organization.) Like I often seek out volunteer work where no one else is doing it, or where I have thought up a new, different way of doing it that I think will be dramatically more effective. The level of organization is usually asking a person here or there, like a homeowner, or maybe someone in a municipal park system, “Hey, would you mind if I do X on your property?” and people usually enthusiastically agree.

I do enough paid work to be comfortable financially and then funnel whatever energy I can into whatever seems like the most efficient use of my time for making the world a better place, and I try hard not to “put all my eggs in one basket” so to speak, both as a security policy, so I get more done in the end, and also because I often function better when I can be a “jack of all trades” who draws connections between seemingly unrelated areas, to gain new insights and come up with new, more efficient ways of doing things!!!


I used to volunteer for museums back when I lived in different cities and at one point helped to map heritage trees. Now I just iNat and drive an ambulance.


I’m a designer for the West Coast Rare Fungi Challenge for the Fungal Diversity Survey (FunDiS) - I’ve made 10 species pamphlets for the new species we added this year to the challenge. Check it out - WC Rare Fungi Challenge I’m also working on the newsletter, note taking for meetings, a StoryMap in the works, and creating some new banners for the website. We are always looking for more volunteers that are into fungi since FunDiS is all volunteer currently. :mushroom:

I also did a ton of volunteer work with Groundswell Ecology and CNPS in Santa Cruz, CA restoring native plants and removing invasive plants, but just moved up to Washington last year. Currently volunteering with Washington Native Plant Society to help out with Study Weekend, Wenatchee River Institute co-leading public snowshoe walks, and anything that comes up with Conservation NW. I also occasionally do herbarium digitization things on Zooniverse.