The Friends of Blackwater is a nonprofit
citizens support group founded in 1987, assisting Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland and the
Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex to carry out their
educational, interpretive, and public use missions. Currently our ranks
include over 800 individuals, companies, organizations, and agencies who have helped us
become one of the preeminent voluntary conservation organizations in our area.
Membership Benefits include:
- Email newsletter and selected publications
- 10% discount at the following refuge bookstores/gift shops: Blackwater, Bombay Hook,
Prime Hook, Chincoteague, Heinz NWR at Tinicum, Eastern Shore, and Eastern Neck
- Membership decal
- Advance program announcements
- Invitation to special events
- Voting privileges at the annual meeting
- New discounts at local establishments
Many individuals become interested in volunteering, either with the
Friends of Blackwater or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Over 100,000 people a year visit the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Visitor Center. Beginning with the fall season and the influx of waterfowl and
visitors, the Refuge is a busy place with only a few permanent employees.
The Refuge relies on volunteers to help staff the Visitor Center enabling
the Center to be open seven days a week.
Volunteers usually work a minimum of four hours a month on a schedule
of 8 AM to 12 PM or 12 PM to 4 PM weekdays; or 9 AM to 1 PM or 1 PM to 5 PM on
weekends. Some volunteers work twice a month, some once a week, and others
whenever they can be scheduled to suit their schedule. They especially need
volunteers for the weekend hours. A sign-up sheet is posted two months in
advance. A Volunteer Schedule Coordinator will call the month before, if
you have not yet signed up, to schedule you for the following month. New
volunteers work with an experienced volunteer the first few times until they
feel comfortable working alone.
Volunteer training is usually held one evening early in the year to
cover Visitor Center procedures. This is especially for new volunteers
or volunteers interested in reviewing the procedures. A second training
session, Update/Conference for all volunteers, is usually scheduled a few
days later on a Saturday at the Visitor Center. Staff members bring the
volunteers up-to-date on the various Refuge management programs through
slides, talks, and various media. A third training day is held on another
Saturday. This training consists of a bus tour of the Refuge for all volunteers,
but especially for any volunteers who haven't had the tour before.
If you are interested in learning how to give bus tours, orientations to
the Refuge, and/or trail walks, a training session will probably be held
in the near future, but may also be done individually when one of these
programs is scheduled during the week. If you cannot attend all of the
training sessions, on-the-job training can be done for the procedures,
but the tour and update/training can only be done once a year.
Another option is to become a member of the Friends of Blackwater (FOB).
FOB has members from all over the United States, but most
of the working members are also volunteers from the local area. Not
only can you help the Refuge by being a member, but FOB would also
welcome anyone willing to raise money for Blackwater NWR.
Everyone is invited to attend their monthly meetings, usually
the second Tuesday of the month at 10 AM in the Refuge Headquarters
If you are interested in volunteering or have any questions, please
don't hesitate to contact Tom Miller at 410-228-2677 or at
You can contact the Friends of Blackwater on this site's Contact page
or read the volunteer form for more information.
Blackwater Refuge staff are now taking applications for Youth Conservation Corps positions. The application deadline is April 17.