Other Volunteer Opportunities in the Florida Keys
Beyond volunteer activities coordinated by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, there are opportunities to get involved with other organizations dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Florida Keys ecosystem. While by no means is this an exhaustive list, below are some opportunities that may be of interest to you.
Coral Reefs & Marine Life
Organized groups of volunteer divers may plan and run their own Adopt-A-Reef activities, removing submerged monofilament line or other trash from reefs and wrecks. Group leaders may arrange to borrow materials for removing debris and may obtain debris log sheets from Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. To inquire about borrowing materials for your group's event, contact the sanctuary’s volunteer coordinator Hannah Weddington.
Coral Restoration Foundation
The Coral Restoration Foundation offers one- and two-day events for all certified SCUBA divers and interested groups to assist staff. Each program typically includes an informative lecture and two dives. The dives will allow all participants to assist staff in underwater coral propagation and maintenance in the foundation’s nursery and/or transplanting nursery corals to nearby selected reefs.
Florida Keys Coral Bleaching Early Warning Network (BleachWatch)
Run by Mote Marine Laboratory with support from Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the BleachWatch program involves training volunteers to collect field observations to monitor for signs of coral bleaching. Collected information is combined with additional scientific analysis and information to develop reports on the condition of corals in the sanctuary throughout the summer.
Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)
REEF is a non-profit organization that encourages recreational divers and snorkelers to conduct fish surveys during their normal dive activities. Surveying can be conducted year round. In addition, each year during the month of July, REEF coordinates the Great Annual Fish Count, organizing training sessions and dive events so volunteers can collect information on fish observed while diving in any of REEF's survey regions.
State Park Volunteer Program
Bahia Honda State Park accepts volunteer applications no more than 12-13 months in advance. Campground volunteer positions are in high demand at the park. The required stay is three months and you receive a free campsite in exchange for volunteer hours. Volunteers at the park perform a variety of tasks including bathroom cleaning, litter pick-up, and maintenance and repair projects.
Florida State Parks Volunteer Program
There are multiple volunteer opportunities available at parks around the State of Florida. These include opportunities to greet visitors; conduct tours; assist with special events; help rangers maintain beaches, waterways, or trails; and work for extended periods at state park campgrounds.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Volunteer Program
The campground host and volunteer program at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park relies upon individuals to help the park preserve and protect its natural resources and provide outstanding guest services. The volunteer program has opportunities for both local residents (seasonal and year-round) and overnight campers.
Long Key State Park Volunteer Program
Long Key State Park is looking for summer volunteers. Openings are from May through October and require 20 hours a week of work in exchange for a free campsite. The minimum stay is six weeks. Volunteers perform a variety of duties including restroom cleaning, trash pick-up, maintenance, special projects, and staffing the park office.
Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS)
CoCoRaHS is a non-profit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail, and snow). By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and using an interactive website, CoCoRaHS provides data for natural resource, education, and research applications.
Weather Spotter Program
The Marine Weather Spotter Program is managed by the National Weather Service of the Florida Keys. Recreational and commercial boaters are trained to recognize and report significant weather and ocean conditions, and provide those “on the spot” weather reports to meteorologists.
SKYWARN is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters around the country. These volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service. Volunteers are trained to distinguish cloud clues that may portend severe weather and will learn how to report severe weather directly to their local National Weather Service office. In the Florida Keys, the National Weather Service Forecast Office is located in Key West.
Wildlife & Nature Centers
Crane Point Museum and Nature Center
The Crane Point Museum and Nature Center includes a natural history museum exploring local wildlife; a gift shop; nature trails; and the Marathon Wild Bird Center, which includes an active volunteer program.
Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
Florida Keys Wild Bird Center’s mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release native and migratory wild birds that have been harmed or displaced; to provide or locate a humane shelter for those birds that cannot be released; and to educate the public regarding the importance of coexistence with all wild bird species.
Friends And Volunteers Of Refuges (FAVOR)
FAVOR is an all-volunteer organization that supports the four national wildlife refuges in the Florida Keys. FAVOR offers opportunities to help with habitat restoration, at the bookstore, as trail guides, and more.
Key West Wildlife Center
The mission of the Key West Wildlife Center is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release as many wild birds as possible. The center sees over 1,000 wild birds each year, with ailments ranging from fishing line/hook entanglements, automobile accidents, abuse, and disease. Volunteers are needed to help at the bird hospital and with the outdoor bird habitats, assist with bird rescues and yard maintenance, and more.
Pigeon Key Foundation and Marine Science Center
The Pigeon Key Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history and environment of the Florida Keys through education and research.