Volunteer Appreciation Page | Rookery Bay Research Reserve
A Helping Hand at Rookery Bay

Get Involved

Are you a people person? Or do you like to get your hands dirty? Or do you like to do administrative tasks? Well you have come to the right place. Hundreds of volunteers play a vital role in the preservation, restoration and management of our mangrove estuary in the donation of over 18,000 hours a year.
Future Volunteers: If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please complete the APPLICATION FORM. We will reach out to you with more information. Please add volunteer@rookerybay.org to your email contact list to ensure you receive our messages.

We truly appreciate that you would like to dedicate your valuable time to support us in our mission! We thank you for your patience, and we look forward to having you as a member of our dynamic volunteer team!



Aquarium Assistant

A weekly commitment of at least three hours a week between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., with a minimum three-month commitment.
Learning is an ongoing process, training will be provided.

Learn about fish and invertebrates from the estuary, by helping our staff with aquarium maintenance aimed at keeping our live teaching collection in the healthiest condition possible, in pristine-looking exhibit tanks. Includes cleaning and maintenance of tanks and life-support filtration systems.

Individuals must meet the following qualifications and interview with the Volunteer Specialist and the Aquarist before being considered for training:

  • Individual must be at least 16, with interest in environmental studies, biology or aquariums
  • Aquarium experience preferred but not required
  • Good observation skills
  • The ability to communicate verbally, with enthusiasm to help guests learn about the animals and their habitats
  • The ability to follow detailed instructions

Fish feeding:
Fish feeding includes understanding nutritional requirements of fish, preparing diets, and feeding of aquarium animals under the guidance of our Aquarist and Education Specialist.


Butterfly Garden

More information coming soon!


Elementary Education

Volunteering will take place on various days throughout the school year, 4-5 hours a weekday.
Learning is an ongoing process and all volunteers are required to attend annual training.

After a training session, volunteers will have the opportunity to work directly with students doing scientific investigations of the estuary. Students will do a variety of activities. Here are just a few: take water quality samples, learn about plankton, identify organisms that live within Oyster beds and the role they play in the oyster reef and use microscopes to view plankton samples. Activities are in the ELC, outside, and in the lab.



A weekly commitment of two hours in off-season, three hours in-season, for at least 3 months is required.

The necessary training is provided prior to commencement of assignment. Learning is an ongoing process and all volunteers are required to attend annual refresher orientation.

Volunteer will be responsible for assisting guests in understanding the animals within our Estuary Encounter Marine Life Exhibit.

Individuals must meet these qualifications and interview with the Volunteer Specialist and the Aquarist before being considered for shadowing/training.


Facilities Volunteer

Facilities volunteers are encouraged to provide weekly commitment of 4 hours; any weekday from 8 am to 12 pm or 12:30 pm to 4 pm

Some tasks include:

Handyman – interior and exterior
Maintenance of vehicles, boats and buildings
Gardening skills are helpful, but not necessary


Grounds Keeper

Biweekly, flexible days & hours. 2 – 3 hours shift any day Monday – Friday, between 8:00 and 4:00 pm
Description of Duties:
Volunteer is responsible for minor maintenance of the grounds around the Environmental Learning Center and parking area.

Tasks include:

  • Leaf blow walkways, bridges and around buildings
  • Trim and prune shrubs along walks
  • Pick-up downed fronds and tree branches, dispose of properly
  • Exotic removal


Environmental Learning Center Trails

A Trail Guide Volunteer leads guided hikes along designated trails, providing visitors with information about the local flora, fauna, and ecosystems. Duties include welcoming visitors, ensuring safety on the trails, answering questions, and sharing insights about conservation efforts. Trail Guides also help maintain trails, monitor wildlife, and support educational programs by engaging visitors and enhancing their outdoor experience.


Visitor Services

A weekly commitment of 4 hours on a specific day; from 10 am to 2 pm, Monday through Friday (Saturday during season).
Description of Duties: Volunteer greets visitors as they enter our Learning Center.

*Learning is an ongoing process and all volunteers are required to attend annual training.*

Tasks include:

Making guests feel welcome
Inquiring how they heard about the Center
Letting the visitor know what programs are going on that day or week
Orienting guests to the Learning Center and Rookery Bay Reserve
Interpreting the map of Rookery Bay Reserve for guests


Special Events

A commitment of 2 to 4 hours before, during, and/or after our Special Events

Tasks include:

  • Set-up/break-down event venue, including tables, tents, etc.
  • Assist with special event activities including registration, customer service, crafts, etc.
  • Attendance at pre-event briefing meeting, if applicable



Team OCEAN is primarily a boat-based volunteer program at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR) dedicated to serving the needs of the reserve in whatever capacity that best helps the Reserve achieve its mission statement and goals. Its main objective is to provide information and interpretation to ensure that visitors to Rookery Bay Research Reserve enjoy the Reserve by using its resources responsibly.

Volunteers should be prepared to spend several hours outside in varying weather conditions, including hot sun, often working independently of Rookery Bay staff. They should, therefore, be reasonably fit and highly reliable and responsible.


Fisheries Research

Help our fisheries biologist collect samples with a trawl net each month in Naples Bay, Rookery Bay or the Ten Thousand Islands. Volunteers will help sort, identify, count and measure relevant fish and shellfish before returning them to the estuary.
Interested persons are expected to complete a volunteer application and attend a new volunteer orientation. Entering volunteer hours is required as per instructions from the Volunteer Coordinator. Once this is completed you will be placed on the fisheries research volunteer list and will receive emails with available dates that are set months in advance. Volunteers must respond to requests for assistance quickly in order to secure a seat on the boat.



More information coming soon!

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