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“Volunteering is one of the best, most certain ways we can find a purpose and meaning in our life,” Val Walker, author

Looking for a way to join others to support conservation, restoration, and environmental education in Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties? The Friends has a place for you! We have exciting opportunities for everyone to help, regardless of physical ability or previous experience. Volunteering is a wonderful way to meet others with similar interests, while performing meaningful work. Here is a list of current opportunities

Contact the Friends of Willapa volunteer coordinator at

We will add you to the volunteer list and contact you when there is an opportunity for the tasks that interest you. You will also receive the Friends newsletter and can check our Facebook page for other volunteer activities.

Here are some examples of how Friends volunteers can help. Some of these options are outdoors, and while we cannot guarantee perfect weather for our work, we can promise a fun time!

Photo courtesy of John McCullum - The photo has a swallow box, the smaller box, as well as the large barn owl box.

Volunteer Spotlight  John McCullum

Our fantastic volunteer John built 20 more swallow nest boxes for us this spring. Here is our interview with him.

How did you happen to become a volunteer for us?  

I started building swallow nest boxes for the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge facility around 2015. The biologist there told me that the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge might be interested in some nest boxes. I contacted Julia Butler Hansen and made a set of boxes for them in 2020.  I had an interruption in building the nest boxes of over a year due to the pandemic. 

How long have you been a volunteer?

I basically started in 2020.

How did you get into making nest boxes and do you make them for more than one species?

I initially started building swallow nest boxes to provide more nesting sites for them. This year I built four barn owl nest boxes, two for Ridge Field and two for Julia Butler Hansen. All total I have made over 100 swallow boxes for activities in Clark county and Julia Butler Hansen. I am starting a new batch of 20 swallow boxes that I hope to hand off to Julia Butler Hansen by the end of April.

Have you done other things for us besides make nest boxes?


How many hours a week do you volunteer?

When I am making a batch of boxes I work about six hours a day until the boxes are complete. For the 20 boxes it will probably take five to six days.

Are most of your duties at Julia Butler Hansen?

I also volunteer at the Ridgefield refuge.

What is the best part of your volunteer job?

Providing nesting sites to support increasing the swallow population through my woodworking hobby.

What would you change about your job?

Nothing at this time.

What would you like others to know about volunteering for Friends?

Search out the needs the Refuge has and volunteer and also work to engage others to support their programs.

September 2023 Volunteer Update Project  NestWatch Results

The results are in! Refuge volunteers Rachel and Sarah were hard at work monitoring the many nest boxes for Project NestWatch and all chicks have now fledged! This program is used to monitor the status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds.

This information is added to a database used to see how climate change, habitat degradation and loss, expansion of urban areas, and the introduction of non-native plants and animals affect bird populations.

The Refuge complex was home to 60 nest boxes in three different sites, and 311 chicks successfully left the nest this year. These chicks were mostly tree swallows, but a few barn swallows also used some boxes. Nest boxes, like the ones on the refuge, make great nesting homes for a variety of species such as western bluebirds, mourning doves, chickadees, and more.

From the NestWatch website: How Can You Help?

Participating in NestWatch is easy and just about anyone NestWatch can do it, although children should always be accompanied by an adult when observing bird nests. Simply follow the directions on our website to become a certified NestWatcher, find a bird nest using  our helpful tips, visit the nest every 3-4 days and record what you see, and then report  this information on our website. You can also download the NestWatch Mobile App for iOS and Android and record what you see at the nest in real time. Find more information and tips in our FAQs.

Your observations will be added to those of thousands of other NestWatchers in a continually growing database used by researchers to understand and study birds. Simply put, without your help it would be impossible to gather enough information to accurately monitor nesting birds across the country. And while you are contributing extremely valuable information to science, you will learn firsthand about birds and create a liflong bond with the natural world.

Trail Maintenance

Refuge trails need periodic maintenance, and Friends volunteers rotate through the various trails throughout the year or as needed. Most of this work involves light physical labor, and tools are provided. Time involved: about two to three hours.

Invasive Species Removal

We also help remove invasive plant species, such as holly, gorse, and Scotch broom. This work involves medium/light physical labor. Time involved: about three hours.

Environmental Education

From February through May, Friends volunteers visit 4th grade classrooms in Pacific County to teach about our environment and the importance of wildlife refuges. At the end of the program in May, volunteers lead the 4th graders on a Refuge field trip to put into practice what they have learned.  See our Environmental Education Program for more information.

Information Booths

Volunteers provide information about the Friends and the Refuge at local festivals, markets, and other events.

Wings Over Willapa and Other Events

Planners, greeters, ticket takers, moderators, set-up, and clean-up crews—just a few of the volunteer opportunities needed at Friends events. If you are interested in volunteer opportunities at the Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, contact us at Can’t volunteer but still want to support us? Join as a member!

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