Southwest Region Volunteer Program

Southwest Region Volunteer Program involves a wide range of conservation projects aimed at conserving, monitoring and protecting species and habitats. 

Location: Charotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee, and Sarasota.  

Hillsborough County

State Fair 2016

In February of each year, FWC look for volunteers to serve as advocates at the Florida State Fair at the Florida State Fair Grounds in Tampa. Volunteers educate the public on a range of topics including invasive species, responsible pet selection, fishing, habitat management, and research undertaken by FWC/FWRI.

Don Corbin With Tegu
Volunteer Don Corbin holding a
captured tegu.

Tegu monitoring project

Invasive tegus pose a serious threat to native species in the Riverview area east of Tampa. Biologists from FWC are currently participating in removal efforts throughout several natural areas. Volunteers have an opportunity to be involved in monitoring gopher tortoise burrows, baiting and monitoring traps, using GPS units to mark the locations of burrows, surveying for animal tracks and maintaining cameras that we leave onsite to record animal activity. We are also using telemetry to track tegus, which will aid in identifying their range and distribution –it’s an exciting project and you will gain a lot of field experience.

Juvenille Scrub Jay
Juvenile scrub jay.

Manatee County

JayWatch

FWC are partnering with Florida Audubon Society to undertake surveys for Florida Scrub-Jays on Moody Branch WMA. This event takes place in early July each year.

 

Pinellas County

Marine Mammal Pathobiology Lab – Saint Petersburg, Pinellas County

Marine Mammal Pathbio lab (MMPL) is located on the campus of Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, Florida. The MMPL is a dedicated member of the Manatee Salvage Program and responds to reports from Law Enforcement and the general public concerning dead manatee in coastal waters. Volunteers should note that many of the volunteer opportunities involve dealing with animals in various states of decomposition.

MMPL Volunteer Duties (unpredictable dependent on time of day, time of year):

  • Routine cleaning (facilities, equipment, laundry, etc.)
  • Data entry (incident reports, checking data, logging information, inventories, etc.)
  • Observe marine mammal necropsies (assist with off-loading carcasses and, once comfortable, may be asked to describe some organs or participate in some cutting, under supervision)
  • Field response (checking on mating herds, recovering carcasses, live animal rescues, releases, health assessments, etc.)
  • Educational materials

Smalltooth Sawfish
Smalltooth sawfish (credit Dean Grubbs).

Charlotte County

Smalltooth sawfish

FWC Charlotte Harbor field lab based in Port Charlotte is looking for volunteers to assist in Smalltooth sawfish research. Volunteers need to be comfortable working on small boats and be a team player. This volunteer opportunity is physically demanding and volunteers need to be able to lift 50 lbs. Volunteers will have the opportunity to deploy gill nets in directed and random sampling throughout the Charlotte Harbor Estuary.  The gill nets are inspected frequently to identify when a sawfish is captured. The sawfish are fitted with roto, PIT and acoustic tags, measured and inspected for overall health. Any bycatch is identified, measured and released.

For more information on volunteering contact the volunteer coordinator.

 

Multiple Counties

Kestrel Monitoring
Kestrel chicks.

Southeast American Kestrel Monitoring Project

This statewide project is undertaken in the southwest region in Polk, Manatee and Hernando counties. Volunteers travel to inspect nest boxes in January /February to ensure they are suitable for the upcoming monitoring season. Between April and July volunteer visit all boxes to record species present, number of eggs and young present. This information is fed back into the FWC database.

During December 2015 and January 2016 we will be building 15-20 kestrel boxes to replace existing boxes that are in poor condition on various public and private lands.

Students From BESTAcademy
Students from BEST Academy, Brooksville
assisting with wiregrass planting on Big
Pine Wildlife Management Area.

Invasive Plant Workdays

We undertake workdays to remove invasive plants on our Wildlife Management Areas and to survey invasive species to assist with future management efforts. We also undertake native planting on Wildlife Management Areas.

Community Outreach

FWC attend community events throughout the southwest region and are always looking for assistance with these events. As a volunteer you will be tasked with helping set up, talking with the general public, providing information and assisting with disassembling. Events include Marine Quest, Florida State Fair, Charlotte Harbor Nature Festival, Florida Sportsman Expo.

Red Tide Offshore Monitoring program

Red Tide Offshore Monitoring program logoFWRI are looking for volunteers to collect water samples from offshore (1-30 nautical miles) and within coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Water samples are collected from routine collection points and sites reported for suspect harmful algal blooms (HABs). Volunteers are provided with sampling equipment and instructions. Information on the volunteer monitoring program is available.  A volunteer signup sheet External Website is available.

For additional information on volunteer opportunities in the southwest region, email the volunteer coordinator or call our Lakeland Regional Office on (863) 648-3200. 



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