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Northwest Region

Northwest Region Volunteer Program

Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Liberty, Franklin, Gadsden, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson

The Northwest Region Volunteer Program offers many opportunities for citizens to get involved in the conservation of Florida’s wildlife. Volunteers can assist on wildlife surveys and studies, habitat enhancement, grounds maintenance, shorebird monitoring, data entry and analysis, and more!

Please email the NW Region Volunteer Coordinator to learn about current opportunities.  

Scallop Sitter Program

Photo courtesy of John Lambert, Scallop Sitter Volunteer

Photo courtesy of John Lambert, Scallop Sitter Volunteer

  • Bay, Gulf
  • April - January

Scallop Sitters are volunteers who are helping to restore bay scallops in St. Joseph and St. Andrews Bays by “babysitting” a cage of scallops from April through January. Volunteers must have access to the either of these bays via dock or boat and must commit to checking on and cleaning their scallops once a month. The scallops are kept in predator-exclusion cages to protect them from predation and increase the chances of successful reproduction during spawning season. Other volunteer opportunities that support the Scallop Sitter Program or scallop restoration efforts are posted on the FWC Outreach Calendar. If interested in becoming a Scallop Sitter, please register online.

Shorebirds

Florida Shore Bird
  • Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf
  • April - September

The Panhandle is known for hosting high numbers of nesting shorebirds, including least terns, snowy plovers, and black skimmers. We are always in search of volunteers to act as Bird Stewards at popular nesting sites on the beach. Stewards help to educate the public about nesting shorebirds by sharing information and allowing beachgoers to view the birds and chicks from afar through binoculars and birding scopes. FWC and Audubon Florida work closely to ensure coverage on all busy beaches throughout the nesting season.

Crayfish Habitat Restoration

Crayfish habitat restoration
  • Bay
  • Year-round

The Panama City Crayfish is only found in Bay County, FL, and has been experiencing habitat loss over the years due to development and fire suppression. Volunteers are needed to help hand-clear several restoration sites around Panama City, FL. Hardwoods and overstory growth are removed to open the areas back up for smaller, herbaceous ground cover, preferred by the Panama City Crayfish.

Bog Frog Call Analysis

Florida Bog Frog avi for NW Volunteers program
  • Bay
  • Year-round

Regional biologists are actively restoring habitat for the FL Bog Frog. In order to determine habitat use and population estimates in these areas, recordings are collected at specific times. Volunteers are vital in helping us process the data from the recordings. If you have a computer that can read either a flash drive or an SD card and have fair to good hearing, you can help! Volunteers listen to the recordings for bog frog calls and record the timestamps of any.

Diamondback Terrapin Monitoring

  • Coastal Counties
  • Year-round, except very cold months

Have you spotted one of these beautifully patterned terrapins? Let us know! Biologists are aiming to learn more about the presence and habitat use of Diamondback Terrapins in the Panhandle. To report a sighting, download the iNaturalist App and join the FWC Diamondback Terrapins of Florida project. Then just take a picture and submit! Any photos or notes you submit, along with the location, are sent to our biologists.

Bear Aware Volunteers

FL Black Bear avi for volunteers
  • Santa Rosa, Gulf, Franklin, Wakulla
  • Year-round, busier in fall months

Bear Aware volunteers educate homeowners and communities about living with FL black bears and how to minimize human-bear interactions. When bears have been spotted in neighborhoods and communities, Bear Aware volunteers visit those areas to share with neighbors how to secure bear attractants in an effort to discourage bears from utilizing the area. Volunteers are interviewed and undergo formal trainings – only the best become Bear Aware Volunteers!

Oyster Reef Restoration

Stock photo for Oyster Reef Restoration
  • Bay
  • August - October

Volunteers are needed from August to October to assist in monitoring efforts of an artificial oyster reef project. The oyster reef is located in West Bay of St. Andrew’s Bay in Panama City. This project was designed to restore over 4 acres of oyster reef habitat and foster the recovery of over 200 acres of seagrass habitat. Volunteers will assist with various surveys to assess the progress of the oyster reefs. Some of these surveys involved swimming and/or walking over the reefs, while others involve working from boats.

Wildlife Management Areas

FWC volunteers made six new wood duck nest boxes for the Carter Tract of Econfina Creek Wildlife Management Area in Washington County.
  • Various counties
  • Varying timeframe

FWC supports many Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) across the region. Biologists often need assistance on these areas for a variety of activities including bird nest box construction, wildlife surveys and population checks, maintenance, data entry, and more.