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Project Based Volunteer Opportunities

Photo by Allison Dush

Long Term and Recurring Volunteer Opportunities

This page lists opportunities to earn volunteer hours that don't necessarily fit well on our online calendar. Our partners need Certified Master Naturalists to support their efforts to conserve Nebraska’s natural legacy. They have provided us with their needs, and they encourage volunteers to reach out to them. 

If you know of additional opportunities that should be listed on this page, please contact us at 402-937-8601 or naturalist@unl.edu.

Pheasants Forever: Pathway For Wildlife (PFW) Habitat Studies

Master Naturalist Pathway for Wildlife- Community Habitat

Background: Pathway for Wildlife (PFW) is a Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever of Nebraska habitat program built to offer incentives for enhancing wildlife habitat. Program participants apply specific wildlife and pollinator conservation practices that benefit pheasants, quail, grassland songbirds, monarch butterflies, native bees, and other wildlife. The program also aims to reduce soil losses, encourage soil health, and improve water quality. Three pathway options are available: pathway for grasslands, pathway for precision ag conservation, and pathway for community habitat. This research project with the Nebraska Master Naturalist Program aims to focus on the collection of quality data from Community Habitat Pathway locations. These urban green spaces are near city parks, colleges, libraries, churches and other frequently visited areas to encourage passers-by to monitor native wildflowers and the pollinators that use these spaces. The Nebraska Master Naturalist partnership will allow for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever of Nebraska to monitor and evaluate the program’s seeding success rate, local awareness, and wildlife use.

Location: Locations will depend on current contracts across the state. These sites are approximately 1 acre in size and marked with Community Habitat Project Signs. Locations for study will be selected by proximity to the NE Master Naturalist Volunteer and their desired travel distance.

Contact: Interested parties should contact Holly Mauslein, Outreach & Communication Coordinator, at hmauslein@pheasantsforever.org or 402-975-5698.

Potential Projects:

1.)    Entomology Research – The Pathway for Wildlife Community Habitat locations are seeded with a diverse wildflower mixture. A wide array of insects will be capable of breeding, hiding, and feeding on these locations. Pheasants Forever is interested in documenting species diversity, relative density within these plots, and species richness. Research will take place twice a month on the same location, between the months of April and October. Participants will utilize a phone app through Pheasants Forever to record their data. Surveys will be conducted via this app and selecting the insects present on checklist in a set timeframe. Photo identification will be helpful for identifying and recording additional data.

2.)    Avian Research – Community Habitats through the Pathway for Wildlife Program have the potential for songbirds to use them in an urban setting. Pheasants Forever is interested in documenting species diversity, relative density, and species richness on these locations. Research will take place twice a month on the same location, between the months of April and October. Participants will utilize a phone app through Pheasants Forever to record their data. Surveys will be conducted via this app and selecting the insects present on checklist in a set timeframe. Photo identification will be helpful for identifying and recording additional data.

3.)    Vegetation Research – Pathway for Wildlife Community Habitat locations are the smallest of the habitat development programs that Pheasants Forever offers. As such, studying the seeding success rates, species diversity, and species density, and species richness will be helpful for adjusting the program. Participants will utilize a phone app through Pheasants Forever to record their data. Surveys will be conducted via this app and selecting the insects present on checklist in a set timeframe. Photo identification will be helpful for identifying and recording additional data.

4.)    Education and Outreach – Opportunities for Education and Outreach on Pathway for Wildlife Community Habitat locations will be plentiful as the program targets urban hotspots near city parks, colleges, libraries, churches and other frequently visited areas. Studying the number of individuals that might utilize an area at various times of the day will help us understand the impact of urbanized projects. In addition, pollinator, plant identification, insect experiences, and other education opportunities will create further opportunities for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever of Nebraska and the Nebraska Master Naturalist Program to reach education and outreach goals towards their missions.

 

Master Naturalist Cover Crop Request

Background: Historically producers farming in an agricultural dominated landscape have had little interest in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) or any perennial habitat program. With the lack of interest in creating perennial wildlife habitat from landowners, Pheasants Forever of Nebraska began looking at using cover crops within the agriculture landscape to create wildlife habitat on an annual basis. A lot of research has been done in the area of cover crops and how they benefit soil health, but little research has looked at cover crop benefits to wildlife on the landscape. Coming into year 3 of our Pathway For Wildlife (PFW) program, which Pheasants Forever utilizes as a program to put cover crops on the landscape, we are interested in studying the impact of our cover crops on wildlife.

Location: Counties eligible for the PFW cover crop program include Merrick, Polk, Butler, Hamilton, York, Seward, Clay, Filmore, and Saline.

**Field locations will depend on landowner interest and quality projects. All field sites have yet to be identified. Landowner consent for projects will be obtained from Pheasants Forever personnel. Additionally, all communication with landowners will take place through Pheasants Forever personnel and occur in a timely manner to ensure site visit.

Potential Projects:

1)      Entomology Research – Many of the diverse cover crop mixtures hold a wide array of insect species and we are interested in documenting species diversity, relative density, and species richness of these PFW cover crop sites. Projects within this category can be as in depth as the individual prefers or as simple as taking pictures of insects and assisting in identifying them from home. For individuals interested in a more in-depth study, there is potential to compare the cover crop site to adjacent row crop agricultural field.

2)      Camera Trapping – For this project Pheasants Forever is interested in documenting all wildlife species that are large enough to set off a camera trap. Individuals who are interested in assisting with this project will be assigned a site within their preferred travel area. There they will be responsible for deploying a trail camera and collecting the pictures at least once every two weeks. Individuals will look through pictures captured on the trail cameras and identify the species within them. No pictures should be deleted, removed, or otherwise relabeled. This ensures that all photos are saved for use within a larger data set. In order to maintain a scientific process, all trail cameras set should be done in a similar manner to ensure quality data collection.

3)      Birding Opportunities – Pheasants Forever is interested in identifying avian species richness of the PFW cover crop sites. For this study individuals will be given a field(s) within their travel range where they can identify as many avian species as they can. Timing will depend on each specific project. Full season cover crops are usually planted mid-May while cover crops following small grain harvest are planted the first week or two of July. This study would target early spring planted cover crops and cover crops planted following the small grain harvest. The timing of these projects is important because there is potential for the cover crops to offer nesting habitat for some species and brood rearing resources for others.

If you are a Nebraska Master Naturalist interested in participating in these Pathway For Wildlife (PFW) habitat studies, please contact Precision Ag Coordinator Nathan Pflueger at npflueger@pheasantsforever.org or call Work: (402) 362-5700, Cell (402) 646-5426.

Water Quality Testing with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

This program is a collaboration between the Department of Civil Engineering at UNL, the Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and GC Resolve. 

Good water quality is important to the health of the public. In communities surrounded by agriculture, there is potential for contamination of water resources by manure and fertilizer application. Nitrates and phosphates are plant nutrients needed for improved growth, but excesses of these nutrients cause adverse impacts on water resources. Excess plant nutrients also pose a health risk to those who depend on these water resources. The goal of our program is to measure levels of plant nutrients present in well water, rivers, and streams within the Elkhorn and Lower Platte River basins.

The University of Nebraska will provide all testing materials and training to volunteers.

For more information, click here.

The Nature Conservancy at Platte River Prairies

Looking for A Longer-term commitment? Need to build experience for a career in conservation? Looking for a summer get-away that allows you to give back to the world? Want to increase your knowledge of prairie ecology or natural history?

If you answered 'yes!' to any of these questions, consider volunteering with The Nature Conservancy at the Platte River Prairies in Nebraska! We are looking for a few dedicated people who are willing to give a month or more of their time between May and October each year. You can assist us with seed harvesting, native plant nursery work, invasive species control, fence repair and maintenance, research data collection, and inventory/monitoring of plant and animal populations. In most cases, we can provide housing during your stay, so your primary expenses would be limited to travel to our prairies and food.

We can tailor your experience to fit your individual needs and preferences. If you're a student looking for practical job experience, we will make sure you get hands-on practice with a wide variety of tools and techniques and can network with our partner organizations. If you're more interested in some components of our work than others, we'll do what we can to accommodate that. We can also help set up individual research or other projects if you want something more in-depth, or need something like that for college credit.

Anyone interested in volunteering with us can contact Mardell Jasnowski at (402) 694-4191 for more information. We will ask for a resume and references, and will sort through applicants to find a slate of volunteers who match up well with our needs and capacity to provide a good experience for both parties. There is no deadline for applications - we will begin evaluating them as they come in.

Naturalists in the Park Program

Nebraska Game and Parks has a dozen or so paid Naturalists on staff around the state. Several are also certified Nebraska Master Naturalists. Some work seasonally and others work year round. They all could use your help as volunteers whether for a few hours or a whole season. The variety of of activities you could help with in great locations around Nebraska is endless! Below is a list of contacts across the state:

 - Two Rivers SRA– (402) 359-5165
 - Zach Kelley E.T. Mahoney SP - zach.kelley@nebraska.gov
 - Adam Johns: Platte River SP– adam.johns@nebraska.gov
 - Doug Wells: Platte River SP– dwells4@unl.edu
 - Bobbi Holm: Fremont State Lakes & Fort Atkinson SHP- bobbi.holm@nebraska.gov
 - Maria Korver: Ponca SP– maria.korver@nebraska.gov
  - Amanda Filipi: Wildcat Hills SRA & Fort Robinson SP– amanda.filipi@nebraska.gov
 - Heidi Swanson, Lake McConaughy Interpretive Center: (308) 284-8800

Ian Nicholson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary

To learn about the volunteer application process, please click here.

Visitor Center Assistant:

Are you interested in spending a relaxing day at Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary?

Essential Functions:
 - Availability on a Sunday afternoon from 12:30-4:30
 - Volunteer needs to be able to run cash register with training and use of cheat sheets
 - Talk to people from all over the country and world
 - Ability to work alone

Contact: Cody - cwagner@audubon.org
Telephone: 308-468-5282

Volunteer Discovery Leader for Rowe Sanctuary's School Programs: Do you enjoy working with children and have time to volunteer during the weekday? Being a discovery leader at Rowe Sanctuary is easy and fun. We provide the training and all you have to bring is your enthusiasm for being outdoors and a willingness to help children make their own discoveries in nature. All of our field trips are facilitated and our Discovery Leaders explore right alongside children. Ideally we like to have one Discovery Leader for every eight children. Programs vary in length.

Contact: Cody at cwagner@audubon.org or Beka at byates@audubon.org

Telephone: 308-468-5282

Wildcat Hills Nature Center

Volunteer Wish List for the Wildcat Hills Nature Center Education Department:

Environmental Education/Interpretation Programs:
Help present educational program, teach sessions, topic-based presentations. Normally during weekdays (specific times/dates can be provided to those interested).

Environmental Education/Interpretation Resources:
Help fabricate, design, and build interpretation/environmental education resources

Park Resource Management
Help with park management, trail maintenance, habitat restoration, pollinator garden, etc.

Contact: Amanda Filipi, Education Specialist
Email: amanda.filipi@nebraska.gov
Telephone: 308-436-3777

The Crane Trust

The Crane Trust is a non-profit dedicated to protecting and maintaining migratory bird habitat on the Platte River. We love our volunteers! The majority of the work gets put in throughout March when the cranes are here and we are all very busy.

Crane Tour Guide:
Our blinds are run by volunteers who get up early or come after dinner to play a video to our guests and lead them into the blinds for a magical experience watching thousands of sandhill cranes come in or leave the roost on the Platte River. Guides will get information about cranes and training on use of the Visitor Center. Who wouldn't want to get to go in the blinds for free? But this is not always for the faint of heart. Sometimes you have to play 'cop' so the guests have a good experience, and walking to and from the blind is required (10 minutes each way at a slow pace). Warm clothes necessary.

Visitor Center Volunteer
Looking for an indoor way to contribute? We have greeters who just say "hello," guide guests around the VC, and provide driving route or blind tour information. Gift shop assistance is great! It really helps to have someone there to tidy up or answer questions. Checking out is really easy with our new computer system! We also have a volunteer-run snack bar.

Maintenance and Clean-up
Like working with your hands? Trained on machinery? Just want to keep active? We always need help mowing trails, doing trash removal, washing windows, and odd maintenance jobs around our offices.

If any of these sound like a dream come true, please fill out our volunteer application form here or contact the Crane Trust Volunteer Coordinator at 308-382-1820

Volunteer at Cedar Point Biological Station

Cedar Point Biological Station (CPBS) / NMN Volunteer Opportunities for Summer

What’s going on at CPBS?  The core season is roughly May to August with a few events in the fall. Fall events include Labor Day week and UNL Fall Break (10-17 Oct).  We are open but at a lower capacity the rest of the year.  CPBS will host 10 UNL courses, several week long educational events, and about a dozen Artists in Residence, each for one to two weeks. CPBS will also host 20 to 30 researchers and interns over various times in the season as well. We even host a one week long Nebraska Master Naturalist training event.  The offer here is hang, fully integrate into the CPBS community, with people here to do field research and experiential learning while you volunteer and help Cedar Point be even more.  For any and all volunteers, CPBS will provide food and housing in season, housing and kitchen access out of season.  A week at CPBS might cover all the NMN volunteer and training time you need for the year too. Depends who is here presenting a seminar etc. We are adjacent to Lake Mac, so come out, help CPBS and spend some time on the lake as well.

What could you do at CPBS - almost anything.  A few examples: We have one budding project that is a collaborative of resident artists and Master Naturalists creating a permanent dye garden; mostly native plants.  CPBS shares a prairie dog town with Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District (Central) and we are working through long-term management issues and efforts to maintain that town.  Physical help putting up fence and barrier near the P-dog town is very much needed. The site also hosts a number of burrowing owls.  We have 15 plus miles of trail all of which need work.  We have an active redcedar removal program; join the summer 2018 habitat management interns for a week and help them improve our prairie. Help us create a Friends of CPBS.  Help us write grant proposals.  Help us work on better documenting the history of CPBS.  Closer to citizen science, help us curate and add to the herbarium and the insect collection.  This list approaches endless, so come and do what most fascinates you.

Contact Jon Garbisch, a fellow Master Naturalist and the associate director.

402-472-5977 Lincoln    308-284-6501 Ogallala    912-222-9407 Cell or Email: JGarbisch2@unl.edu   

Our Impact to Date Since 2010

  • Trained Master Naturalists

    550

  • Volunteer Hours

    95,996

  • Volunteer Projects

    8,500

  • Impact Value

    $2611091

  • Pioneers Park
    Pioneers Park
  • CPBS
    CPBS
  • Nebraska Wildlife Rehab
    Nebraska Wildlife Rehab
  • Wildcat Hills Nature Center
    Wildcat Hills Nature Center
  • Prairie Plains Resource Institue
    Prairie Plains Resource Institue
  • PMRNRD
    PMRNRD
  • Bird Conservancy of The Rockies
    Bird Conservancy of The Rockies
  • UN State Museum
    UN State Museum
  • Hastings Museum
    Hastings Museum
  • Riverside Discovery Center
    Riverside Discovery Center
  • Prairie Loft
    Prairie Loft
  • Nebraska Wildlife Federation
    Nebraska Wildlife Federation
  • Glacier Creek Prairie Preserve
    Glacier Creek Prairie Preserve
  • Nebraska Invasive Species Program
    Nebraska Invasive Species Program
  • Audubon Society of Omaha
    Audubon Society of Omaha
  • Edgerton Explorit Center.
    Edgerton Explorit Center.
  • Claire M Hubbard Foundation
    Claire M Hubbard Foundation
  • Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District
    Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District
  • Hugo A. and Thelma Aspegren Foundation
    Hugo A. and Thelma Aspegren Foundation
© 2021 Nebraska Master Naturalist Foundation

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