DNREC is full of opportunities to get involved in environmental activities throughout the state. The department is always looking for volunteer help to reach more people, take on large monitoring efforts, and maintain Delaware's beautiful habitats.
Delaware may be a small state, but some spectacular ecological events take place here every year. These events require monitoring that can be vast and time-consuming, leading DNREC to enlist the help of volunteers for data collection. Aside from the popular horseshoe crab spawning survey, help is needed to monitor shorebirds, other bird species, and bats.
Educating Delaware residents and visitors is important to DNREC, but there is so much information to cover and many programs in different locations around the state, that it would be nearly impossible to undertake this effort utilizing department staff alone. Volunteers for the various outreach programs are greatly appreciated and are needed for a wide range of topics.
Much effort goes into keeping Delaware's habitats safe, clean, and functional for both the people and wildlife that depend on it. DNREC needs volunteers to help with upkeep activities, such as cleanup events, beach grass planting, trail maintenance, and invasive species removal. A great deal can be accomplished if everyone pitches in to care for the environment.
Research & Monitoring
Citizen science is a great way for DNREC to involve interested members of the community in collecting data for a number of research and monitoring efforts. These include:
The Horseshoe Crab (HSC) Spawning Survey documents a remarkable ecological event each spring where thousands of horseshoe crabs gather nightly on Delaware Bay beaches to spawn. DNREC has numerous volunteers who collect data on spawning numbers and locations in order to help inform species management decisions.
During the time span of 2010-2018, HSC Spawning Survey volunteers have contributed more than one quarter of all DNERR volunteer hours on average. These trained citizen scientists enable this large data collection effort to take place.
Education & Outreach
DNREC has so many outreach efforts, it's hard for them all to get time in the spotlight. However, we're always looking for more education volunteers. For instance, the Time Travelers program seeks assistance from those who have an interest in studying the past to assist professional archaeologists and historians in delivering programs with a focus on Delaware history and cultural heritage. Training opportunities are available on-the-job and in a classroom setting. Additionally, most people who are familiar with research opportunities with Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) may not know they also look for volunteer educators and host training programs twice per year to best prepare these educators for public and school group programming.
Conservation & Restoration
There is a significant amount of manual labor that goes into maintaining parks and wildlife areas. Not only do these places need to be kept up for recreational purposes, but they must be maintained to provide habitat for wildlife, invasive species control, and protection from erosion. Opportunities include:
Volunteers are invaluable
Volunteers help increase public environmental awareness, conduct large research efforts, and complete more stewardship projects. The efforts of these passionate and dedicated people also save the state money. State Park volunteers were valued at over $1 million from 2016-2018 (based on an average seasonal employee wage of $10/hour), but the benefit of this work to the environment is priceless.
These are just several of the different ways to volunteer and make a difference. Refer to the DNREC calendar of events to see what other activities and opportunities the department has to offer.

Page reviewed 5/14/19