Ways to Get Involved

Whether you want to further conservation, learn more about nature or share your love of the outdoors, you’ve come to the right place. National wildlife refuges provide many opportunities for you to help your community by doing what you love. National wildlife refuges partner with volunteers, youth groups, landowners, neighbors and residents of urban and coastal communities to make a lasting difference. Find out how you can help make American lands healthier and communities stronger while doing something personally satisfying.


Discover for yourself what tens of thousands of volunteers have learned: Volunteering for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is fun and rewarding in many ways. Learn new skills, meet new friends and enjoy a sense of accomplishment from doing your part to further wildlife conservation for the pleasure of generations to follow.

Our station has a range of volunteer opportunities available from photography to trail maintenance. Let us know your interests. Send us an email at illinoisriver@fws.gov or check out nationwide volunteer opportunities on volunteer.gov.

Our Partners

Nature does not recognize human-made boundaries. In order to conserve our natural and cultural resources effectively, we must work with others to bridge these boundaries. Partnerships foster creative solutions to challenging situations and often the results are greater than the sum of the parts. Chautauqua refuge works with private landowner, researchers, universities, non-profits and state and federal agencies to reach conservation goals.

Many of our closest partners are members of the Emiquon Partnership. This partnership is comprised of the research and land management organizations that work within the Emiquon Complex. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuges Complex, The Illinois State's Dickson Mounds Museum, the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Forbes Biological and Illinois River Field Stations, The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve and the University of Illinois Springfield’s Therkildsen Field Station.

How many ducks do you see? Our Partners at the Illinois Natural History Survey's Forbes Biological Station have been conducting aerial inventories since 1948!

Each year the Emiquon Partnership hosts the Emiquon Science Symposium, giving local researches an opportunity to share their projects related to rivers, floodplains, and wetlands, with special emphasis on the Emiquon Preserve and its related waters. These researchers may involve community science. Contact us if you would like to volunteer as a community scientist!

Check out the seasonal waterfowl and shorebird counts conducted by our partners, the Illinois Natural History Survey's Forbes Biological Station. They have been conducting surveys of the refuge by plane for over 70 years.


Eagle Day offers exiting opportunities for participants of all ages to connect with nature.

Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge staff collaborate with partnering organizations to offer visitors unique opportunities to get involved with and learn more about conservation actions in the area through the Emiquon Partnership. 

Many of our events are hosted at the Dickson Mounds Museum located just outside of the Emiquon refuge. The first Thursday of each month, we work with the Museum to host Tot-Time. Every winter the community comes together to celebrate the return of Eagles during the Fulton-Mason Eagle Day Event. Check our our event page to see if we have any upcoming events.

Education Programs

 Open the door to a potentially life-changing experience. If you land a student internship, a fellowship or a volunteer opportunity at a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
, fish hatchery or other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service site, you’re bound to come away with new insights and excitement about conservation.

Youth Conservation Corps

Each summer, Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge Complex offers an opportunity for local youth employment through the Youth Conservation Corps program. This youth employment program engages young people ages 15 through 18 in meaningful work experiences on public lands while developing an ethic of environmental stewardship and civic responsibility. These youth programs are generally 8 to 10 weeks long and participants are paid the minimum wage for a 40-hour work week.

Youth Conservation Corps members work in healthful outdoor settings on a range of projects including building trails, maintaining fences, improving wildlife habitat, conducting environmental education, restoring streams. Members also participate in educational field trips, exploring the local landscape with our partnering organizations. If you or someone you know is interested in the Youth Conservation Corps program, contact us at illinoisriver@fws.gov and we will send you more information about how to apply.


Seasonal Biotech assessing tadpole population, searching for the for the State Threaten Illinois Chorus Frog. From wetland monitoring to public outreach, seasonal internships offers numerous career learning opportunities to students.

Students interested in wildlife conservation and stewardship of the environment are encouraged to apply for the internship opportunities at the refuges within Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge Complex. The refuge complex offers both paid and unpaid internships, unpaid opportunities may include free housing. Volunteering for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a great way for students and young people to learn firsthand about conservation and explore possible careers. We have biological and visitor services internships available, contact us at Illinoisriver@fws.gov. Nationwide opportunities are posted at volunteer.gov. To find opportunities aimed at young people, enter “student” or “teen” in the site’s search field. When paid internships are available, they are posted on usajobs.gov.