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, schools, landowners, neighbors and residents of rural and urban communities to make a lasting difference. Find out how you can help make American lands healthier and communities stronger while doing something personally satisfying.


A refuge volunteer holding a monarch butterfly. 

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.

DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge is always looking for volunteers, especially to help staff our visitor center front desk, assist with refuge events and programs, conduct trail safety checks, picking up litter and assisting with habitat work. The refuge also hosts large scale volunteer days during the annual Spring Spruce Up, National Public Lands Day conservation projects, and the Christmas Bird Count. If interested in volunteering, please fill out the volunteer application form and email it to the volunteer coordinator Peter Rea at peter_rea@fws.gov or via mail to DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, 1434 316th Lane, Missouri Valley, IA 51555.

Our Partners

Raptor Recovery presenting during an eagle release on DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge. 

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.

The refuge cooperates on many projects between partners like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Nebraska Game and Park, Iowa County Conservation Boards, Ducks Unlimited, local schools and many universities.

Another key partner is our friends organization. The Friends of Boyer Chute and DeSoto National Wildlife Refuges, Inc. mission is to support the refuges in their efforts to preserve, protect and restore the biological diversity and historical resources of the refuges, while providing the opportunity for wildlife oriented activities, education and scientific research.

Friends Groups Are:

  • Advocates for a local refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge System
  • Formal organizations designed to support the mission of the refuges
  • Private, independent organization formed and managed by local citizens

For more information contact:
Friends of Boyer Chute and DeSoto NWRs
P.O. Box 73
Fort Calhoun, NE 68023
E-mail: Jim Morley - thelodge@abbnebraska.com


Children posing with a frog. 

DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge provides a number of citizen science opportunities throughout the year. In the spring, volunteers and community members conduct the annual Spring Bird Count which helps provide trends in bird numbers. The Christmas Bird Count is another annual citizen-led count on the refuge. In September, the refuge offers monarch tagging opportunities for the public to help collect important research data on the journey of this amazing butterfly.

Throughout the year, the refuge provides interpretive programming that is open to public participation. Program topics include migratory birds, waterfowl, bald eagles, hunting opportunities and more. During the summer months, the junior ranger program series is offered for school-aged kids. Programs for this series include wetland studies, bird watching, fishing and bluebird house building.

To learn more about upcoming programming, pick up a refuge events calendar at the visitor center or call us at 712-388-4800.

Education Programs

A refuge volunteer teaching a young girl to fish. 

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.

Each year DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge partners with Blair High School to provide a work-study program offering high school students hands-on learning opportunities in the wildlife field through participation in relevant refuge mission related projects.

The refuge also works with high school and college students to provide volunteer internship opportunities throughout the year working with the visitor services, maintenance, and biology programs.

Formal paid internships in visitor services, biology, and maintenance are also offered on a regular basis based on refuge needs. Internships are usually for the summer months and the application process typically occurs in late wintertime period.

For more information about education programs or to schedule a visit please contact peter_rea@fws.gov or call 712-388-4803.

A class of students look out at a body of water.
The mission of the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Education Program is to help connect our students grades K-12 with the natural world through curriculum guided outdoor learning in the wetlands, prairies, and forest ecosystems. Through our curriculum, multiple grade levels use...