|Howard and Susan Berkowitz of Riverside County, Calif., spend time taking care of the landscape at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Gnat Creek Hatchery near Astoria. The couple spends two months a year at the hatchery in their fifth-wheel trailer, helping out with chores and enjoying the surrounding coastal forest, trails and nearby Oregon coast.
CLACKAMAS, Ore. – People who are looking to get off the beaten path to places where they can get close to nature for extended periods may want to look into becoming a volunteer host with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
ODFW is now accepting applications from persons interested in becoming volunteer hosts at many of the agency’s 46 wildlife areas, fish hatcheries and field offices around the state. Many of these sites offer unparalleled opportunities to see a vast array of the fish and wildlife in some of the most unique and spectacular areas of Oregon.
ODFW is now recruiting people with self-contained recreational vehicles who are interested in staying at ODFW sites for periods ranging from one to three months starting in January of 2009.
“This is a great way to travel around and discover new parts of Oregon,” said Jennell Hoehne, volunteer coordinator for ODFW’s Northwest Region in Clackamas, Ore. “Most of our sites are in close proximity to mountains, streams and trails and offer high-quality, low-cost access to boundless recreational opportunities.”
In addition to the unique natural amenities, most of the sites offer full RV hookups – sewer, water, electricity – and, in some cases, showers and even laundry facilities, all of which are available to hosts at no charge. In return, volunteer hosts commit to working 20 hours a week each doing various chores around the facilities.
Duties vary with each site, but typically include groundskeeping, maintenance and clerical work but can also entail more unusual activities like feeding fish, banding waterfowl, baiting bears and counting deer and elk. Volunteer hosts also carry out an equally important mission – serving as goodwill ambassadors to the thousands of visitors to ODFW facilities each year. Volunteer hosts are considered official representatives of ODFW during their tenure with the agency.
Volunteer hosts play a crucial role in helping ODFW carry out its mission of protecting and enhancing Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, according to Randy Lewis, volunteer coordinator for the agency’s High Desert Region in Bend.
Lewis said that hosts help cover staffing shortfalls and bring in new ideas, energy and enthusiasm to the organization.
To learn more about the volunteer host program, obtain an application or view the list of sites available for 2009, visit ODFW’s website at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/volunteer/host_program.asp or contact Jennell Hohne by phone at (971) 673-6008 or by email at email@example.com.