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Visitor Services

Fish & Wildlife Service

Job category:
Compensation: RV Site Only
Hookups: Full (FHU)
Wi-Fi: Yes
Pets OK?: Yes

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Job Description


Fish & Wildlife Service

Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge
906 W Sinclair Rd
Calipatria, California 92233

DATES: 10/1/2022 – 4/30/2023


The Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWRC in Calipatria, CA is in need of volunteers to staff our Visitor Center for the 2022-2023 Fall/Winter/Spring visitation season.


Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, located in Southern California, is currently recruiting 4-8 volunteers for the 2022-2023 fall, winter, and spring visitor seasons. Fall and Winter are our peak visitor seasons, while spring sees a handful of educational tours taking place at the refuge. Starting February 2023, we will ask our volunteers to help us educate visitors on available recreation opportunities as the Refuge undergoes a massive trail renovation project.





We provide 2 camper pads with full hook-ups located with the refuge headquarters. One RV pad is covered next to our residence area, while the second RV is adjacent to our rye fields and shaded by large mesquite trees. Volunteers will also have full access to “Animal Hospital” Washers and Dryers and our Wifi. Our previous volunteers preferred using their own setup due to the slow speed. While we offer RV pads, we currently do not offer housing for our volunteers.


The immediate area is very rural, the Refuge borders the shoreline of the Salton Sea to the North and agriculture and geothermal plants to the south. Fuel, groceries, medical, and other services are found in the nearby communities of Calipatria and Westmorland (8-9 miles away) or Brawley (20 miles away) and El Centro. Brawley has a hospital and major grocery stores like Vons and Walmart, and El Centro (10 miles south of Brawley) has a mall, movie theater, and Costco among other things. Outdoor recreation options include but are not limited to Joshua Tree National Park, Santa Rosa and the San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Cleveland National Forest, and San Diego all within a 2-hour drive.


Pets are welcome at the refuge, we just ask that you keep them on a leash at all times. No exceptions! The refuge and our partners drive trucks and other heavy equipment around our Refuge HQ, this is not a safe place for unattended pets.




The position will be located at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters.


The Refuge has 6,000 acres of desert uplands, tree rows, wetlands, open water and seasonal duck ponds, shoreline, and farmland. Our entire site totals 37,900 acres, though the majority of this land is below the Salton Sea. We offer wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education, waterfowl hunting, and hiking, with two easy hiking trails and several observation decks available for visitor use.


The Refuge’s primary purpose is to protect migratory birds. It is a critical stop along the Pacific Flyway, with over 400 species of birds documented traveling through the refuge and tens of thousands of birds staying here for the winter. This place is really like no other!



This position is a mix of indoors and outdoor work, operating the Visitor Center, bookstore, gardening in front of the VC, trail cleaning, and trail talks. The position is open to volunteers with their own RV/camper, or those living within local commuting distance of the Refuge.


Responsibilities include:


interacting with visitors in a courteous and professional manner
providing information on the Refuge and surrounding area
operating cash register and software
inventory and stocking of bookstore items
answering and directing phone calls
keeping the Visitor Center, public areas, and restrooms clean
generally making our visitor experience the best possible

Other opportunities are also available depending on your interests and skills: maintenance, biology, farming, photography, group tours, and environmental education/outreach.



24 hours/week minimum are required for volunteers living on-site
Minimum commitment of 3 months is preferred.
Current preferred openings October-December, January-March/April
Some flexibility in scheduling is possible.

We are looking for reliable, friendly, and motivated individuals or couples to staff our Visitor Center and bookstore. Volunteers with skills in customer service, environmental education, birding, biology, and/or other environmental sciences are preferred, though we welcome anyone with the drive to learn something new! Training will be provided.


See full job description for instructions on how to apply:



Clerical/Office Machines
Conservation Education
General Assistance
Hand Power Tools
Heavy Equipment
Public Speaking
Visitor Information
Working with People


Volunteers work in the visitor center/gift shop and assist with light maintenance such as trash pick up, watering the plants, etc. We welcome both couples and single volunteers. Volunteers are asked to staff the VC 3-4 times a week depending on schedule and availability. During the week day, other refuge office staff maybe be available to provide some assistance with your duties, but during the weekend we ask that you be able to work well independently. More details are provided below.




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