Water-Related News

Rookery Bay, Estero Bay Preserves seeking volunteers

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NAPLES – Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples and Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve in Fort Myers Beach are seeking volunteers for outdoor positions. Volunteers with some boating or captaining experience in local waters is preferred.

The Team OCEAN program at Rookery Bay Reserve is seeking volunteers to operate vessels and provide other types of program support. The Rookery Bay Reserve protects 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters that serve as habitat for many of the state’s imperiled species.

“It’s not necessary to be a licensed boat captain,” said Rookery Bay Reserve’s Volunteer Coordinator Donna Young. “We’ll provide the training.”

Volunteers operating boats require some extra training, including an online course to ensure they will be safe on the water and meeting with the reserve’s dockmaster to learn about safe operation of Rookery Bay Reserve’s vessels.

Volunteer boat operators will transport other volunteers to areas in the reserve where they conduct visitor surveys, pick up trash and provide information about safe-boating practices and enjoying the beach responsibly. Team OCEAN volunteers are required to sign up for 4-hour shifts at least twice per month.

Also needed are vessel operators to transport research staff and volunteers to areas in the reserve where shorebirds and other wildlife are monitored. These volunteer shifts run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a twice per month commitment.

For businesses, groups or organizations looking for a way to get outdoors while volunteering, Rookery Bay Reserve offers other options such as trail maintenance, light construction and other outdoor assistance at the reserve’s Shell Island Road location.

The Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve located in Lee County is seeking volunteer assistance with rookery monitoring and protection. A rookery is a location traditionally used by birds for nesting and raising chicks. The birds that inhabit mangrove islands in the aquatic preserve include various species of herons, egrets and pelicans. Volunteers are needed to help conduct nest counts, record data and operate vessels.

Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve volunteers set out monthly on the preserve’s 17-foot Boston Whaler to do perimeter surveys of active nests. Training for this volunteer opportunity can be completed that day on the boat. The survey trips last about six hours and leave from either Lover’s Key or Estero Bay around 9 a.m.

For more information about Rookery Bay Reserve’s volunteering opportunities or to sign up, email Donna Young at or visit Rookery Bay's website.

For more information about Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve’s volunteering opportunities or to sign up, contact Cheryl Clark, preserve manager, or call (239) 463-3240.

About Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve Fact Sheet