Community Science and Education Volunteer Program

The enthusiasm, commitment and collaboration of volunteers are vital to the mission of the North Inlet-Winyah Bay Reserve. Community support and engagement is essential to achieving our goals of understanding and protecting coastal ecosystems. We believe that inviting community members to participate in research, monitoring, and education programs at the Reserve will build a stronger coalition of support for the conservation of our coastal ecosystems. 

Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities

Trash-Free Winyah Clean-up
Sunday, December 10 from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM at Hobcaw Barony, Georgetown

Road-side trash is carried by wind and rain into our estuaries, where it can harm turtles, birds, fish and habitats. This trash can also end up costing us 100’s of thousands of dollars in cleanup and repair of county stormwater systems and public spaces. While the long term solution is to reduce incidental and end intentional littering, we can work together to prevent the trash already in our environment from doing further damage through litter clean-ups.

Trash-Free Winyah is an effort organized by the North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Keep It Green Pawley’s Island, and Georgetown County to keep litter our of North Inlet and Winyah Bay by engaging volunteers in clean-ups and data collection.

Participants in highway clean-ups must be at least 18 years old. Gloves, trash pickers, safety vest and snacks will be provided. We will have safety signage in place and cover safety precautions prior to starting. Participants in marsh-edge clean-ups should be prepared for strenuous walking and muddy conditions.

How to Volunteer with the Reserve

1. Review some of our current volunteer opportunities

The reserve engages in activities to preserve, protect, enhance and restore natural ecosystems and our coastal community. These activities are usually one-day or short term events that are open to all who want to participate and do not require training in advance. Examples would include marsh and highway litter clean-ups, and bioblitz species surveys.

Volunteer stewardship activities are advertised through our website, the Reserve e-newsletter,
through our Facebook page, or you can sign up to receive email notifications of volunteer and training opportunities.

You can sign up for these activities through our upcoming events registration page.

Assist Reserve staff with leading public programs. For more information, view the Volunteer Duties Public Programs for each program.

The National Phytoplankton Monitoring Network (PMN) is a community-based network of volunteers monitoring marine phytoplankton and harmful algal blooms (HABs). Volunteers collect water samples on a bi-weekly basis from North Inlet and surrounding areas and meet at the Baruch Marine Field lab to examine the samples for the presence of harmful algae. Results are reported to the National PMN. This data creates a comprehensive list of harmful algal species inhabiting coastal marine waters and helps to identify general trends where harmful algal blooms are more likely to occur. Training on phytoplankton identification, sample collection, and lab equipment use is provided by reserve staff.

NIWB PMN Volunteer Page

Phenology is the study of the timing of seasonal plant and animal life-cycle events, including the flowering of plants, ripening of fruit, the emergence of insects, and migration of birds. The timing, duration and intensity of these events are sensitive to seasonal and long-term changes in temperature and precipitation. Volunteers with this project monitor phenological events to aid in the assessment of the vulnerability of species, populations, and salt marsh ecological communities to ongoing climate change. 

Phenology Monitoring Volunteer Page

Help to survey backyard biodiversity throughout the 3rd largest watershed on the east coast!

Find out more about the project and tips and tutorials in the Wiyah Wildlife blog on the Winyah Wildlife Project Page

See the species tally and help identify fellow project participants finds on the iNaturalist Project Page

South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream (SC AAS) creates a network of watershed stewardship, engagement, and education through involvement. SC AAS volunteers can play an important role in monitoring and tracking water quality while sharing information about local water resources with their communities. The Reserve is partnering with the SC AAS program to serve as a training and volunteer hub for AAS volunteers.

Learn more about the SC AAS program.

2. Fill out a volunteer interest form

Volunteer Interest

3. View training and resources for volunteers

»Volunteer Orientation Training Videos

Upcoming Stewardship Program Events

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Sign Up for the latest news and events

Find out what’s going on at the Reserve with our monthly e-news letter and twice yearly North Inlet & Winyah Bay Bulletin.