Rookery Bay seeks Team Ocean volunteers

Special to Coastal Life

Hundreds of volunteers play a vital role in the preservation, restoration and management of the mangrove estuary at Rookery Bay Reserve in the donation of over 18,000 hours a year.

High school students get a hands-on look at the creatures living beneath the water in Rookery Bay.

Located at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands on the Gulf coast, the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve represents one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America.

The reserve is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Coastal office in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Rookery Bay Reserve’s management said the reserve could not accomplish all its research and resource management projects without the help of the many dedicated volunteers. With active projects underway, they are now seeking volunteers for many programs, including Team Ocean.

The sun sets on Rookery Bay.

Volunteers should be prepared to spend several hours outside in varying weather conditions, including hot sun, often working independently of Rookery Bay staff. They should, therefore, be reasonably fit and highly reliable and responsible.

Special requirements

To become a Team Ocean volunteer, individuals must complete the following steps:

• Attend a training course at the Environmental Learning center;

• Accompany the program coordinator, other staff, and experienced volunteers to receive on-the-job training;

• Spend additional time familiarizing themselves with Rookery Bay Reserve, coastal environments, and Keewaydin Island;

• For volunteers wishing to operate boats, additional training and demonstration of skills to Rookery Bay staff is required.

Description of duties

• Represent Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve to the public;

• Understand the purpose, general history, and core activities of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve;

• Access areas within Rookery Bay Reserve via boat and on foot;

• Greet visitors and inform them that they are in Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve;

• Provide friendly information about best practices while boating and beach going (fishing, pets, wildlife disturbance, litter and other Leave No Trace principles), including answering questions and informing visitors of rules that apply;

• Serve as a steward of the reserve;

• Pick up litter ranging from mostly small items to larger marine debris and dispose of in proper receptacles (trash and recycling);

• Repair nesting bird postings (April-August) and maintain crossover walks on Keewaydin Island;

• Record and report information to assist staff in proper management of Rookery Bay Reserve (i.e. activity data sheets, anecdotal observations);

• Follow proper procedures for safe operation and use of Rookery Bay's boats, facilities, and equipment.

Knowledge/skills desired

• Knowledge of Rookery Bay Reserve natural history and local issues;

• Friendly attitude and strong oral communication skills for engaging visitors in conversation, answering questions, and offering information;

• Experience operating boats (for those wishing to be boat operators).

• Completion of training requirements as outlined,


Volunteer orientations are hosted monthly at Rookery Bay. For questions about the volunteer program, or to RSVP for the next orientation event, email Donna Young at volunteer@

rookerybay.orgor call 239-530-5974.