“Voluntourism” is fun, fascinating and makes you feel fabulous. Come face-to-face with wildlife, nurture delicate ecosystems or even teach others about Florida’s natural landscape. These opportunities will get you started.
Get involved with special projects like the Department of Environmental Protection’s Ecosystem Restoration Section, dedicated to creating, restoring and enhancing coastal dune systems, oyster reefs and salt marshes. You can help foster infant marine life by planting seagrass, making seagrass mats or even distributing oyster shells by boat to create reefs.
Help save indigenous wild birds at the nonprofit Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. Pitch in with bird care, hospital care and fundraising events, or with rescue and student internship programs. As the sanctuary website says, “To know that your work enables these animals to once again fly free is extremely fulfilling.”
Residents of the Sandoway House Nature Center include sharks, rays, fish and turtles, and you can assist the staff caring for and feeding them. Volunteers also teach about native Florida plants and animals, greet visitors or present afternoon talks about shells, turtles, fossils, gardens and the nature center.
Join the crew of the Dolphin Explorer and team up with the Ten Thousand Islands Dolphin Project, a long-term study of the bottlenose dolphins of southwest Florida. It’s the only ongoing study of wild dolphins in the country that engages the general public for everyday involvement and support.
New Smyrna Beach
Volunteer with the Marine Discovery Center, an organization committed to the health of the Indian River Lagoon Estuary. Opportunities include making oyster mats, kayak tour sweeps and rescuing birds. Some duties require training; others don’t – but it’s as sure as fins on a fish that you can lend a hand in some way.