Did you know that the Nisqually River divides Thurston from Pierce County? This river is created by a glacier on Mount Rainier and you can view the glacier in Mount Rainier National Park and then go all the way to the end of the river to view the estuary in the Billy Frank, Jr. Wildlife Refuge, where the Nisqually freshwater river meets the Puget Sound ocean water. This journey that the Nisqually makes from Mt. Rainier to the Sound has resulted in a watershed.

In the Nisqually watershed community, we have so many volunteer opportunities. Check out five possibilities that you can do:

  1. nw trek
    Rachel Mueller works in the NW Trek Conservation program and takes Nisqually volunteers out in the field to learn.

    Nisqually Land Trust (NLT) – They offer weekly volunteer tree-planting opportunities near Mt. Rainier. The NLT was founded in 1989 and can buy land to manage, which permanently benefits the wildlife, water and people of the watershed. As an NLT volunteer, you are able to observe and report what you find on the land that you are assigned. Contact: volunteer@nisquallylandtrust.com

  2. Nisqually River Education Project (NREP) – Are you a teacher who has students in the Nisqually watershed? NREP offers activities like Eye on Nature field trips, salmon-tossing, water-quality-monitoring and the annual GREEN Congress at Evergreen State College. The beauty of the student GREEN Congress is that elementary students in the watershed review water quality data from earlier in the year, and they get to present what they learned to experts and professionals who help mentor them. Contact: info@nisquallyriver.org

  3. Nisqually watershed
    Every year the Nisqually Steam Steward class graduates at the Nisqually Watershed Festival in September.

    Nisqually Stream Stewards (NSS)  Offered by the Nisqually River Council and the Nisqually Native-American tribe is an annual free class that is open to anyone interested in learning about the watershed. They provide 40 hours of training in exchange for 40 hours of your volunteer time to become a citizen-scientist. You could meet and network with any program in the watershed. The NSS class exposes you to all the watershed has to offer and gives you the freedom to choose where you want to volunteer there. Every summer starting in June, they recruit new volunteers for the stream steward class, so watch out for this amazing opportunity to be invested in the watershed. The class graduates at the annual Nisqually Watershed Festival every September. Contact: streamstewards@nisquallyriver.org.

  4. Nisqually volunteer
    Sheila Wilson is the Nisqually River Education Project manager and is showing students how to dissect fish at the Nisqually Watershed Festival.

    Billy Frank, Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge – Did you know that the wildlife refuge offers a junior duck stamp contest, morning bird walks, and features many volunteers opportunities that you can sign up for? The wildlife refuge is not only for the birds, however. If you are interested in learning more about the refuge, nisqually@fws.gov and Friends of the Nisqually, a non-profit organization that helps with outreach programs in the wildlife refuge, will engage you. They are dedicated to promoting public awareness, conservation and preservation of wildlife habitat as well as providing the public seminars and publications to enhance the understanding and appreciation of the Puget Sound. Contact: nisqually@fws.gov

  5. Northwest Trek Wildlife Park – Owned by Metro Parks Tacoma, Northwest Trek is a place for anyone interested in the outdoors. If learning about wildlife and engaging the public sounds appealing, then you are most welcome. They have different types of volunteers, everything from education-based to volunteers for special events.
    Volunteer opportunities nisqually
    Every year, Northwest Trek offers a NatureMapping series that volunteers can go out and learn about wildlife and plants in the field.

    The park also offers internships to applicants who are at least 18 years of age, either a college student or recent graduate and are flexible with his or her schedule. Have you ever wanted to observe nature and learn what each thing you see is as you participate? The park offers nature-mapping, FrogWatch USA, Amphibian Egg Mass Survey Program, and elk survey field trips that you can be a part of. Contact: volunteers@nwtrek.org

Nisqually is a very dynamic watershed with opportunities for everyone in the community to get involved in. If you are able, the benefits of getting out in the watershed, in any area from the mountain to the sound, are priceless.

All of these programs are searchable on Facebook, so seek them out and like their pages to watch for seasonal opportunities. Through the many programs offered in the watershed, you will likely fall in love with the efforts to educate everyone and the connection you get while being in nature. What are you waiting for? Get out, email, Facebook, Instagram and ask to be a Nisqually volunteer in various parts of the watershed today.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at submit@thurstontalk.com. For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and the surrounding area, visit our complete events calendar.

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