The Nature Conservancy and partners are looking for highly motivated and hard-working individuals to assist our team at the Ordway Prairie Preserve in Leola, South Dakota on various management and research projects. This is an excellent opportunity to gain skills related to grassland management and conservation or to just utilize your expertise by donating time to a project. Past volunteers have obtained a wide range of experiences from operating equipment, conducting field research, to plant identification all while enjoying life on a bison/cattle ranch in the beautiful Missouri Coteau region of South Dakota.
Volunteers can assist with any one or combination of projects listed below. A minimum three-week commitment is requested. Additional skills required are listed under each project.
Monitoring Volunteers will help complete grassland bird surveys (May 23- June 15), butterfly surveys (June 27 - July 20) and/or vegetation surveys (July 11 - September 30) as part of an ongoing ecological monitoring project. Ability to identify species, use GPS and maps to navigate to remote locations, follow established protocol and accurately record data is needed.
Invasive Species Volunteers are needed to assist with invasive species control and monitoring (June 1 – Sept 25). This will primarily involve applying herbicides but may also involve working with biocontrol insects, hand pulling or mowing. Monitoring involves mapping and collecting data on plant numbers, size of infestation and pasture conditions. Must be able to obtain a South Dakota pesticide applicators license (test available online), safely work with herbicides and spraying equipment, use a GPS unit and identify invasive species.
Bison Research Volunteers are needed to assist with a cooperative project, led by Gustavus Adolphus College, investigating behavior of bison bulls during the breeding season (approximately July 6-August 14). A week of intense training will be provided, after which volunteers and other staff members will work cooperatively to collect data. Must have ability to work long hours observing bison behavior, identifying individual bison bulls, operating electronic equipment (video/audio/GPS), accurately recording data, following research protocol, working as part of a team and making independent decisions. Volunteers must be available during the first week when training will be provided. The end date is flexible.
Housing for volunteers is available on the preserve. Housing is shared with other volunteers, staff, and researchers. Anyone staying in TNC housing is required to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Basic furniture, appliances and utilities, including wireless internet are provided (except personal use of phone and TV service).
Volunteers must be able to work long hours in the field, be able to work in all weather conditions, and able to safely operate equipment such as ATVs once trained. Additional skills/qualities and time commitments needed are listed under each project above.
How to apply:
Submit a resume and letter of interest including project(s) of interest, dates available, and applicable qualifications to firstname.lastname@example.org.