The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is recruiting four volunteers available from approximately Sep 5th to late January 2023 to participate in an invasive plant control project at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Selected volunteers will spend about 3-weeks in Honolulu for preparation and training before being deployed to Palmyra Atoll for approximately 4-months.
Palmyra Atoll is located in the central Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 miles south of Hawaii. Palmyra is a thickly vegetated set of islands with abundant rainfall; hot, humid temperatures; and rustic living conditions. It is uninhabited except for a small crew who manage a field station and FWS personnel who manage the refuge resources. Volunteers will have the rare opportunity to live in this remote setting surrounded by rainforest, seabirds, land crabs and rich coral reefs. The volunteers will be participating in an exciting long-term project to realign Palmyra’s rainforest from coconut dominated to native forest. This island restoration project’s ultimate goal is to improve island and coral reef resiliency to climate change.
Duties and Responsibilities: Volunteers will work 8-hours a day 6-days a week for the entire ~4 months on Palmyra without any chance of leaving the atoll. Volunteers will spend the majority of their time, (~32 hours a week), on tasks related to the coconut palm control project. Volunteers will be controlling coconut palms using manual techniques (hacking with machetes) and herbicide applications. The work is extremely strenuous and repetitive, requiring crewmembers to be in excellent physical condition to cope with long hours of stooping, swinging, and hauling in hot and humid conditions. Volunteers will participate in data management and report writing, as well as the cleaning, maintenance, and repair work needed to keep the project going in a remote tropical environment. The volunteers are part of the atoll community and are expected to contribute to basic field station chores such as laundry, cleaning, trash collection, rust abatement, etc. Volunteers will spend approximately 8-hours a week on other biological conservation tasks as needed, for example: invasive plant removal experiments, plant surveys and monitoring, native tree propagation and planting, seabird surveys, marine debris surveys, and starfish surveillance snorkels. Volunteers must be able to swim, snorkel and work from a boat. Many workdays will involve motorboat or kayak operations. Refuge personnel work closely with The Nature Conservancy and volunteers will be interacting with a variety of people from heavy equipment mechanics to philanthropists to scientists. Volunteers are expected to represent the US. Fish and Wildlife Service at all times in a professional manner, which may include providing interpretive tours and presentations to visitors. The closest definitive medical care is located 1,000 miles away and professional care may take up to 4-days to be received. There is no cell reception on the atoll, satellite-based internet can be poor, and opportunities for mail are limited. Volunteers must be prepared to only bring one suitcase and go the entire time without any resupplies. Meals are provided by the TNC station and there is no capacity to provide for any specialized diet other than vegetarian.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will provide: Transportation to and from Honolulu, HI from major US cities; Housing in Honolulu and Palmyra; Food while stationed on Palmyra (but not for periods in Honolulu for training); and personal protective equipment.
Qualified volunteers must:
• Be a U.S. citizen and possess a current passport that does not expire for at least 1-year or a non-US citizen that at the time of the application submission already possesses a US visa that allows the candidate to work in the US through February 2022. Possession of a valid U.S. driver’s license is preferred.
• Be physically and mentally prepared for living and working on an isolated atoll in a small community without modern conveniences for an extended period.
• Be able to perform all duties in equatorial weather conditions including high heat and humidity, strong winds, and rain.
• Be able to pass a snorkel/swim fitness test.
• Be able to lift and carry 50-lbs, ride a bicycle, kayak up to 6-miles round trip, and walk at least 5-miles a day over variable terrain, including water-covered mud flats, thick rainforests, and beaches while carrying up to 35-lbs.
• Be able to perform repetitive stooping, twisting and bending motions throughout the day such as hacking 8 inches above the ground with a machete then piling the palm fronds. Individuals who enjoy physical challenges and/or team sports preferred.
• Be able to supply their own work outfits and snorkeling gear.
• Be able to work well independently as well as side-by-side for extended periods.
The best-suited candidates are easy-going with a good sense of humor, display a mature and professional persona, are flexible under changing conditions and possess a strong physical and mental constitution.
Prior experience in the following is preferred, but not required: remote work, long-term camping, or rustic living; working as a member of a small team; participant in team sports or other athletic endeavors for fun; operating small motorboats and kayaks; invasive plant control (terrestrial); plant propagation; species monitoring or surveying; familiarity with computer software such as Google Earth, Microsoft Word and Excel; and general skills in maintenance of equipment and facilities.
Please e-mail the following as one PDF document so Susan_a_hunter@fws.gov
1) Volunteer Service Application Form that can be found here: https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/of-301-volunteer-service-application-expires-10-31-24-508.pdf
2) cover letter
4) At least three references