Learn new skills. Build community. Support conservation and education.
DRA began as an all-volunteer organization, and it still depends on volunteers to accomplish its mission. Volunteering in all aspects of DRA programming connects members with our work, offers new training and skills, and strengthens community, while building capacity for conservation.
If you are interested in learning more about any of the following opportunities please contact us. From trail construction to events to counting horseshoe crabs, the options are many and are certain to connect members with staff and one another.
Several opportunities are listed below, and even more are listed on our Volunteer Interest Form. If you’d like to get involved as a volunteer, please fill out the form and return it to us.
Volunteer as a…
- Preserve Steward/Conservation Easement Monitor
- Water Quality Monitor
- Horseshoe Crab Counter
- Front Office Volunteer
- Community Outreach Volunteer
- Trail Tamer
- Ice Rink Maintenance Volunteer
- Warming Shack Volunteer
- Mr. or Ms. Fix-it
Visit and report on DRA conservation properties
A critical part of our land stewardship efforts are folks that volunteer as Preserve Stewards and Conservation Easement Monitors. Preserve Stewards monitor DRA preserves, perform light maintenance, and work with the Stewardship Committee to call in the Trail Tamers for bigger projects.
Conservation easements are restrictions that landowners voluntarily place on their land. Part of DRA’s responsibility as holder of these easements is annual monitoring. Conservation Easement Monitors visit easements once every year to walk the property, check for compliance with the terms of the easement, and complete a brief report.
Gather key data about the health of the river
“A free boat ride on the Damariscotta? Watching a beautiful sunset over the river? It’s a ‘no brainer.’ It’s lots of fun and helps a good cause.” Bob Barkalow, Water Quality Monitor
The Damariscotta River Estuary is a critical component of this area’s environment and economy. In order to better understand and act to protect the river, DRA has been involved with a variety of water quality monitoring projects for more than two decades.
Water samples are taken from seven locations beginning at the Darling Center and ending at the Damariscotta town float. In addition to a boat operator, two volunteers perform the tasks of lowering the equipment into the water, taking measurements, and noting them on a data collection form.
This year, the monitoring will be done once a month, during high tide, from the first week of May through the middle of October. DRA provides all technical training except boat captaining. Volunteers should expect that each monitoring session will take approximately two hours and the schedule will vary depending on tides.
Discover the habits of this ancient creature as you observe them on the estuary
Each spring, from the end of April through mid-June, volunteers spend an hour or so during high tide counting the crabs they see along the rocky shore. This is done on a daily basis and requires one volunteer to do the spotting and counting, while a second volunteer records the information. The salinity and temperature of the water are measured as well. This information is vital inasmuch as the crabs cannot survive if the salinity becomes too low. The count information is recorded in a DRA database and will be used to determine population statistics over time. Information such as this can be vital in determining the health of the overall environment, particularly in the Great Salt Bay. Training generally takes place in mid-April.
Become an ambassador for DRA
On a weekly basis or as a substitute, welcome visitors to the Heritage Center and introduce them to DRA and the Farmhouse site. Answer the phone and provide information, connect callers with DRA staff. Help visitors plan walks or participate in organized DRA activities. Be at the center of day-to-day DRA organization and a critical link to the public we serve. Take part in special DRA training and site visits to prepare for this volunteer role. Commit to no more than one three- hour shift per week, 9:00 to 12:00 or 1:00 to 4:00, or be a substitute as needed.
Share information about DRA and the river at community events
In an effort to have an increased DRA presence at local events like Olde Bristol Days, the Conservation Fair, Oyster Fest and the weekly Farmers Market we are initiating a new volunteer job – Community Outreach. Community Outreach volunteers will set up a display about the DRA at selected local events, educate the public about the mission and projects of the DRA, describe what the DRA provides for the community, and recruit new members. Community Outreach volunteers may also provide natural history interpretation with artifacts (like skulls or shells) to draw in the public and help them understand how education about nature connects people to the resources of the region.
Volunteers need to be people who can comfortably engage strangers in conversation about the DRA at public events. We will provide training about the DRA mission and organization, current projects and land stewardship, the watershed, and natural history interpretation. We will also provide membership recruitment information. We will need volunteers who are able to work at an event for two or three hour shifts (which generally requires standing outside for the duration).
Feel free to share information about this volunteer position with anyone you think might be interested in this opportunity (even if they are not currently a member or a volunteer).
“As trail stewards slowly dropped off and left a morning of trail work, they filed out like a basketball team, slapping hands as if it were the end of a game. With a nickname like Trail Tamers, this group could have been a hoops team. With the enthusiasm they brought to the task, their work unfolded like a winning game.” Deirdre Fleming, Portland Press Herald
Take part in trail work parties once a year, monthly or more
Trail Tamers monthly work parties get together to accomplish a specific stewardship project like building a bridge or clearing a section of trail. They’re scheduled for the third Thursday of each month from March to November plus some Saturdays to be determined.
As the inevitable other work projects arise we’ll also schedule special work events. Signing up will put you on the e-mail notice list for notifications, you’re welcome to join us for one or all of the events. Kids under 18 with adult supervision are also most welcome at all Trail Tamers events.
Take part in a work team to keep the ice smooth at DRA’s community rink
Sorry, there’s no Zamboni, but we do have a neat manual resurfacing tool, a snowblower and plenty of shovels. Join a team and help keep the ice available to the public free of charge on this well-used and well-loved community resource.
Create a warm retreat for skaters on cold weekend days
We are currently in need of volunteers for the Warming Shack. Plans are to open the Warming Shack from Noon to 5:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting, to offer a warm place for the skaters as well as to sell coffee and hot chocolate. We’ll need two people for each day to do a 2 ½ hour shift.
Review those episodes of This Old House and put your skills to work
Even if well-maintained, old farmhouses and barns need help and TLC along the way. From repairing cabinets or window sashes to installing built-ins for education storage, if you have some carpentry chops you’d be willing to share, we know several old buildings and thousands of community members and kids who will appreciate your involvement.