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Volunteer projects

The following project descriptions are in alphabetical order. See volunteer event dates and updates for a chronological list of the current year's projects and dates.

If you are interested in volunteering but unsure what for, contact our Volunteer Coordinator William Greene.

For more information or to register as a volunteer for any of the following projects, phone 403 859-2224 or fill in the form indicating the name of the project you are interested in within the message box of the form.

FREE park entry is provided for all who volunteer on a project.

Adopt-a-patch

Orientation late May and then ongoing work as volunteer's time permits through September. 

That’s right! You can adopt and be known for your very own patch of the park, a World Heritage Site no less, by assisting our restoration crew in keeping that patch clear of particular invasive weeds.

Our specialists will train you and assist you in locating an appropriate patch to adopt. Then come work in it through the growing season as your time permits. Bonus – the scenic views and wildlife viewing are often great from the adopted patch.

With over 1,000 native vascular plants, including rare plants and hundreds of colourful wildflowers, Waterton’s diversity is truly special. However, introduced invaders threaten that natural beauty. Your efforts will help to keep Waterton’s wildflowers blooming for visitors and the many animals, bugs, and birds that depend on them.

Requirements:

  • Complete training to develop competence in plant identification, mechanical weed control and safety procedures
  • Be available throughout the summer to visit and work in your patch of the park

Volunteer duties:

  • Visit the adopted patch to control weeds
  • Fill out weed control forms when you work independently in your patch
  • Use safety equipment provided and follow safety procedures
  • Sign-out equipment when needed and return it promptly when finished
Campground hosts

Mid-May to Mid-September, Belly River Campground (primitive facilities).
No campground hosts in 2016 in Crandell Mountain Campground.

Are you friendly and outgoing? Do you enjoy camping and helping other people? Are you enthusiastic about national park values, interested in passing along key park messages and working within the park mandate? Then consider volunteering for two weeks (or more) as a campground host.

Each year, thousands of people from around the world visit Waterton Lakes National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Help make their experience a memorable one by becoming a campground host.

Requirements - must be:

  • Available to participate in training prior to going on volunteer duty
  • Willing to volunteer for two weeks, a minimum of two hours a day (usually around supper time)
  • Able to provide own self-contained camping (host site provided)
  • Comfortable with representing Parks Canada values and mandate

Volunteer duties:

  • Assist campers registering for campsites
  • Answer information related queries about the Park
  • Provide a welcome to new campers
  • Inform Parks Canada staff of any problems you or other campers encounter at the campground
  • Act as an initial point of contact for campers in case of an emergency

Want to know more or volunteer?

See volunteer event dates and updates for a list of start dates. Complete a volunteer form. In the message section, be sure to include the dates of potential two-week periods that you would like to volunteer.

Preference is given to trained, returning volunteers. Applications are accepted year round for the periods listed at the start.

Grasses and Flowering Plants Planting

June through early October, weekdays.

There's nothing like the accomplishment felt when looking back over a successful day or half-day's planting amongst the scenic backdrop of the park. This is a great chance to assist park restoration crews by helping them plant transplant "plugs" of native grasses and flowering plants at various locations throughout the park. The plants are grown in Glacier National Park's nursery from seeds collected by volunteers and staff here in Waterton Lakes National Park. Straddling the Canada-USA border, Waterton and Glacier national arks form the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. This is part of several cooperative projects amongst staff and volunteers of the respective parks.

Requirements:

  • Bring food, water and appropriate footwear for half a day outside or a full day depending on the specific planting project.
  • Planting tools, knee pads and gloves are supplied by the park.

Volunteer duties:

  • Hike to the planning site carrying tools and/or trays of plant plugs. All sites will involve some off-trail travel.
  • Work location, likely duration and amount of hiking to the planting site will be identified and emailed prior to volunteers committing to the specific planting day.
  • Plant according to instructions of park experts
  • Travel through the planting area will involve carry planting equipment on terrain that is off-trail and may be rugged or steep
  • Volunteers may also help to map where new plantings are for subsequent monitoring
Group volunteer projects

June to September.

Waterton offers a variety of volunteer activities for organized groups and teambuilding outings. Bring your office colleagues, extended family or Guide or Scout group to help clean a shoreline, host a special event or assist with park restoration by controlling invasive weed species with your coworkers for a morning or afternoon as part of a well-rounded day in the park. Contact the volunteer coordinator to arrange a time and activity that suits your group.

Knapweed Rodeo

July, Blakiston Fan.

Howdy partner! Help us corral this Waterton weed. Spotted Knapweed is an invasive plant that can take over native landscapes by releasing toxins from its roots and producing 12,000 or more seeds from a single plant. By pulling it before it goes to seed, we can keep this weed corralled and stop it from taking over critical wildlife habitat. Oh, and don't forget your cowboy hat!

Requirements:

  • No experience necessary - just a willingness to help pick and bag knapweed
  • Bring your appetite for a FREE BBQ lunch 
  • Does involve repetitive, light physical labour (bending over, picking up)
  • Volunteer for a half-day shift (or longer!)

Volunteer duties:

  • Pitch in and head off a stampede of billions of weed seeds by pulling Knapweed plants
  • RSVP for lunch and FREE day-entry into Waterton Lakes National Park
Native Plant Gardens

Orientation and first work bee, late May, then ongoing as volunteer's time permits through September.

Our two, native plant gardens located in the Waterton community are a great introduction to native plants for visitors, the local community and volunteers alike.

The gardens are maintained by volunteers, who also help with planting native transplants into them. The transplants originate from our Wildflower and Native Grasses Seed Collection volunteers.

Requirements:

  • Attend an orientation session to learn the difference between native and weed species
  • Be available throughout the summer to work in the garden
  • Have an interest in learning about the identification and care of native species

Volunteer duties:

  • Pull, cut and bag weeds. Mulch bare areas
  • Remove dead stalks
  • Identify and label species
  • Assist with other tasks as needed, such seed collection and planting transplants
Photography

Are you an outdoor enthusiast, with an interest and skills in photography? We are looking for amateur photographers capable of capturing quality images of iconic places, people enjoying the park and wildlife.

Come and attend some of the events and activities in Waterton Lakes National Park, hike your favourite trail or paddle your favourite waters as a Volunteer Photographer.

Requirements:

  • Your own camera
  • Capable of taking high-quality photographs that fulfil the details of a shot list
  • Commit to taking photos for the full length of a specified event or focusing on photography for approximately three hours while experiencing the Park and making use of a shot list

Volunteer duties:

  • Obtaining model release signatures
  • Editing, sorting and labelling your photos
  • By submitting your photos for this project you will help promote Waterton Lakes National Park and connect the Park to visitors. You will be allowing WLNP the rights to use your photos for these purposes
Salamander Byway Maintenance

March and September - half-day events
May through September - byway fence paint repair

Approaching the community of Waterton Park visitors pass through the land of the long-toed salamander and into their story. You can be a positive part of that ongoing story by helping to maintain the crossing structures first put in place in 2008 to reduce the salamander road kills during their annual spring and fall migrations to and from Linnet Lake. Long-toed and tiger salamanders, western toads and red-sided garter snakes will all benefit from your volunteered help. Options include coming out for one or both of the spring and fall maintenance days, and/or volunteering throughout summer 2016 to clear peeling paint off of the by-way fences that direct the amphibians and reptiles to the crossing structures that pass safely under the road.

Requirements:

  • Be prepared for half day or more outside, including sturdy footwear and clothing layers suitable for the very changeable weather.
  • Able to perform repetitive, light physical labour (digging, hammering, bending over)
  • Comfortable working on sloped terrain and along a roadway

Volunteer duties:

  • Clearing obstructions from the byway tunnels and their entrances.
  • Filling gaps under byway fencing or between the fencing and tunnels.
  • Pruning shrubs growing up and over the byway fencing.
  • Cleaning peeling paint from the byway fencing.
  • Picking up, bagging and removing any litter found along the system.
Shoreline cleanup

May, Upper Waterton Lake. September, Emerald Bay and Bosporus Straight.

Don’t let wind blow that litter away! Park volunteers are teaming up with Awesome Adventures to scour Waterton’s shorelines for litter at two popular lake bays as part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

Pitch in as we work to keep the park litter-free. Thanks to Awesome Adventures for kick-starting this event. They organize the underwater divers and Parks Canada organizes the shoreline volunteers.

Requirements:

  • Able to perform repetitive, light physical labour (bending over, picking up)
  • Comfortable working along the shoreline at the edge of a lake, including supervising your own children there
  • Be prepared for a half-day outside along the shoreline. Bring your rubber boots and a spare change of socks and pants, just in case.

Volunteer duties:

  • Hike along shorelines to pick up and bag litter or collect litter from the divers as they bring it out to the shoreline
  • Garbage bags and dish gloves or similar waterproof gloves provided by the park
Special Event Volunteers

Summer and fall.

Do you enjoy working with people? Do you like being where the action is? Consider volunteering for one of our special events in Waterton. Special Events include Canada Day and Ride the Redrock. Every year we look for volunteers to fill roles such as traffic control, face painters, refreshment booth hosts and other tasks. If you have a particular talent for having fun you could be our wonderful mascot, Parka.

Requirements:

  • Commit to a volunteer shift of approximately 3-5 hours in length

Volunteer duties:

  • Interact with visitors and volunteers in a friendly and helpful manner
  • Control traffic, share knowledge, serve refreshments or other miscellaneous tasks
  • Keep an eye out for improvements for the next special event
Tree planting and monitoring - Limber Pine

Monitoring, June - August. Planting, September - October.

Despite their naturally few numbers, this endangered species is an important part of the Rocky Mountain ecosystems. They are slow-growing and long-lived trees; preferring to grow on lower, windswept, open mountain slopes where sandstone outcrops through the surface or lies just below.

Their exposure and the elements give them a Bonsai look, but they have been no match for the adverse impacts of the introduced and invasive white pine blister rust, a history of fire suppression and the effects of climate change.

If you are accustomed to hiking up slopes and off-trail, you can help park staff with the restoration of Limber pine; either assisting with planting seedlings or monitoring the prior plantings. Some lower elevation sites are less demanding of the volunteer.

Requirements:

  • Bring your own lunch and outdoor equipment. Monitoring or planting tools supplied by the park
  • Be able to work up to a full 8 hours in the backcountry, including hiking to and from the site and the time spent planting or monitoring

Volunteer duties:

  • Hike to the location where planting or monitoring will take place on a maintained trail or off trail. This could include crossing a creek with low flowing water
  • Travel through the planting area carry planting or monitoring equipment. This is off-train and is often steep terrain that could be wet, slippery and/or snow covered
  • If planting, repetitive use of a small spade and/or hoe-dads to plant seedlings
  • You may also fill buckets with water and water seedlings, or help to map where seedlings are planted for subsequent monitoring
Tree planting and monitoring - Whitebark Pine

Monitoring, June - August. Planting, September - October.

We are also in a race against time to save whitebark pines throughout the Rocky Mountains. These slow-growing, long-lived trees occupy windswept rocky slopes near tree-line, high up on the mountains where forest gives way to alpine. They are in danger of completely disappearing from Waterton Lakes National Park due to a combination of stressors: the introduced and invasive white pine blister rust, a history of fire suppression and the threat of the native mountain pine beetles.

Interested volunteers can sign up earlier for training and to be on a contact list, as due to various factors, including weather, there often is only a few days’ notice for the actual planting dates.

This volunteer work, be it monitoring seedlings planted in prior years or planting new ones is for those physically fit enough to reach the heights where the whitebark pines grow and work all day in this backcountry splendor.

Requirements:

  • Bring your own lunch and outdoor equipment. Monitoring or planting tools supplied by the park
  • Be able to work a full 8 or 9 hours in the backcountry, including hiking to and from the site and the time spent planting or monitoring

Volunteer duties:

  • Hike to the location where planting or monitoring will take place on a maintained trail or off trail. Could include crossing a creek with low flowing water or in some cases being ferried to the trailhead in the Parks boat or helicopter
  • Travel through the planting area carry planting or monitoring equipment. This is off-train and is often steep terrain that could be wet, slippery and/or snow covered
  • If planting, repetitive use of a small spade and/or hoe-dads to plant seedlings
  • You may also fill buckets with water and water seedlings, or help to map where seedlings are planted for subsequent monitoring
Volunteer season kick-off

May, noon hour and early afternoon

RSVP through the volunteer form.

Come meet fellow volunteers and kick off the new volunteer seasons, Waterton style!

  • The park will provide refreshments, sweets and savory sides for lunch. BYOL (bring your own basic lunch).
  • Overview of the upcoming volunteer season and opportunities.
  • Volunteer orientation.
  • Get your volunteer registration paperwork done for the year.

For those interested, following the main kick-off event, there will be orientations for Adopt-a-Patch and Native Plant Gardens, with volunteer work sessions for each in the afternoon. Tools, knee pads (where needed) and gloves are provided by the park.

Wildflower and Native Grasses Seed Collection

Events held once or twice a month, mid-June to September.

More than half the species of flowering plants recorded in Alberta can be found in Waterton Lakes National Park, making it an unsurpassed place to see flowering plants and help in the restoration of their habitat.

Waterton and Glacier National Park in Montana form the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Staff and volunteers from the Peace Park collect native plant seeds. The seeds are then grown to seedlings at Glacier’s state-of-the-art nursery, after which they are returned to Waterton to help restore their grassland homes and fill our demonstration native plant gardens.

Requirements:

  • Bring food, water and appropriate footwear for half a day outside

Volunteer duties:

  • Travel to seed collection sites. In some cases this may be a short hike and in other instances it may involve a few hours of walking. All sites will involve some off-trail travel.
  • Learn to accurately identify plants and pull or cut and bag seeds