Back before I discovered the need for a real job, I spent a year working my tail off (for free) as the resident caretaker of Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge, three miles off the northern coast of Washington in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
My husband and I were the island's only human residents, and we worked as a volunteer team to protect the island's sensitive wildlife species from disturbance, including 70 percent of the Puget Sound's seabird population, rare raptors, and a family of northern elephant seals.
|Photo of a Glaucous-winged gull by DickDaniels [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL] / Wikimedia Commons|
Um ... I think not.
A large part of our time was spent hosing seagull poop off of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service boats and docks, and during the winter we picked up a lot of water-logged trash that washed ashore.
Even so, that year was one of the best of my life, and I didn't pocket a dime.
Volunteering can be incredibly rewarding hands-on work that is instrumental in protecting wildlife and habitat (plus, it can offer opportunities to get up close and personal with fascinating creatures).
If you have the time - and don't need a paycheck - you can find information about volunteering in my new article:
Volunteer to Help Endangered Species