Become a Volunteer

There are many opportunities for you to get involved with the Reserve. Below are descriptions of the different volunteer opportunities that are available. We are also willing to work with you on an individual basis if you have a certain skill you think would be helpful to the Reserve.


Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) Volunteers

Regular Volunteer: Come in regularly each week for a 4-hour morning or afternoon shift. Assist with the daily operations of the ARK under supervision of the Animal Attendants. Duties include preparing animal feed (fish, squid, grains, vegetables, and fruits), feeding and giving medication to animals according to schedule, changing animal housings and bedding (carriers, cages, outside enclosures, sea turtle tanks, etc.), cleaning soiled housings, washing animal feed containers, washing and folding animal bedding, cleaning area under Turtle House, and assisting Animal Attendants in moving animals when necessary. Assist in the release of large sea turtles at the ARK, on the beach, or out at sea.

Animal Rescue: After receiving training, perform animal rescues- typically of turtles or birds. Pick animals up at various locations in the Mustang Island area. Assist in the rescue and moving of big animals in the field and at the ARK. Help at the ARK during construction or renovation of animal enclosures or infrastructure. Assist in the major cleaning of the big turtle tanks.

Events: Assist at festivals or events that take place on UTMSI grounds or elsewhere. Duties may include pre-event preparation, post-event takedown, taking photographs, providing transportation (in non-UT vehicles), general labor, and misc. tasks as needed.

Turtle Patrol: Conduct sea turtle surveys using the ARK's ATV during the turtle nesting season (March 1- September 15). May also assist in San Jose Island surveys.

Friends of the ARK: Support fundraising efforts for the ARK. This may include selling merchandise in exchange for donations. If interested in volunteering with FOTA, contact Lee Harrison at or (361) 332-6361.


Education Volunteers

Events: Assist staff at festivals or events. Duties may include assisting with education programs, setting up and facilitating interactive/informational booths, taking photographs, and related miscellaneous tasks as needed.

Bay Education Center: Greet visitors at the Bay Education Center (BEC) in Rockport, Texas. Sporadically help as a substitute educator for Science on a Sphere presentations.

WEC Tours: Lead public tours of the Wetlands Education Center (WEC). These tours occur on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

ARK Tours: Lead public tours of the Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK). These tours occur on Wednesday and Friday mornings.

Patton Center Docent: Work a regular 3-hour shift as a docent for the Patton Center for Marine Science Education in Port Aransas, TX. Docents greet guests, monitor the touch tanks, educate the public on aquaria exhibits, answer questions, and help the public interpret and interact with static graphics and their associated activities.

Programming: Assist education staff with educational programming for K-12 students and the general public. Programs may occur at the WEC, BEC, and/or other UTMSI administered locations.

R/V Katy: Assist education staff/naturalist with programming and safety aboard the R/V Katy. Must be 18 years or older and in good physical condition. Programs on this research vessel are typically 4 hours in duration, so volunteer must be able to endure variable weather conditions and be willing to get wet and dirty while on-board for extended periods of time.

Aquaria: Assist UTMSI staff in maintaining aquaria. Duties may include feeding animals and assisting with cleaning tanks, life support systems, and tools.

Collection: Assist the Aquarium Education Specialist with collection of fish and other animals as needed for the aquaria in the Patton Center for Marine Science Education. Volunteer must be able to endure varying weather conditions, be willing to get wet and dirty, and be physically fit enough to help transport buckets and coolers filled with water and fish. Possible collection methods include seining, trapping, netting, fishing with a rod and reel, and snorkeling.

Clerical Work: Assist with scanning and organizing documents such as permission slips and photo release forms that are collected from program participants.


Stewardship Volunteers

Invasive Species Removal: Help remove invasive species of plants from UTMSI property and assist in replanting native plant species. Help grow seedlings or cuttings of native plants. Volunteer must be in good physical condition and able to handle harsh climatic conditions such as high temperatures or strong winds.

Field Experiments: Assist researchers in field experiments. Duties may include sediment sampling, flora and fauna identification, water sampling, and monitoring transects. Volunteer must be able to handle harsh climatic conditions such as long hours in high temperatures. Duties may include transportation on boat or ATVs over potentially rough terrain or waves. Specific duties and conditions will vary based by experiment.


Lab Volunteers

Assist researchers in laboratory experiments. Duties may include data entry, data analysis, water/sediment filtration, setting up/taking down and organizing equipment, preparing media and solutions, maintenance and cleaning of glassware and equipment, resolving problems with equipment, and care of animals and various microscopic organisms.


Citizen Science Volunteers

Assist researchers by collecting data for active projects. Volunteers may be required to lift ~10lbs, walk >.5 miles, work on a dock above water, and use a hose. Specific duties and conditions will vary based on sample location.

Volunteer Forms

Volunteer Application

Annual Renewal Form

Get/Find UT EID

Code of Conduct



Volunteer Training


R/V Katy Volunteer Training Manual

Bay Education Center Volunteer Training Manual

Wetlands Education Center Volunteer Training Manual


Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Clean-Up


An educator leading a tour of the Wetlands Education Center




Working with live sea turtles is one of the many rewarding tasks at the Amos Rehabilitation Keep



        Volunteers helping to plant native species in the Wetlands Education Center