Volunteer Naturalists play a vital role in leading public tours of ICF's headquarters in southern Wisconsin. Photo by Deb Johnson, ICF volunteer.
The International Crane Foundation (ICF) works worldwide to conserve cranes and the wetland and grassland ecosystems on which they depend. The success of our international organization depends on the relationships we build and create with people around the world. Volunteers are a vital part of this solution. In exchange for their service, volunteers develop new skills, meet new friends, contribute to our collective knowledge, gain rewarding experiences, have unparalleled opportunities to work with endangered species, and the satisfaction of helping one of the world's most threatened families of birds.
The Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteers are invited to participate in special field trips, learning opportunities, behind-the-scenes events and social gatherings.
Volunteers receive a free, one year ICF membership, which includes four issues of ICF's quarterly newsletter, The ICF Bugle, and a staff discount on all gift shop purchases.
Volunteers work with leading conservation professionals and international scientists.
What is it like to volunteer with ICF?
“Volunteering at ICF has…supplemented my existing interest in, and love of, nature and its preservation. It has also provided me with wonderful opportunities to share this understanding and love with a multitude of people of various ages and from far flung parts of the world. It is a joy to be part of the ICF family.” – Communications and Education Volunteer Naturalist.
“The birds and staff at ICF really get into your blood – once you start you are “hooked”. After volunteering for many years, I am still constantly learning new things.” – Crane Conservation Volunteer.
“Volunteering for ICF turned our retirement from ordinary to extraordinary...our prairie landscaping is a result of our volunteering – to enjoy every day of our lives.” – Field Ecology Volunteers.
Communications and Education Department
For more than 30 years, ICF’s Communications and Education Volunteer Naturalists have helped to share the story of the world’s 15 crane species and ICF’s unique conservation strategies with over 25,000 annual visitors to our headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin. We achieve this goal by interpreting our live crane displays, exhibits, and restored ecosystems. Although diverse in their backgrounds, ICF’s volunteers all have a common appreciation for conservation, biodiversity, and a desire to share their knowledge and experience with others. The Volunteer Naturalist program helps increase support for ICF’s global conservation efforts and creates a more environmentally conscious, responsible public community.
Who Should Apply: Individuals who will be most successful as Volunteer Naturalists are those who enjoy working with diverse audiences, have a passion to teach and learn from others, current or retired educators, non-formal educators, students, individuals comfortable with public speaking, and YOU!
Training Requirements: Volunteer Naturalists must complete a formal training offered by ICF staff each spring or equivalent sessions as arranged by ICF staff. During these trainings you will meet other Volunteer Naturalists, share your knowledge and expertise, and learn program specifics. Scheduled training sessions include interpretative program development; crane ecology, behavior and identification; and ICF's mission, policies, and conservation work. Volunteer Naturalists are also required to attend additional mentoring sessions, through which volunteers are evaluated and observed leading interpretive tours and programs.
How do Volunteer Naturalists Help? Volunteer Naturalists are responsible for leading formal and informal interpretive tours for visitors at ICF’s global headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Our interpretive tours inform, inspire, and connect visitors to the 15 crane species of the world and ICF's global conservation efforts.
Time Commitment: Volunteer Naturalists lead interpretive tours from April 15th until October 31st. Volunteer Naturalists are required to lead a minimum of 2-4 tours each month or volunteer the equivalent time (4-8 hrs) assisting as an exhibit docent, helping with special events, or other activities.
Additional Requirements: Individuals have the willingness and ability to lead groups through ICF’s exhibits and nature trails over uneven terrain and in a variety of weather conditions. Our interpretive tours typically cover a distance of a half mile. Excellent oral English communication skills are necessary.
Field Ecology Department
Since our inception, volunteers with the Field Ecology Department have helped to sow and collect the seeds of our restored prairie, keep invasive plant species under control, count and track cranes, and assist with seasonal prescribed prairie burns.
Who Should Apply: Individuals who will be most successful as volunteers within the Field Ecology Department are those who enjoy working outdoors, have a passion to teach and learn from others, current or retired conservation professionals, youth groups, non-formal educators, traditional students, corporate groups, and YOU!
Training Requirements: Volunteers must complete a formal training offered by ICF staff each spring or equivalent sessions as arranged by ICF staff. During these trainings you will meet ICF staff members, share your knowledge and expertise, and learn program specifics. Scheduled training sessions include prairie plant species identification; fire ecology and safety management; crane ecology, behavior and identification; and ICF's mission, policies, and conservation work.
How do Field Ecology Volunteers Help? Volunteers with the Field Ecology Department assist with maintaining our exhibit landscapes, restored prairie ecosystems, and help with seasonal work at ICF’s global headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
Time Commitment: Field Ecology volunteers assist with specific projects from April 15th until October 31st. Volunteers are required to volunteer the equivalent time (4-8 hrs) each season.
Additional Requirements: Individuals have the willingness and ability to work outdoors over uneven terrain in a variety of weather conditions. Excellent oral English communication skills are necessary.
Site Management Department
Help maintain ICF's pleasant atmosphere by planting and tending flowers, picking up litter, and helping staff with a wide variety of maintenance and repair tasks. Appropriate for groups or individuals.
Crane Conservation Department
Join our aviculture staff on their daily routine of tending to our captive crane flock. Excellent chance to work closely with adult cranes. Only individuals capable of strenuous work and able to make a regular commitment will be considered.
Do you have a special skill or talent you would like to share with us? Something that doesn't fit in a category above? Come talk to us!