Thanks for your interest in the Vermont Loon Recovery Project (VLRP). There are many different types of volunteer opportunities available from surveying a lake on a single day to helping all summer long. Where you live will likely determine which lakes would work out well. Some lakes can be surveyed from shore, whereas others require a boat. There are also non-survey opportunities from assisting with research and data analysis to outreach and newsletters.
Instructions, lake lists, and data forms for each volunteer activity are available below or they can be sent to you by the VLRP Coordinator. Please include in your correspondance: a) your volunteer interests, b) where you live, c) how far you’re willing to travel, and d) how much time you want to spend.
For all volunteers, there is a volunteer hours form that will need to be filled out to ensure we receive part of our funding from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Nongame Program. Please download this form for all of our volunteer programs and return to the VLRP Biologist at the conclusion of your chosen activity each summer. Most data forms are available online as pdf files on this page, or I can send attachments or mail them to you. There is also a list of lakes that need volunteers below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Help monitor a specific lake or lakes with known loon activity. For lakes with nesting pairs, the volunteer focuses on the territorial pair, established nest site, and chicks (if any) from mid-May through August. Most surveys are done weekly or every other week until the loons nest, and then every 2-3 weeks for the remainder of the summer. For volunteers who do not have this much time, monitoring is shared with either the VLRP biologist or another volunteer. For lakes with known loon activity only (no nesting yet), volunteers monitor the lakes 1-4 times a month (mid-May to mid-July) to help document the level of activity and to help determine if a territorial pair begins to develop.
Time commitment: usually 1-4 times per month from mid-May to late August and keeping VLRP biologist updated regularly via email, mail, or phone.
The VLRP tries to find volunteers who can take over the management of loon nesting rafts and/or loon nest warning sign buoys. We put rafts out in late April and early May and nest warning signs by mid-May. Usually volunteers who help with management activities also conduct the monitoring of the breeding pair, but this is not always necessary. The VLRP biologist would assist you the first year and whenever needed. Some heavy lifting and a boat are usually required. Contact the VLRP Coordinator to get started and check out the "lakes in need fo volunteers" list.
If the lake you want is not on the "lakes in need of volunteer" list, there might be a volunteer assigned to that lake. We like to have a team of volunteers covering lakes, so please contact the VLRP for more information.
Time commitment: half-day in late April/early May, another half-day in July or August, plus possibility of season-long monitoring.
Survey a lake (or 2 or 3) for one hour on the 3rd Saturday of July. Help with one survey on the 3rd Saturday of July in the morning. We survey over 130 lakes statewide, including nesting and loon active lakes but also ones not likely to have loons….our chance to pick up an occasional loon sighting.
Time commitment: half-day, July 16th
Survey a lake in need of more loon surveys at anytime from May through October (e.g., breeding lakes without regular volunteer monitoring, lakes not surveyed often). For people who like to get out to lakes but may not have the time to consistently observe a lake throughout the summer. These surveys are for all lakes throughout the state usually without known nesting activity. This program allows us to get more surveys done on lakes that may only get surveyed once or not at all. It also allows us to determine which lakes need more (or less) surveys in the future. On the Casual Surveys lake list, priority 2 lakes are the most important as they have had some loon activity in the past, and we're trying to assess whether a pair might be forming or not. You do not have to contact the VLRP biologist before conducting these surveys, but he might be able to better update you about lakes in greater need of surveys. You can download the casual survey lake list, data form, and volunteer hours form and start surveying lakes on the list at any time from May through October.
Time commitment: variable, from one lake survey to as many as you can.
It's great to have volunteers who can help out at the last minute whether its checking on a loon in distress (e.g., caught in fishing line, beached), helping to catch a loon in this situation, transporting a loon to VINS or vet office, or helping with some surveys when needed quickly or at the last minute (e.g., loonwatch lake not assigned, check whether loons still on nest at a certain lake).
Time commitment: variable
No forms: contact the VLRP Coordinator with your interest, location, and availability.
There are many “extra project” needs that could be undertaken including data analysis/summarizing, land conservation program development, volunteer educational material development, etc. Contact the VLRP Coordinator for more information.
The VLRP tries to find volunteers who can take over the management of loon nesting platforms and/or loon nest warning sign buoys. We put platforms out in late April and early May. We usually put out nest warning signs by mid-May depending on the nest site. You'll need a boat for these two activities. Most of this work is conducted on breeding lakes. Usually volunteers who help with management activities also conduct the season-long monitoring of the breeding pair, but this is not always necessary. The VLRP biologist would assist you for the first year to show you how. Some heavy lifting and a boat are usually required.
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