Learn new skills. Build community. Support conservation and education.
Coastal Rivers began as an all-volunteer organization, and it still depends on volunteers to accomplish its mission. Volunteering in all aspects of Coastal Rivers programming connects members with our work, offers new training and skills, and strengthens community, while building capacity for conservation.
If you are interested in learning more about any of the following opportunities please contact us. From trail construction to events to counting horseshoe crabs, the options are many and are certain to connect members with staff and one another.
Where to start
Several opportunities are listed below, and even more are listed on our Volunteer Interest form (link below).
If you’d like to get involved as a volunteer, please fill out the form and return it to us. We look forward to hearing from you!
Oh, the many ways to be involved!
Click on any link to learn more.
- Community Outreach Volunteer
- Courtesy Boat Inspector
- Front Office Volunteer
- Horseshoe Crab Counter
- Ice Rink Maintenance Volunteer
- Midden Minder
- Mr. or Ms. Fix-it
- Preserve Steward/Conservation Easement Monitor
- Trail Tamers℠
- Warming Shack Volunteer
- Water Quality Monitor
Share information about Coastal Rivers and our lands and waters at community events
In an effort to have an increased Coastal Rivers presence at local events like Olde Bristol Days, Oyster Fest, PumpkinFest and the weekly Farmers Market, we are recruiting Community Outreach volunteers. These friendly and outgoing folks will set up a display about Coastal Rivers at selected local events, educate the public about the mission and projects of the Coastal Rivers, describe what Coastal Rivers provides for the community, and recruit new members. Community Outreach volunteers may also offer activities, games, ornatural history interpretation with artifacts (like skulls or shells) to draw in the public and help them understand how education about nature connects people to the resources of the region.
Volunteers need to be people who can comfortably engage strangers in conversation about Coastal Rivers at public events. We will provide training about Coastal Rivers’ mission and organization, current projects and land stewardship, the watershed, and natural history interpretation. We will also provide membership recruitment information. We will need volunteers who are able to work at an event for two or three hour shifts (which generally requires standing outside for the duration).
Feel free to share information about this volunteer position with anyone you think might be interested in this opportunity (even if they are not currently a member or a volunteer).
Join the frontline defense against the spread of invasive aquatic plants in our lakes and ponds
Volunteers fill 2-hour shifts at the Pemaquid Pond boat launch in Nobleboro and at the Biscay Beach boat launch in Damariscotta on weekends during July and August. CBI volunteers check incoming and outgoing boats for plant fragments and educate boaters about the threats posed by invasive aquatic plants.
Become an ambassador for Coastal Rivers
On a weekly basis or as a substitute, welcome visitors to the Denny Center and introduce them to Coastal Rivers.
Answer the phone and provide information, connect callers with Coastal Rivers staff. Help visitors plan walks or participate in organized Coastal Rivers activities. Be at the center of day-to-day Coastal Rivers organization and a critical link to the public we serve. Take part in special Coastal Rivers training and site visits to prepare for this volunteer role. Commit to no more than one three- hour shift per week, 9:00 to 12:00 or 1:00 to 4:00, or be a substitute as needed.
Discover the habits of this ancient creature as you observe them on the estuary
Each spring, from the end of April through mid-June, volunteers spend an hour or so during high tide counting the crabs they see along the rocky shore. This is done on a daily basis and requires one volunteer to do the spotting and counting, while a second volunteer records the information. The salinity and temperature of the water are measured as well. This information is vital inasmuch as the crabs cannot survive if the salinity becomes too low.
The count information is recorded in a database and will be used to determine population statistics over time. Information such as this can be vital in determining the health of the overall environment, particularly in Great Salt Bay.
Volunteers sign up for shifts using an online scheduling tool, and may commit to one shift or multiple days of counting. Training generally takes place in mid-April.
Take part in a work team to keep the ice smooth at Coastal Rivers’ community rink
Sorry, there’s no Zamboni, but we do have a neat manual resurfacing tool, a snowblower and plenty of shovels. Join a team and help keep the ice available to the public free of charge on this well-used and well-loved community resource.
Help monitor changes to a unique cultural and historical resource
The first coastal residents were the indigenous hunters and gatherers who relied on the natural resources of the region’s forests, marshes, and coastline. Many cultural artifacts of these people are preserved in the region’s shell middens – accumulations of shells, bones, and artifacts – and these middens are critical to understanding the history of the people who lived here before us.
Unfortunately, shell middens are disappearing as a result of a number of factors. As sea levels rise, the water reaches higher and higher, gradually washing away coastal bluffs and middens. Cycles of freezing and thawing in the colder months break apart the midden surfaces. Collectors who dig into the middens looking for artifacts contribute to erosion, as do visitors who walk on the middens.
The first step in protecting this cultural and historical resource is to document how changes are occurring over time. That is the goal of Maine Midden Minders, a new initiative working with a network of individuals and conservation groups, including Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust, to develop a database of erosion conditions at middens around the state.
Volunteer Midden Minders are needed to make regular visits to one or more of Coastal Rivers’ many middens to take measurements and record changes through observations and photographs. Volunteers will also document storm impacts, which will help researchers and resource managers understand threats to the middens and plan for data rescue and conservation. Volunteers will need to commit to visiting their midden or middens at least twice a month during the warmer months.
Based at the University of Maine and funded by Maine Sea Grant, Midden Minders is managed by geoarchaeologist Dr. Alice Kelly, who initiated the program. Kelly is an instructor at the University of Maine School of Earth and Climate Sciences and a Research Associate Professor with the Climate Change Institute. Coastal Rivers has been a local leader in establishing this effort.
Review those episodes of This Old House and put your skills to work
Even if well-maintained, old farmhouses and barns need help and TLC along the way. From repairing cabinets or window sashes to installing built-ins for education storage, if you have some carpentry chops you’d be willing to share, we know several old buildings and thousands of community members and kids who will appreciate your involvement.
Visit and report on Coastal Rivers conservation properties
A critical part of our land stewardship efforts are folks that volunteer as Preserve Stewards and Conservation Easement Monitors. Preserve Stewards monitor Coastal Rivers preserves, perform light maintenance, and work with the Stewardship Committee to call in the Trail Tamers for bigger projects.
Conservation easements are restrictions that landowners voluntarily place on their land. Part of Coastal Rivers’ responsibility as holder of these easements is annual monitoring. Conservation Easement Monitors visit easements once every year to walk the property, check for compliance with the terms of the easement, and complete a brief report.
“As trail stewards slowly dropped off and left a morning of trail work, they filed out like a basketball team, slapping hands as if it were the end of a game. With a nickname like Trail Tamers, this group could have been a hoops team. With the enthusiasm they brought to the task, their work unfolded like a winning game.” Deirdre Fleming, Portland Press Herald
Take part in trail work parties once a year, monthly or more
Trail Tamers℠ monthly work parties get together to accomplish a specific stewardship project like building a bridge or clearing a section of trail. They’re scheduled for the third Thursday of each month from March to November plus some Saturdays to be determined.
As the inevitable other work projects arise we’ll also schedule special work events. Signing up will put you on the e-mail notice list for notifications, you’re welcome to join us for one or all of the events. Kids under 18 with adult supervision are also most welcome at all Trail Tamers℠ events.
Create a warm retreat for skaters on cold weekend days
We are currently in need of volunteers for the Warming Shack. Plans are to open the Warming Shack from Noon to 5:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting, to offer a warm place for the skaters as well as to sell coffee and hot chocolate. We’ll need two people for each day to do a 2 ½ hour shift.
Gather key data about the health of the rivers, lakes and ponds
“A free boat ride on the Damariscotta? Watching a beautiful sunset over the river? It’s a ‘no brainer.’ It’s lots of fun and helps a good cause.” Bob Barkalow, Water Quality Monitor
The Damariscotta River Estuary and the chain of lakes and ponds that make up the Pemaquid River system are critical components of this area’s environment and economy. In order to better understand and act to protect our waters, Coastal Rivers has been involved with a variety of water quality monitoring projects for more than two decades.
There are two monitoring programs:
Estuary water quality monitoring
Water samples are taken from seven locations beginning at the Darling Center and ending at the Damariscotta town float. In addition to a boat operator, two volunteers perform the tasks of lowering the equipment into the water, taking measurements, and noting them on a data collection form.
The monitoring is done once a month, during high tide, from the first week of May through the middle of October. Coastal Rivers provides all technical training except boat captaining. Volunteers should expect that each monitoring session will take approximately two hours and the schedule will vary depending on tides.
Swim beach water quality monitoring
To help protect public health, Coastal Rivers monitors the water at the three primary swim beaches in the area – Biscay Pond, Bristol Mills, and Pemaquid Beach – for pathogenic contamination. Coastal Rivers does this beachwater monitoring as a service to the towns that manage the beaches (the Town of Bristol owns Pemaquid Beach and the Bristol Mills swimming hole; the Town of Damariscotta owns Biscay Beach).