Delaware

Volunteer

Six people pose together during a stream cleanup event. They are holding large black plastic trash bags and carrying long orange grabbers.
Delaware Volunteers Volunteers clean up trash in the First State National Historical Park in Delaware. © The Nature Conservancy/John Hinkson

Find an Event Near You

Thanks for your interest in dedicating your time to conserving Delaware nature!

Volunteering in Delaware

There is more than one way to volunteer for The Nature Conservancy in Delaware! In addition to participating in stream cleanups and events on our preserves in southern Delaware, our volunteers perform internet research, help at events, educate members and complete administrative tasks in the office.

We are seeking volunteers to help with:

  • Preserve Monitors: Assist with monitoring TNC’s Edward H. McCabe Preserve on a regular basis (approximately 4-6 visits per year) to assess the condition and needs of the preserve and keep us informed of any issues. Preserve monitors are also asked to help remove smaller branches from trails and pick up litter. Volunteers are also needed at the McCabe Preserve’s 39-acre reforestation site to help stake up trees and cut back encroaching vegetation. Additional guidance and instructions will be provided upon inquiry.
  • Stream Clean-ups: Hosted every spring and fall in the Beaver Valley unit of First State National Historical Park, these recurring cleanups are necessary due to upstream trash entering the park via Rocky Run. This opportunity is great for kids and people of all ages, individuals and groups of all sizes.
  • Volunteer Photography/Videography: Take pictures and/or video at TNC events or on our preserves for use in TNC’s publications, website and social media.
  • Social Media: Actively share information about TNC’s work in Delaware on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • Dogfish Dash: Since 2007, TNC has been the recipient of funds raised through the Dogfish Dash, an annual running race hosted by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware. Volunteers are needed to help on the day of the race, traditionally held the last Sunday of September, as well as packet pickup events in the days before the race. Please note: The 2020 Dogfish Dash was cancelled for health and safety reasons due to Covid-19. We look forward to seeing you in 2021!
  • Stream Stewards: If you’re passionate about watershed protection and willing to commit time each month to volunteer, then consider the Stream Stewards project. You don’t need a scientific background, just a willingness to learn about data collection methods and stream health.

Contact devolunteer@tnc.org for more information about current opportunities or fill out the interest form below to recieve regular updates.

Guide to iNaturalist

Join a community of citizen scientists using our iNaturalist fact sheet.

Become A Citizen Scientist

We are creating a citizen science database of all kinds of life—from lichens to ants, mushrooms to plants, birds to mammals and everything in between for our preserves in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

TNC's roots began with local citizens and scientists concerned about special places and species. That legacy continues today. Across our lands, we are utilizing iNaturalist—a digital platform that gives users an opportunity to share and discuss their findings.

Our 14 preserve projects in iNaturalist currently have 2,709 observations of 1,219 species made by 47 observers. Of the 14 preserve projects, nine have observations recorded; help us increase that number and our understanding of the species—good and bad, native as well as invasive—that can be found on TNC lands across the state. This information can also help guide and inform our conservation staff's management and monitoring decisions.

Clyde Mellin Volunteer Clyde Mellin at Delaware's Middleford North Preserve. Over more than 20 years of volunteering, Clyde has built and installed bluebird boxes throughout the preserve. © courtesy Clyde Mellin

More Than 20 Years of Volunteer Service

Volunteer Spotlight: Clyde Mellin

The Nature Conservancy is honored to present Clyde Mellin with the 2020 Delaware Volunteer Spotlight Award. We sincerely appreciate all that Clyde has done to support TNC's efforts in southern Delaware over the last 20+ years. We continue to be inspired by people like Clyde, who care so much about protecting our lands and waters for the benefit...

The Nature Conservancy is honored to present Clyde Mellin with the 2020 Delaware Volunteer Spotlight Award. We sincerely appreciate all that Clyde has done to support TNC's efforts in southern Delaware over the last 20+ years. We continue to be inspired by people like Clyde, who care so much about protecting our lands and waters for the benefit of people and nature.

"Clyde has kept a watchful eye on Middleford North Preserve for more than 20 years," said Land Steward Natasha Whetzel. "He is an all-star volunteer. We can’t thank him enough."

A lifelong resident of western Sussex County, Clyde Mellin grew up near the headwaters of the Nanticoke River where he spent countless days exploring the nearby swamps and the wooded hillsides beyond the sandy riverbanks.

“My interest in conservation started very early, having been brought up in a family that was close to wildlife and the outdoors,” said Clyde. “Lots of hunting, fishing and learning to appreciate nature and its vulnerabilities. This enabled and encouraged me to study the river's hydrology and its environmental impacts throughout my entire life."

As a neighbor of TNC’s Middleford North Preserve, Clyde has helped keep a watchful eye on the property for more than 20 years. Land Steward Natasha Whetzel noted that Clyde’s knowledge of the natural history of the area has been an invaluable resource, in addition to countless hours he has volunteered performing a wide variety of tasks, from planting trees to helping with construction projects.

“He maintains signage, mows trails, builds and installs bluebird boxes, and is also working on bat boxes to install,” Natasha reported. “A few years ago, he worked with 4H students to build and install 10 bluebird boxes. We’re so thankful to have him as a volunteer.”

Clyde also has the rare distinction of being one of the lucky few people who has positively identified the globally-rare Hessel’s hairstreak butterfly, a favorite species of his, at the Middleford North Preserve. The larvae of this small, green, black and white butterfly are totally dependent on the Atlantic white cedar (Clyde’s favorite tree species) as its food source.

Once widespread across the Delmarva and coastal areas, the Atlantic white cedar tree is now uncommon, due to over-harvesting by European settlers who used the prized wood to construct homes and boats. Luckily, pockets of Atlantic white cedar forests remain, including at our Middleford North Preserve. The Hessel’s hairstreaks spend nearly their whole life among the upper branches of the cedars, so sightings of them are a rare and treasured.

Clyde has many reasons for volunteering for TNC, and he remains motivated by reflecting on the positive long-term impact that he, and other volunteers, have had on the land and wildlife. Those volunteer efforts include thousands of trees planted across Sussex County—from Milford Neck to Middleford North. Many oak trees at Middleford North were hand planted as acorns by Clyde and his brother. He also played a big role in the Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Program activities at the Edward H. McCabe Preserve.

“From protecting sensitive lands to TNC’s reforestation programs, it makes me feel very good to be a small link in such a successful chain,” Clyde observed. “I would highly recommend volunteering a day to nature. It has certainly inspired me.”

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View looking up into the crown of a tall stand of Atlantic white cedar trees. The short branches spread out against a blue sky.
Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) Atlantic white cedar is the sole food source for Hessel's hairstreak during its caterpillar stage. It's also volunteer Clyde Mellin's favorite tree. © TNC
A butterfly sips nectar from white flowers. Its pale green and brown wings are flecked with white half moon designs.
Hessel's Hairstreak Butterfly Clyde Mellin is one of the few people to have positively identified the globally-rare Hessel’s hairstreak butterfly at Middleford North Preserve—a favorite species of his. © Garry Kessler
Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) Atlantic white cedar is the sole food source for Hessel's hairstreak during its caterpillar stage. It's also volunteer Clyde Mellin's favorite tree. © TNC
Hessel's Hairstreak Butterfly Clyde Mellin is one of the few people to have positively identified the globally-rare Hessel’s hairstreak butterfly at Middleford North Preserve—a favorite species of his. © Garry Kessler

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Gain experience, skills and a sense of accomplishment by volunteering with The Nature Conservancy in Delaware—and subscribe to Nature News, our monthly e-newsletter. Get the latest news and updates about our conservation efforts locally and around the world, delivered straight to your inbox.