Written by Carey Goss, Refuge Specialist at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge/Photo by Carey Goss

“There is nothing stronger than a heart of a volunteer.” I learned this when I began managing the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Program in 2001. I realized that I could not manage the Visitor Services Program alone. With more than 28,000 visitors visiting the Refuge annually, it was a challenge to provide visitors a genuine welcoming and a true orientation to the Refuge and complete other duties assigned to my position.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Carey Goss and I have been working at the Refuge for 21 years. I began as a trainee in 1998 under the management series and then graduated from Humboldt State University. I was fortunate enough to be hired full time at Malheur Refuge to manage the Visitor Services Program, which included the Volunteer Program. I am now the Wildlife Refuge Specialist, but I still have the wonderful opportunity to work with volunteers.

Things have changed over the years in the Volunteer Program at the Refuge, but not the gentle presence of volunteers and how much I appreciate them. Today, I work with volunteers to help me welcome and orient visitors in the Visitor Center, provide birding expertise to visitors from beginners to skilled birders, assist visitors as docents at the historic Sod House Ranch, and accomplish various tasks with maintenance.

Last year, Refuge volunteers provided more than 4,000 hours of service and I am grateful for what they have achieved. This year already, five Refuge volunteers have helped me with the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival, staffed the Visitor Center, provided excellent birding advice to visitors, and completed various maintenance tasks.

I am excited to see the changes with the recent hire of FOMR Executive Director Janelle Wicks, the new Friend’s Nature Store and their expanded volunteer program. Together with the help of volunteers, we will make positive strides for the benefit of our visitors.