Neighborhood Habitat Improvement Project (NHIP)
Are you looking for a way to help birds and pollinators? To beautify your community? To protect Lake Michigan? To learn more about the natural world? To help local scientists understand how to conserve wildlife? The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory has multiple opportunities for volunteers to join our new Neighborhood Habitat Improvement Project. The Project aims to improve Port Washington habitats for birds and pollinators through planting native plants and studying how birds and other animals respond.
Training and programming subject to Covid-19 related restrictions. If you are interested but concerned about Covid-19, please sign up, and we can work with you.
If you are interested in any of these opportunities, please sign up HERE or email us at .
Port Washington Resident Citizen Scientists
Description: If you are a Port Washington-resident interested in learning more about native plants and how they can help water quality, wildlife and lower long-term costs of yard maintenance, we would love to talk to you more. We are looking for Port residents to consider planting native plants in their yards and to host nest boxes for birds. You can plant as few or as many plants as you would like, and we provide you with the information needed for them to thrive.
Commitment: As much or as little as you would like. We ask all participants to fill out a survey to help us understand how residents like you think about native plants, but after that you can choose how much you would like to participate. Options include monitoring nests on your own property, planting native plant beds or even a single plant. It’s up to you!
Port Washington Native Plant Ambassador
Description: Do you have a native garden that you want to share? A passion for native plants or birds? We are looking for Port Washington residents to share their passion with friends and neighbors and encourage more participation in NHIP at whatever level people are comfortable (planting native plants, taking surveys, hosting nest boxes, volunteering, etc.). While you can tailor your outreach to your neighborhood, this can look like sending postcards to neighbors, inviting neighbors to see your garden, having small events at local parks, or a variety of virtual events. We will provide you with some ideas to start with, educational materials, and training.
Commitment: Three 1-hour training sessions, plus a minimum of 10 hours of engagement with residents. Placement of a yard sign about NHIP in your yard.
Garden Consultant Volunteer
Description: The Observatory is looking for knowledgeable gardeners to talk to Port Washington residents about native plants and brainstorm solutions to garden problems. You do not need to be a native plant expert, but you do need to have experience with gardening in general and an interest in learning about native plants and how they can be used effectively in a residential setting. We will provide training and information.
Commitment: Three 1-hour training sessions, plus a minimum of 10 hours of consultations with residents per year during the spring and summer.
Model Native Garden Volunteer
Description: The Observatory and the City of Port Washington are installing model native gardens in parks of Port Washington. We will need help maintaining those gardens, including watering newly established plants, mulching, weeding and reporting larger maintenance issues to city officials. All training will be provided.
Commitment: Minimum one session every two weeks. Ideally one session per week. Duration of the session depends on site conditions.
Planting Day Volunteer
Description: The Observatory and the City of Port Washington are installing model native gardens in parks of Port Washington. We will need help planting plants in those gardens. Join us for a short (2-4 hour) shift of planting. Staff will be present to direct planting and answer questions.
Commitment: 1 session of up to 4 hours.
Bird House Monitor Volunteer
Description: During the breeding season (April-July), we need help monitoring nest boxes. This involves checking boxes for evidence of nesting, number of eggs laid, number of chicks hatched and number of chicks that fledge (leave the nest). All training will be provided. If you are a resident of Port Washington, this can be done in your yard, otherwise, monitoring will be conducted in Port Washington Parks.
Commitment: One day per week for the nesting season (April-July). Two 1-hour training sessions will be provided.
Migration Monitor Volunteer
Description: The Observatory is looking for birdwatchers to help with migration monitoring in Port Washington. Volunteers will follow an established route and record what birds they see. We will provide some training, but volunteers should have experience identifying birds.
Commitment: One day per week during migration seasons (Mar-May, Sep-Nov).
Invasive Species Removal Day Volunteer
Description: Invasive barberry, honeysuckle, buckthorn, garlic mustard and more are choking out native plants in city parks. We need your help to give native plants a fighting chance! Join us for a session of removing these invasives in the parks of Port. We will provide all training.
Commitment: 1 session of up to 4 hours (flexible).
Trash Pick Up Day Volunteer
Description: Trash pollutes our streams and is ingested by birds, fish and other wildlife. Join us to help keep Lake Michigan beautiful by picking up trash in stream corridors and along the lakeshore. We will provide gloves and trash/recycle bags for collection.
Commitment: 1 session of up to 4 hours (flexible).
Description: The Neighborhood Habitat Improvement Project uses nest boxes to learn more about bird nesting success. We need help cutting wood and assembling nest boxes. We can provide all materials and instructions at a central location in Port Washington, and you would need to have tools (saws, screw drivers, hammers, etc.). Next box assembly is a great activity for scout and student groups too!
Commitment: As little or as much as you would like until materials run out.
Other Volunteer Opportunities
- Raptor Watch observers - Become part of a rotating team of observers, tallying raptors at our watch platform at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, during the fall migration in September, October, and November. If you are a skilled observer already, you only need a datasheet and to choose a time and dates when you are available. If you are interested but need experience and training, please contact us to begin - we will provide training and arrange a schedule with you.
- Bat surveys – Learn how to use the ANABAT acoustic monitoring technology, to do nocturnal walking surveys at a number of locations. Please contact us to arrange training and a schedule.
- Point count surveys - The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory has conducted a series of avian point count surveys since late 2009. We want to expand those surveys, and would appreciate some volunteer assistance. Similar to the new point counts done for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II (4,000 point counts were conducted across WI this summer - in addition to regular atlasing), we intend this to be a rigorous program of monitoring, and we ask volunteers to be certified via the Wisconsin Birder's Certification process: http://www.birdercertification.org/ If you are interested and would like more information, please contact us at the address give above. These surveys will take place during both fall and spring migration seasons.