-- Photo by Viliam Glazduri (InstagramFlickr500 pxContributor to Wild. Here. --

Happy Earth Day 2017!!

Want to make a difference in your city?  Enjoy being outdoors or contributing to a nature-focused initiative?  Consider volunteering some time with one of the organizations below.  It doesn't even have to be a weekly or monthly commitment.  While some are looking for volunteers who can help out regularly, many have events and opportunities where you can join just for one specific day or you can sign up to their email list and get notified of upcoming events.  You can choose the volunteer opportunities you'd like to participate in!

Ottawa West:

Canadian Wildlife Federation - Ottawa is lucky to have the CWF in its own backyard (in Kanata) where an amazing Canadian Native Plant Garden is located.  If you are into gardening, they could always use a volunteer. Call the local office number and ask them about their wildlife friendly garden beds.

Constance Creek Wildlife Refuge (Vehicle needed.) - This wildlife refuge in the west end, near Dunrobin takes in wildlife and cares for farm animals.  Email them for details on volunteer needs.

Innes Point Bird Observatory (Vehicle needed.) - If you like to get up early and you'd love the opportunity to see birds up close this might be the volunteer dream job for you.  Seeing the sunrise does have its bonuses!

Nature Canada - Ottawa is also one of the locations for Nature Canada's "Nature Hoods" namely our local Important Bird Area - Lac DeschĂȘnes in the west end of the city. They host the annual Bird Fair and hold local bioblitzes.  Send them an email to see how you can help!

Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre - This organization in Kanata, does mainly education and advocacy but does also help out citizens groups through their Living with Beavers program.  Email them to see if there is a project you can help out with!

South March Highlands (Vehicle needed.) - If you love these woods and would love to help advocate for them - contact this group.  They've also been thinking about offering walks, so get in touch if you can help organize.

Wild Bird Care Centre (Vehicle needed.) - Volunteers help wash dishes, clean rooms and cages and other general duties.  You must be able to commit to four hours a week for this one but it's worth it to be up close to the wildlife.

-- Innis Point Bird Observatory - Daily Migration Tallies --

Ottawa Central:

Fletcher Wildlife Gardens - If you like getting your hands dirty this might be the activity for you.  Volunteers help in the Backyard Garden, Butterfly Meadow, Old Woods and do other tasks.  Bonus if you can help them get ready for their annual plant sale!

Friends of the Farm - This group is so vital to the Ornamental Gardens and Arboretum - holding various nature walks and events, fundraising and doing gardening work (my favourites are the Bloom Time team and the Shelter Belt team!)

Tree Fest Ottawa - This initiative to celebrate urban trees was founded in 2015 and is entering it's third year of programming.  Volunteers can email the organization to help with the outdoor event in the fall.

Safe Wings Ottawa - helps rescue migrating birds after window strikes and also does education and research.  If you want to be one of the volunteers on "Dawn Patrol" fill out their online application.

-- Trail Clearing at Petrie Island --

Ottawa East:

Friends of Petrie Island - Visiting this urban gem is a joy in itself and by volunteering with them, you will get to immerse yourself in this incredible spot weekly and will have the chance to see turtles, frogs, beavers, muskrats, deer, owls and various other birds! What's not to love about that?

Ottawa South:

Ottawa Pinhey Sand Dune with Biodiversity Convervancy - Here is a unique opportunity to do some manual reclamation work on a rare ecosystem in Ottawa.  Volunteers can sign-up and then help out as needed two or three times a year.

Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (Vehicle needed.) - This sanctuary is another organization that takes in injured wildlife.  They are located in North Gower and to help out as an Animal Care Assistant you must be able to volunteer for four hours weekly.  Other volunteer positions include: nest box builders, drivers and foster caregivers.  More details on their website.

-- Frog identification --

Gatineau + Outside the City: 

Friends of Gatineau Park (Vehicle needed.) - With a car you could be zipping up to Gatineau Park and helping out with events such as their popular Dusk Series or Adopt-A-Trail program.  Their Bioblitz this year will be June 10 - 11, 2017.

Ottawa-Valley Canadian Park and Wilderness Society - This organization also does work in Gatineau Park and holds monthly hikes, some of which are in town.  If you have some outdoor skills or wish to help organize the walks - you may be able to help out!

-- Cleaning Up The Capital - Petrie Island + Ecology Ottawa --

City Wide:

City of Ottawa - Right here in the city, there are many opportunities to help out through the Cleaning The Capital campaign (every spring) or you can organize your own group to Adopt-A-Park!

Ecology Ottawa - While much of their work is through education and campaigning, there are opportunities to do tree planting and clean-ups in the city.  Or possibly you may want to be the voice for our urban trees and help with a door-to-door campaign?

Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital - This is a crucial local group that helps advocate for the greenspaces around the city.  There is no outdoor volunteering but any support for their work will ensure that all Ottawa citizens get to enjoy the greenspace more!

National Capital Commission - There are both some fun and tough outdoor jobs here: you can tackle some invasive species at Mud Lake, do some gardening at Maplelawn or help out on Sunday Bikedays if you are close to one of the parkways.

The Poets' Pathway - If poetry, verse or other prose moves you and the idea of an outdoor poetry reading thrills you, then this group is for you!  Consider a membership or contact them to see how you can help.

Ottawa Bird Count - Curious about the birds in your neighbourhood?  Want to know more & help out in some way?  Then check out this organization!  Don't worry if you don't know all your urban bird songs - they hold a six-week course every spring so you can learn!  They also send out their volunteers with recorders (if needed) so you can be sure about what you are reporting.  

Ottawa Riverkeeper - Do you like being on the water and/or want to do something to help with water quality?  Then check this group out that does riverbank clean-ups including ones organized through the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (WWF Canada) and water monitoring for the Ottawa-Outaouais River.

Ottawa Stewardship Council - In the past they were building bat boxes, monitoring chimney swifts and even working on a turtle study, now they are working on restoration projects - doing bioblitzes and planting trees.  If that sounds like fun, this is a great group to volunteer with!

Ottawa Swift Watch - This fun volunteer activity will having you looking upward in the evenings to see if you can find local swift roosts.  This is organized through Bird Studies Canada.

Rideau Valley Conservation Authority - The RVCA looks after the entire Rideau watershed including urban streams.  Help them protect these critical waterways through streambank restoration including planting trees and through their City Stream Watch program.  You get to put on hip waders for this one!

The Nature Conservancy of Canada and Ontario Nature are two other nature organizations that sometimes have volunteer activities in and around the city.  

-- Saturday Morning Ottawa Bird Count Volunteer Class --

Do you know of any other outdoor nature volunteer opportunities in Ottawa 
- especially in the East or South?  

Please share!


  1. Ottawa food bank's farm needs help with weedimg and harvesting