Get Involved!

Volunteering with the MWA

The Musconetcong Watershed Association is a small organization that gets a lot done, and volunteers are a huge reason for this.  Whether it’s environmental stewardship, education, or fundraising, nearly all of our programs and projects benefit from our volunteers' contributions.   

 

Below is a list of all of our volunteer opportunities with a short description for each.  If you want more information on each role—such as the level of commitment or particular duties—please click here for more information.  Otherwise, we hope you’ll consider signing up using our form at the bottom of this page.  If you have any questions about volunteering, don’t hesitate to contact Ryan Jiorle, Community Engagement Coordinator, at ryan@musconetcong.org

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Digging a few holes is actually pretty fun; digging dozens of holes—not so much.  That’s why we need volunteers to keep our tree planting days exciting and realistic.  We also like to have a few people willing to show up a little early to help set the trees out at their planting locations, followed by the full-sized group to dig the holes and plant the trees.  Just as important, though, are the dedicated few who will commit to “adopting” a restoration site.  During the growing season, it takes consistent attention to keep invasive species and other plants from taking over a site and choking out these young trees and shrubs.  If you have the initiative and dedication for such a role, you could guide our carefully chosen and planned projects on a path to success! 

Restoration Steward

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The MWA has an extensive citizen science program centered on monitoring the water quality of the Musconetcong River and its smaller tributaries.  With the relevant training being provided, you could be on the river assessing habitat condition and identifying macroinvertebrates to gauge stream health.  You’d also become familiar with the sensors and equipment we use to collect data on river flow and water chemistry.  These efforts support not only the MWA’s mission, but larger state-level scientific and policy initiatives. 

River Watcher

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A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to keep the MWA running on a day-to-day basis.  We have many communication and administrative efforts handled by volunteers, and we are always looking for help at the office.  There are regular tasks if you are looking to contribute consistently, as well as various emergent needs.

Office Assistant

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The MWA Education Trail, which runs along the river near our office in Asbury, needs volunteers to assist with regular maintenance of the walking paths.  This means keeping it wide and clear of encroaching brush, as well as cleaning up any trash.  We also schedule larger workdays as needed, when extreme weather brings down trees or damages our footbridges.  On these days, we need a lot of volunteers, as well as people with chainsaw and carpentry experience.  If you’re interested in stewarding this valuable community resource, we would love for you to help! 

Trail

Worker

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The MWA maintains a robust educational outreach program consisting on in-class visits to schools, field days, and the 5-week summer program Camp Musky.  There are many different opportunities within this area, such as leading in-class activities on water pollution and other river issues, or teaching students how to sample for and identify macroinvertebrates from the river.  If you are available for a more regular commitment in the summer, we need volunteers to support the head “camp counselor” during the days’ activities at Camp Musky.  Come be a part of our efforts to connect our youth to the Musconetcong River! 

Environmental Educator

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The MWA depends heavily on various forms of communication to carry out its mission to protect and improve the quality of the Musconetcong River Watershed.  Whether it’s writing an article for our blog or newsletter, researching the history of the area, or speaking in support of the MWA at public meetings, we need people who can provide passionate, informative communication.  You don’t need to be able to do all of these things; as long as you care about the Musky and are comfortable putting your voice out there, we can help you find your niche! 

Community Voice

MWA Volunteer Roles Explained

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Any gardener knows the discipline required to keep desired plants free of weeds and overgrowth.  At the River Resource Center, we have both a large pollinator garden as well as a rain garden across the street at our Mill building.  We need a small number of dedicated volunteers who can help our grounds steward with maintenance tasks so that our gardens stay as pretty and functional as we designed them to be! 

Gardener

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MWA hosts several special events throughout the year that help us reach new audiences and raise much needed funds toward our continued education and community efforts. Volunteers help at special events like our Native Plant Sale, Run for the River, Wine Tasting on the Musky, and Asbury Mill outreach events.  There may be a short training beforehand to provide you with the right information to serve our attendees. If you enjoy meeting new people and helping out in the community, we can find the right opportunity for you! 

Event

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If you are curious about the finer details of each volunteer opportunity, the descriptions below will provide you information on specific duties, as well as roughly how often we need help with each activity.  Because of the nature of our work, these descriptions are only estimates, but we want to give you a sense of what we hope for in our volunteers. 

 

Restoration Steward 

Commitment level: 

  • Help us for 1 – 2 big work-days (3 – 4 hours per day) planting trees; smaller, but regular duties maintaining stewardship sites (two days per month, 1 – 2 hours per day) 

  • Typical roles: 

  • Assisting with transport and set-up of plants for work-days 

  • Digging holes and planting trees/shrubs at tree plantings and rain garden installations 

  • “Adopting” a restoration site, spending 1 – 2 hours every couple of weeks (late spring – early fall) removing encroaching plants—especially invasive species 

We are looking for a person who: 

  • Can dig holes and stoop down to plant trees and shrubs 

  • Has the initiative to check on completed planting sites, both for scheduled maintenance and after extreme weather events as needed 

How we’ll prepare you: 

  • We will provide training for proper planting techniques and have a staff member or established volunteer assist you on your first maintenance trip. 

Trail Worker 

Commitment level:  

  • Help us with the big work-days 1 – 2 times per year (4 – 5 hours per day) while committing another 3 or 4 days (2 – 3 hours per day) to general maintenance 

Typical roles: 

  • Cleaning up trash that accumulates on or near the trail 

  • Repainting the blazes to keep trails well-marked 

  • Clearing away brush using hand tools and heavier tools such as a chainsaw or brush mower 

  • Planting new trees and regularly clearing invasive species and weeds 

  • Fixing and/or replacing wooden footbridges 

We are looking for a person who: 

  • Is comfortable on their feet for extended periods of time 

  • Doesn’t mind a few thorns and bugs 

  • Has experience working with chainsaws, weed-whackers, or brush mowers (not required for every volunteer) 

  • Has carpentry experience (not required for every volunteer) 

How we’ll prepare you: 

  • A staff member will always be assisting on larger workdays, and a staff member/established volunteer will accompany you on your first general maintenance trip if you wish. 

  • We will only ask you to do types of maintenance you are comfortable with (not everybody needs to push the brush mower!) 

 

Gardener 

Commitment level: 

  • Help with the couple of larger workdays (3 – 4 hours each day), while committing 1 – 2 hours every week in the spring and summer 

Typical roles: 

  • Planting new grasses and flowers around the property 

  • Weeding, mulching, pruning 

  • Notifying staff of emerging needs for our gardens 

We are looking for a person who: 

  • Is comfortable in the heat 

  • Can stoop/kneel for extended periods of time 

  • Has basic knowledge of native plants and weeds 

How we’ll prepare you: 

  • We have all the tools necessary to maintain our gardens. 

  • Remember, there will be a paid grounds steward who can provide some assistance and direction as needed. 

 

River Watcher 

Commitment level: 

  • Many levels of commitment exist, depending on the type of sampling. 

  • Physical, chemical, and biological stream assessments require a few assignments per year (~3 hours per assignment); checking sensors requires a half-hour commitment every other week; and monitoring for harmful algal blooms will be a couple times per month in the late spring and summer months (~3 hours per day). 

Typical roles: 

  • Sampling for and identifying benthic macroinvertebrates; assessing habitat condition 

  • Looking out for New Zealand mud snail and other invasive species 

  • Using, calibrating, and maintaining handheld meters to take chemical measurements 

  • Monitoring for harmful algal blooms 

We are looking for a person who: 

  • Is comfortable wading through streams 

  • Can bend over/crouch to pick up rocks and look at samples 

  • Has waders and appropriate clothing for varying weather conditions 

  • Has a form of transportation for travel to and from sites 

  • Has a smartphone (preferably) for data entry 

How we’ll prepare you: 

  • We provide training for all prospective River Watchers before they can go out and sample. 

  • You’ll never be sampling alone. 

  • All gear (except your personal clothing) is provided. 

 

Environmental Educator 

Commitment level:  

  • A couple school visits per month, each lasting a few hours; providing help once per week during the five-week summer program Camp Musky 

Typical roles: 

  • Teaching elementary- and middle-school students about pollution, stream ecology, and other relevant topics 

  • Training students to visually assess the health of a stream 

  • Training students to identify benthic macroinvertebrates 

  • Serving as an assistant for the summer program Camp Musky 

We are looking for a person who: 

  • Is comfortable working with groups of children (10 – 15 students) 

  • Can be “on” for multiple class sessions in a row 

  • Has a basic understanding of stream ecology and pollution issues in northwest New Jersey 

How we’ll prepare you: 

  • We’d train you to be familiar with the specific activities and accompany you on your first visit. 

  • Remember, you’ll always have that class’s teacher with you during in-school presentations. 

 

Event Staffer 

Commitment level: 

  • Devote a half day of service for the events you choose to volunteer for (Native Plant Sale, Run for the River, Wine Tasting on the Musky, etc.) 

Typical roles: 

  • Helping to set up and break down equipment 

  • Assisting with other duties specific to running each event 

We are looking for a person who: 

  • Is friendly and able to engage positively with people for extended periods of time 

  • Can handle being on their feet 

  • Is capable of moving tables, chairs, and other necessary equipment (not required for every volunteer) 

How we’ll prepare you: 

  • We will work to find the best specific role for your preferences and abilities. 

  • We will provide training for any event or role that requires it. 

 

Office Assistant 

Commitment level: 

  • Regularly occurring duties (once or twice per month, 2 hours per day) with occasional larger projects that require multiple days of volunteering in a short time 

Typical roles: 

  • Paperwork (printing, scanning, copying, filing) 

  • Preparing documents and envelopes for large mailings 

  • Assisting staff with organizing gear used for sampling and special events 

We are looking for a person who: 

  • Doesn’t mind sitting or standing for extending periods of time 

  • Has a strong attention to detail when it comes to organizing files and doing paperwork 

How we’ll prepare you: 

  • Staff will be available to train and assist you, as most of your work will occur in our office. 

 

Community Voice 

Commitment level: 

  • Sporadic requests to attend meetings (1 – 2 hours each) or respond to policy developments 

  • Writing pieces (250 – 400 words) on a quarterly basis, with some time also dedicated to background research 

Typical roles: 

  • Submitting public comments on important legislative issues 

  • Attending public meetings to provide comments if they are relevant to where you live 

  • Writing a blog post or newsletter article 

We are looking for a person who: 

  • Is comfortable voicing their opinions on issues important to the MWA 

  • Has a willingness to write comments or attend meetings, which may be on short notice (not necessary for every volunteer) 

  • Is comfortable writing and editing (not necessary for every volunteer) 

How we’ll prepare you: 

  • We will always contact you when we have specific requests, although you are welcome (and encouraged) to follow important developments on your own. 

  • We can provide background information and content to assist you in forming public comments. 

  • We will provide editing support for any written pieces you contribute.