The sun is shining, bees are buzzing, and the birds are singing their come-hither spring fever tunes, even the endangered ones. It’s just another day at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and Research Refuge.

In honor of 75 years of conservation and protecting wildlife, the National Wildlife Federation is holding its annual Workday for Wildlife on April 16th at Patuxent Research Center and Refuge in Laurel, Maryland. I was lucky enough to spend a day sneaking a peek at what’s in store for volunteers this weekend.

J.N. "Ding" Darling

The origins of both NWF and Patuxent lie in the mastermind of conservation icon J.N. “Ding” Darling. On a crusade for action, Darling helped found NWF in 1936 and was elected its first president, establishing principles and strategies to protect and restore wildlife, reconnect people to nature, and confront pollution and its unforeseen consequences and environmental challenges.

Just a year earlier, as chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey (now the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service). Darling envisioned a research center to study wildlife-habitat relationships and lobbied Congress to establish a national wildlife research center.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump outside our nation’s capital, the USFWS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center on the USGS Patuxent Research Refuge is now 4,700 acres of nature oasis. Home to whooping cranes, diving ducks, screech owls, masked bobwhites, sandhill cranes and other critically endangered wildlife, scientists carefully monitor these breeding stocks to ensure future preservation in the wild.

Though the majority of the land is natural habitat, the landscape still needs active management to create the safest home sweet home for the wildlife, and there’s plenty to be done.

Work to be done

Volunteers will take part in a wide variety of essential restoration activities, such as:

  • Removing invasive species (such as wisteria, multiflora rose and others)
  • Planting native plants and flowers in wildlife habitat
  • Cleaning research pens for cranes and ducks
  • Conducting citizen science investigations for bees, frogs, and other species
  • Installing conservation trail

Want to join us and lend a hand to give wildlife a better place to live? All are welcome, and you can register here.

Here’s a sneak peak at some of the wildlife you might bump into while getting your hands dirty.

Patuxent slideshow

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