The Southeast Louisiana Refuge National Wildlife Complex — a network of eight areas of land and water in Louisiana, similarly protected within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to conserve and restore regional flora and fauna — relies on interns and volunteers to keep its systems running.
One method of volunteering, resident volunteering, gives out-of-town folks the opportunity to travel to national refuges all over the country and simultaneously support each organization’s respective ecosystem. In exchange for part-time work for three months out of the year, these volunteers are provided complimentary living quarters in fully equipped RVs onsite the refuges.
“[The benefit of] volunteering — especially three months at a time — is you get very familiar with the community, the culture, the scenery, all of the attractions. And its something that we wouldn’t be able to experience if we were just vacationing for a week or two, buzzing through a place and spending a day there. You feel like you’re a part of the community and a part of the surroundings,” says resident volunteer Caroline Balog.
Case Milligan , a film student in the Department of Film and Theatre at the University of New Orleans, speaks with Balog and fellow Southeast Louisiana Refuge resident volunteers Joe Balog and Tom Hilko about the program.