JOIN OUR TEAM - VOLUNTEER FOR THE FIELD SEASON!
Field Volunteers Needed, Beginning November 15th Every Year
Are you ready to stand on the front lines and defend the buffalo? Become a vital part of the select group of Buffalo Defenders! With over 6,000 volunteers from across the United States and around the world, we have actively contributed to the protection of the last wild herds of buffalo.
We welcome volunteers year-round, but our field activities are most active from November through May, with a critical need for support in February, March, and April.
During our Field Season (November through June), we conduct field patrols to monitor the buffalo migration corridors, collect essential data, while publicizing and raising awareness about the threats to this remarkable population.
During our Summer Season (June through August), our focus shifts to public outreach and educational activities through tabling within Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding area.
What is the Buffalo Field Campaign?
Buffalo Field Campaign is a unique organization, entirely dedicated to protecting bison in the Yellowstone Ecosystem, and the only full-time group living and working in the field to protect bison. Our daily Field Patrols in Montana and Yellowstone National Park during the Field Season work tirelessly to safeguard buffalo in their native habitat and document threats to our National Mammal.
We proudly acknowledge our Indigenous foundation and leadership, actively supporting tribal treaty law and rights reserved by treaty, especially concerning the buffalo. We aim to amplify Indigenous voices as a core tenet of our organization’s philosophy. Indigenous leadership is essential to ecological restoration and the improvement of biodiversity.
As a volunteer, you will receive comprehensive training, necessary equipment, and guidance from experienced staff to engage in regular field patrols. Your mission will involve tracking, observing, and documenting bison behavior and movements, which we enter into an online database for further analysis.
YOU MUST CONTACT US BEFORE YOU MAKE YOUR PLANS TO VOLUNTEER
During your stay, you will live with other volunteers and interns in a communal setting at BFC's Main Cabin, which also serves as our operations hub for meals, gear, and nightly meetings. You will use your personal expertise, common sense, education, and training to help these magnificent bison.
As a Winter Field Season Volunteer, your responsibilities will include, but may not be limited to:
- Observe and document bison data, movement, and behavior.
- Utilize and maintain observation equipment/
- Learn and effectively communicate BFC's positions to the public.
- Document Federal and State actions impacting bison and other wildlife.
Contribute to maintaining a clean and safe living environment.
Assist with tasks such as chopping firewood and snow maintenance.
Participate in communal meal preparation and dishwashing.
Engage in cleaning common areas
- Answer phone calls and engage with the public.
- Contribute to data entry for the BFC Wildlife Database and public communication.
- Miscellaneous office duties.
- Assist in repairing winter equipment and clothing.
- Contribute to the maintenance of vehicles and infrastructure.
- Support the organization of education booths, information tables, fundraisers, and similar events.
- Share your unique skills, ideas, and projects!
Volunteers should be comfortable with circumstances including but not limited to extended wilderness outings, wildlife interactions, cold weather, and communal living. We encourage physical fitness, but we are accommodating to physical disabilities and other conditions.
Don't be deterred by the cold! We provide all necessary gear to keep you warm in the field, and our cozy log cabin is heated by wood stoves. You'll also have access to world-renowned winter recreation opportunities nearby, such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing, snowmobiling, hot springs, and more! We patrol daily, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun too!
Apply now and become a part of our dedicated team working to protect the buffalo. If you are interested, please fill out our Volunteer Application form.
Mailing Address: PO Box 957, West Yellowstone, Montana 59758
Please click the links below to complete our volunteer documents online:
Or print our volunteer documents and either:
Have any questions about volunteering? Please contact us:
- Address: PO Box 957, West Yellowstone, Montana 59758
- Phone: 406-646-0070
Living Conditions and Support for Volunteers and Interns
Our headquarters are situated at an elevation of 6,600 feet above sea level, where you will experience challenging winter conditions, including heavy snow, wind, and sub-zero temperatures. View from camp overlooks that beautiful Hebgen Lake and Henrys Lake Mountains, while our cabins back up to the expansive Gallatin National Forest.
All volunteers and interns will receive housing, meals, internet, and training. Accommodations are communal, with three rooms of beds available, some of which may be mixed-gender, and many of the bunks are only accessible by ladder. Wood stoves provide heating, and there are indoor bathrooms, hot showers, and laundry facilities. While privacy is limited, we respect quiet hours.
Our Volunteer Coordinator will help you plan your trip to get here, and help you settle in once you have arrived. Volunteers and Interns will receive and issue orientation presentation, field training, and guidance throughout their time here.
Food will be provided, and meals will be prepared cooperatively. We will work with any dietary restrictions or allergies, such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, wheat-free, or omnivore. Our Kitchen Coordinator organizes and often prepares the meals, with volunteers and staff assisting when required. A little bonus is our specialty coffee, “Roam Free Roast,” provided by Coffalo, LLC.
Cell phone reception is extremely limited at our base camp, but we provide Wi-Fi and landline telephones that you can use. Strong cell phone reception can be found in West Yellowstone, just a short drive from base camp.
Buffalo Field Campaign is committed to nonviolent principles, we do not support or condone violence in any way. In regards to this, all volunteers and interns must sign several agreements regarding conduct upon arrival
- Release and Assumption of Risk Statement and Visitor Agreement Form
- Volunteer Agreement Form
- Behavioral Policies Agreement Form
- Field Conduct Policy Agreement Form
- Personal Information and Emergency Contact Form
Alcohol and Drug Use Policy:
Please refer to our Volunteer Agreement and Behavioral Policy Agreement guidelines on legal and responsible alcohol and drug use. Alcohol is prohibited in the Main Cabin, and individuals under the influence of alcohol are also not permitted. Marijuana use is legal in the State of Montana.
Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion:
We actively practice the principles of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) at all times, ensuring the active participation, inclusion, and understanding of all communities.
Buffalo Field Campaign has a No New Dog Policy:
DO NOT BRING YOUR PETS without prior approval. Contact us if you have a service animal and we will make arrangements for you. This is because of past conflicts and out of respect for the wildlife near us. We love dogs and cats, we have no personal problems with them, but we have no choice. This place is our only home, and we can not afford to lose it. If you come here with your pet, you will leave.
It is important to note that cotton clothing is not preferable nor permitted as it can pose risks in cold, wet conditions. There is a phrase about this: COTTON KILLS! Please bring warm synthetic or wool socks and undergarments. Cotton is suitable for indoor wear, but when it gets wet, it loses insulation properties and can lead to hypothermia. We encourage volunteers to bring their own gear, but we also provide proper winter gear for Field Patrols and personal recreation, including cross-country skis, ski boots, and snowshoes.
Beginning Winter Gear List: (NO COTTON IS IDEAL)
- Long underwear, tights, or similar
- Bring enough to layer, and preferably designed for extreme cold (ski socks),
- Tight fitting, maybe exercise shirts or similar, preferably long-sleeve
- Sweatpants, joggers, exercise pants, etc. (Denim is cotton!)
- Pants with liners or insulation
- Thermals, flannels, pullover jackets, sweaters, crewnecks, hoodies, etc
- It must be waterproof!
- Preferably with liner and designed for extreme cold (snowboots)
- Warm hats such as beanies, knit hats, etc
- Balaclava, scarf, ear muffs, or other face and head coverings
- Very important! The air can reach below -20F on patrols and can damage your lungs if you’re not careful
- Liner gloves or medium gloves
- Waterproof gloves or mitts (ski/snowboarding gloves are preferable)
- Winter coat/jacket
- Must be waterproof and insulated with material such as down, fleece, or synthetic
- Waterproof pants
- Ski/snow pants are preferable, but wool pants work well too
- Headlamp and Flashlight
- Polarized sunglasses (it gets bright with the reflection of the snow)
- First Aid Kit
- Lounge clothes
- Pajamas, indoor shoes like slippers, and a swimsuit (there are hot springs in the area!)
- Personal items, toiletries, etc
- Lotion and lip balm are recommended; the air is dry here
- Hand and toe warmers can be useful
- Sleeping Bag or Bedding (if you want to bring your own, we have bedding here)
- Personal entertainment
- We recommend bringing books, games, a computer, or other hobbies to pass the time.
- We have plenty of board games and books here to choose from!
If you cannot bring all of these things, please don't let that stop you from coming here to protect buffalo. We have plent of gear available for you to borrow during your stay.
Day in The Life
As a volunteer or intern, your daily routine will be both exciting and impactful. You will be expected to join approximately five Field Patrols each week, adapting to various factors such as buffalo activity, volunteer availability, and government actions. These patrols are fully equipped with observation, communication, and emergency equipment to ensure the safety of both humans and buffalo. Our goal is to watch over the bison, and expose the true nature of the management plan’s practices.
Your day begins with the sunrise, as morning patrols set out after enjoying breakfast. Your mission is to monitor the buffalo until midday, keeping a vigilant eye on their behavior and well-being. Lunch often awaits the morning crew upon return.
Following the morning patrol, the afternoon crew meets the active patrol in the field, ensuring continuous monitoring until nightfall. After a day of dedicated work, a hot, hearty dinner awaits you back at base camp.
Evenings are a time for camaraderie and reflection. As everyone gathers at camp, you share a meal, fostering connections with fellow volunteers and interns. These evenings also include our nightly meetings to discuss the day's events and plan for the following day. During the spring migration, night patrols may be required to provide around-the-clock protection for the buffalo. This additional effort ensures that the buffalo are safe during this critical period.
Supporting the Field Work:
While patrol teams are in the field, there's always work to be done at base camp. Volunteers are essential in tasks such as cleanup, cooking, radio duty, office work, data entry, gear maintenance, vehicle upkeep, and a variety of other projects that contribute to the buffalo's well-being. The spirit of cooperation and shared responsibilities is a hallmark of our community, making your experience all the more fulfilling.
How to Help from Home
You can make a meaningful impact on the Buffalo Field Campaign and the bison without ever leaving your hometown. Here are several ways you can contribute:
- Donation Drive in Your Local Community:
Engage local businesses, such as grocery stores, restaurants, gear or equipment stores, and general shops in your area, to consider donating items that we can use. We are always in need of food, new winter gear, and various household items. Buffalo Field Campaign is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and donations are tax-deductible, making it an excellent way for local businesses to support our cause.
- Amplify the Bison's Voice:
- Support a Volunteer from Afar:
If joining us at our camp is not feasible for you, consider adopting a Buffalo Field Campaign Volunteer. Your support goes a long way, covering the costs of feeding, housing, and providing essential support to our dedicated volunteers in the field. Supporting a volunteer costs approximately $35 per week, contributing to keeping our crew well-fed, comfortably housed, and actively engaged in protecting the buffalo.
Your contribution, no matter how big or small, helps us continue our vital work in preserving these iconic creatures and their habitats. Thank you for being part of our mission to protect the buffalo.
More Volunteering Opportunites:
- Internship Program
- Summer Season; Outreach and Education in Yellowstone National Park
- Road Show
- Education and Outreach in Your Neighborhood