A Fishy, Gamy Opportunity to Volunteer

California's Department of Fish & Game is looking for volunteers who enjoy the outdoors. If you're interested, don't delay — the application deadline is Monday.

It's not quite like being Ranger Rick, but the California Department of Fish & Game is looking for a few good men (and women) to serve as natural resource volunteers.

You;'ll need to hurry, though. Applications need to be mailed by Monday, April 23 (yes, mailed, with a stamp, as a written signature is required on some of the application materials). You may download the application at www.dfg.ca.gov/volunteer/NRVP/.

About 20 applicants will be selected to take part in 10-day training academy in Fairfield (Solano County) weekdays from May 30 through June 12. After that, they will fan out throughout the Bay Area, performing tasks that could range from a fishery survey of a local creek to representing the Department of fish & Game at community events.

"You need to be in good condition for field assignments, but the majority of our volunteers are retired," said DF&G Lt. Joshua Nichols, who heads up the program for the Bay Delta Region.

Other requirements: basic computer and writing skills, willingness to talk about conservation principles to the public in the field and in a classroom setting and a desire to work well with others in a team environment.

Once they have completed 80 hours of training, volunteers will work with a trained mentor for the first six months. Volunteers are asked to commit to at least 24 hours per month.

Volunteers don't have any law enforcement duties, but apart from that, the range of assignments is wide and depends on what's needed. It could include wildlife surveys, helping with biological research, publc outreach, patrolling ecological reserves, helping with youth fishing days and responding to human/wildlife incident calls. Opportunities are available throughout the Bay Area.

The Natural Resource Volunteer Program is relatively new — the current corps of volunteers graduated from the program's first training academy in 2011.

The DFG is a state agency with a professional staff, completely separate from California's Fish & Game Commission, whose members are appointed by the governor, Nichols said. Commission President Daniel Richards made headlines earlier this year when news media published a photograph of him posing with a mountain lion he shot and killed in Idaho.

Applications should be mailed to the DFG Bay Delta Region Office, 7329 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558 no later than April 23, 2012. Contact Lt. Joshua Nicholas at (707) 944-5562 with any questions.

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