Throughout the year, Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge hosts many resident and migratory birds, mammals, insects, students, scientists, and visitors. On a visit to the refuge, you might have passed the “Refuge Host” sign by the large dairy barn and probably asked: why would this refuge need a host?
The farmhouse was renovated in the 1990s to serve as a visitor’s center for the refuge. To ensure that the Farmhouse Visitor’s Center was fully staffed to accommodate visitors, the Refuge Hosting program was set up in 1998. Refuge Hosts serve as volunteers for the Division of Wildlife Conservation of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The summer season lasts from May 15 – September 15 and that period is split into three duty periods. Throughout their duty period, volunteering Refuge Hosts stay on site at the RV hook-up area. They provide essential services at and around the 12-acre historic buildings area. Refuge hosts staff the visitor’s center on the weekends, greet, and provide refuge information to visitors, sell gift shop items, grounds keeping tasks, and providing assistance with interpretive programs and other duties depending on experience and interest.
Meet the 2021 Creamer’s Field Refuge Hosts!
Kenneth and Mary
Duty Periods: May 15 – June 24 and August 7 – September 15.
“Once Kenneth and I both retired from the State of Delaware (me in Public Health, he in IT) we started doing some traveling across the country with an RV. Our first long trip was six months in 2014 and we travelled to Western Canada and Alaska. We spent six weeks in Alaska visiting Valdez, the Kenai Peninsula, Denali, Fairbanks, and Haines. While in Fairbanks, we visited Creamer’s Field and met Biologist, Mark Ross. We attended a program he did on his Artist in Residence sojourn in the Brooks Range. He was an interesting and entertaining speaker.
During our travels that first year, we stayed in numerous campgrounds – state, federal, and private. Because we like to travel and camp, we began to explore opportunities to volunteer as campground hosts in either state or federal campgrounds. It is a wonderful way to give back, learn about a particular area, and enjoy the great outdoors.
I began looking at federal and state volunteer websites to see what opportunities might be available. We first volunteered as camp hosts at Greenbrier State Park in Maryland in 2015, 2016, and 2017. We knew we wanted to return to Alaska, so I looked at the State of Alaska for volunteer opportunities, and Creamer’s Field was on the list. I e-mailed Mark Ross to ask about the Refuge Host positions. He told us to complete an application and submit it. We did and were able to host the middle duty period in the 2018 season. We enjoyed it so much that we volunteered the whole summer of 2020, though that was a very unusual year because of COVID-19. The Visitor Center was not open to visitors, so I spent much of my time pulling invasive bird vetch. Kenneth as always kept the grass mowed and the mowers running. This year, we are volunteering for the first and last six weeks of the season at Creamer’s Field. We are taking the middle season to travel to Valdez, Homer, Seward, etc. – places too far to drive during our days off when we are working.
Other places we have camp hosted include Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland, Mt Rogers National Recreation Area in Virginia, and Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
We love Alaska and will continue to come back as often as we can and certainly to volunteer at Creamer’s again.”
Ruth Ann and Greg
Duty Periods: June 29 – August 2
“Greg and I have volunteered for most of our lives. We decided that the retirement years would be different only to the length of time the volunteer position required. We travel about six months of the year in our 2008 Airstream travel trailer. And priority was finding assignments outside of the Texas summer heat. Greg first began looking at state websites where we have traveled. We were familiar with the area, so, acclimating to the community is easy.
We were introduced to Creamer’s Field by our daughter who lives in the Fairbanks area, and we have walked the trails as visitors. Creamer’s Field’s mission to educate the public through events and programs helps to understand its rich heritage. The preservation of Creamer’s Field as a historical place of importance has stood the test of time. It’s outreach to the community to develop their appreciation of the natural environment is important.
We have traveled to all fifty states. It is both a privilege and a pleasure to see the fascinating things in our United States of America. We have also had the pleasure of volunteering at Branch Lake in Ellsworth, Maine and for the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney, Texas.”
Thank you to our amazing Refuge Hosts this season! We appreciate their hard work, dedication, and for providing hospitality to all visitors at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge!
If you are interested in volunteering to be a host at the refuge or at any Alaska State Park in the future, view that information using the button below.