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Help Design a New Addition to the Refuge

Fort Assabet continues to grow! Come help build and create a very special place, set on our refuge, for all our kids to connect with nature, forever!

Besides the widely known educational and health benefits of “unstructured” nature play, including how kids will expand science, engineering and math skills, they also gain leadership and communications skills to boot! The more kids that come out, and the more they return, the more all of these benefits to them will increase. They have the ownership in what they build, because they built it themselves, therefore they will want to protect it, and all of the nature surrounding them as well.

Please join the Fort Assabet facebook group site: You will be able to post photos/videos of your fort building, plants, animals, weather, etc., and also post articles you find on the benefits of outdoor nature play. Also post the creative ideas that you and your kids will naturally come up with to share with others, like what tools are needed. Please be sure to create your own “events” for others to join with you as well.

The entire refuge system is watching to see how we do and what works. Fort Assabet will help create the future generation of refuge wildlife and land stewards. Most importantly our kids will show us how nature provides them the additional education and leadership skills they will need to succeed in life!

Permanently connect kids to nature and unleash their creative imaginations and problem solving skills, by providing an outdoor learning environment that will empower them to design and build their own idea of a nature play area. They will have the ownership and responsibility to continuously maintain and improve the nature play area. They will learn how to interact with their peers, to lead and/or to follow. This will keep them coming back again and again, to develop a lifetime value of nature and empower them to learn more than they would in a classroom.


  • Improve Independent Social Communication Skills.
  • Engineering/Planning– Critical thinking Skills, where should they build things, be ready for snow, rain, and wind.
  • Math and Science Skills
  • Resource Economic skills - see first hand, the basic values of environmental tradeoffs of the FORT vs. conservation.
  • Animal/Plant identification- through tracks, trail cameras, sound, observation.
  • Writing Skills – note taking, event logs, activity journals, posting progress, accomplishments, failures, facebook photography posting.
  • Leadership Skills – who decides to do what and where. What rules are needed, if any? Will they be revised as needs change?
  • Determine their own and shared physical limitations to regulate their own behavior.
  • Change the World!

Needs: (To be determined by Parent Steering Committee and Refuge Management Coordination - over time, nothing will be cast in stone!)

  • 3 thru 11 year old kids. (Older?)
  • Decent size area to maintain – One acre?
  • Parent observation, encouragement and support, but no help in planning design, building or maintenance. Obvious safety management.
  • Create a parent/kid planning committee, lead by kids.
  • Determine hours of operations – 24x7x365? with camping availability?

We also particularly need help with the following:

  • Nature Store Volunteers: Want to meet happy, nature-loving refuge visitors? Want to help the Friends and the Refuge? Picture yourself chatting with people in our lovely Nature Store. All it takes is one weekend day a month from 10AM – 4PM. The environment is relaxed and friendly. Very simple to use cash register. All you need to do is bring a smile!

    This is a great time to get involved as cooler autumn days bring more people into the store. The store is a completely non-profit operation, whole run by the Friends of the Asssabet River NWR. All proceeds benefit the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge.

    All training provided. No experience necessary. Hours negotiable! Please call Betsy Griffin at 978-793-2756 for information.
  • Computer Data Entry Volunteer: The Friends are in need of occasional data entry to maintain our membership records. No special skills required. Some work can be done at home, some on the Friends computer at the Visitor Center. Most tasks will only take an hour or less. Training will be provided.

    We really need your help! Please contact Liz Truebenbach if you'd like to help!

We also need help with the following tasks, but feel free to contact us if you have other skills you'd like to volunteer. Unless noted, please email us if you'd like to help!

  • Invasive Plant Removal on the Refuge with Assabet Pulling Together. Please email if you can help.
  • Organize/Oversee educational programs for adults/children – we’d welcome your ideas!
  • Lead or coordinate nature walks – share your knowledge!
  • Lead bicycle or snowshoe events – share your passion!
  • Help with grant applications including concept development, application writing, follow-up reports. There are many opportunities to explore.
  • Assist with outreach:
    • Coordinate community events such as Hudson Fest, Maynard Farmer’s Market, Earth Days at Lincoln Labs
    • Coordinate refuge events such as monthly meetings, nature walks, art classes, the possibilities are endless!
    • Write articles for our website. If we can establish flow of material, it would be great to have a FARNWR Facebook page.
  • Assist with membership:
    • Help screen volunteers – chat with people interested in volunteering. No cold calls.
    • Membership mailings and database – computer skills appreciated. We use MailChimp and Access.
    • Perform occasional data entry to maintain our membership records. No special skills required. Some work can be done at home, some on the Friends computer at the visitor center. Most tasks will only take an hour or less.
  • Assist with financial audits – we need a qualified volunteer to audit our accounts.

Please email us if you'd like to help!