Volunteers Community Partners

Volunteer Opportunities

We are actively looking for volunteers to help the fight against invasive species and we want you to be a part of it! You’ll help us by serving as additional ‘eyes on the ground’, identifying target species in our region. Without your help these invaders might go undetected. Plus, early detection allows for rapid response of high priority invasive species that cause significant damage to native ecosystems.

We don’t just want you to help us, we want to help you, too! In these programs, you’ll learn more about the environment around you with the help of professionals! Get a close look at what plants are growing beneath the surface of the water, or along your favorite hiking trail.

Where does this take place?

Anywhere in the FLX!

Who can join?


Details for each program area below.

NEW! The Trail Trek!

Want to make a difference in your community? Want to help the environment? Need a reason to get outside and back in shape? Join the Trail Trek! The Trail Trek is a volunteer initiative by the Finger Lakes PRISM to find three of our worst invasive species across the FLX in the month of August.

Taking part is easy, after a brief virtual training, on 8/8 @ 6pm, you will record the presence of these three species if you come across them on a hiking trail, in a park, or in your backyard. Invasive species are one of our greatest environmental threats. Don’t just sit on the sidelines – help us fight invasive species!

We will be holding a virtual training for the Trail Trek on Monday, August 8th @ 6pm. Volunteers can register here: https://hws.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwtduCoqT8sGdbGawcMl49OkI0yD_VhOTYN

Email any questions to gallo@hws.edu

Terrestrial Survey (Trail Survey Program)

As part of our Trail Survey, participants are asked to hike a local trail and record what invasive species they see with the iMap Invasives app. By taking part in our Trail Survey, you not only help the environment by helping us track invasive species, but you give yourself a chance to learn new skills!

Trail Survey goals:

  • Find where invasive plants are growing along our trails by surveying with your smartphone
  • Use the collected data to prioritize invasive species removal

What would I be doing?

Garlic mustard, a common invasive plant.

Volunteers will be hiking a trail of their choice once a month during the summer (June, July, and August). While hiking, you will note the invasive species you find using an app on your phone called iMap invasives. There are two projects one can take part in for the Trail Survey – our Trail Trackers and our Trail Masters. The difference in these projects will be your skill level. Read more below for more details.

Trail Tracker: A Trail Tracker will learn how to identify six invasive species in a 30-minute training. Once trained, volunteers will be asked to hike one trail of their choosing in June, July, and August to search for two of those species each month. Become a Trail Tracker if you are just starting out, aren’t very knowledgeable about invasive species, or don’t have much time!

Trail Master: A Trail Master will learn how to identify over twenty different invasive species in a one-hour training. They will then survey the same trail once a month in June, July, and August, and will record invasive species observations every 50 feet along the trail. Become a Trail Master if you are knowledgeable about invasive species, participated in the Trail Survey previously, or are just eager to learn!

Benefits to joining the Trail Survey:

  • Help the environment by stopping our worst invasive species!
  • Learn new skills! Learn how to identify invasive species and use reporting tools on your phone
  • Be more active! By getting outside and hiking on trails, you can exercise without having to go to the gym
  • Get outdoors! Research shows that we spend 93% of our time indoors, and that being outside and interacting with nature can significantly help lower stress

If you’re interested, you can register here: https://forms.gle/FA9uwikSEWnDx9ki8 or email gallo@hws.edu.

Aquatic Survey (Macrophyte Survey Program)

The Macrophyte Survey Program provides community scientists with the information and supplies needed to sample for key invasive aquatic plant species in waterbodies near them. Participants attend a training online (or in person) to learn how to identify aquatic plants and report findings using your phone or tablet. We provide identification guides for any native or invasive plants you may find, but we really focus in on three high-priority invasive species: Hydrilla, Starry Stonewort, and Water Chestnut.

This program runs annually from June to October, and volunteers are asked to take samples once every two weeks. However, if you can only commit to a certain time period, just let us know!

Curious about what the sampling process entails? It’s easier than you think! The video linked below shows what the rake toss method of sampling entails—this is the same thing that you will do (though perhaps from your dock, a pontoon, paddleboat, etc.). You simply throw the sampling rake into the water and identify what plants are attached when you pull it back up.


The MSP has seen a lot of growth since its launch in 2017, and we want to make 2022 the best season yet! In 2021, the program had 27 volunteers across 18 waterbodies. The map below shows the high priority invasive species found through volunteer surveys in 2021.

To sign up, fill out the form at https://forms.gle/6Qn64BVikDpn8Hkx9 or email your contact information to svanwinkle@hws.edu.

Water Chestnut Hydrilla Starry Stonewort

Water Chestnut Pulls

Water chestnut (Trapa natans) is an invader of our waterbodies, and we’re looking for people to help us control it! Water chestnut can be removed by hand and is a great outdoor activity that helps protect the environment!

Pulls typically start at 9 am and last for about 3 hours. Kayaks or canoes are freely provided for volunteers. Use the links below to sign up for our various pulls for 2022!

Please RSVP using the links provided. Specific location addresses will be provided at a later date to the email you use to register for the event. We look forward to getting out on the water with you!

Location: Oneida Lake Marina

When? June 30th @ 9AM

Register: https://forms.gle/P9G8ttWR245Zkb1x9


Location: Canandaigua Lake, High Tor

When? July 6th @ 9AM

Register: https://forms.gle/hacpKhqMTgSSpFLD6


Location: Lake Shore Marshes WMA

When? July 7th @ 9AM

Register: https://forms.gle/3YuqVjjgSfb5bHms6

Location: Montezuma

When? July 13th

Contact the Montezuma Audubon Center at montezuma@audubon.org for more information!


Location: Braddock Bay

When? July 14th

Contact Dave Will of the Seneca Park Zoo at DWill@senecazoo.org for more information!


Location: Salmon Creek

Time: July 16th @ 9AM

Register: https://forms.gle/MizyPtwE9U9fUvBZA


Location: Montezuma

When? July 20th

Contact Nicholas Vermeulen of the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge at Nicholas_Vermeulen@fws.gov for more information!


Location: Hector Falls Creek

Time: July 21st @ 9AM

Register: https://forms.gle/tUP9PLLEs9DTJ4CL9


Location: Keuka Outlet (Penn Yann)

Time: July 27th @ 9AM

Register: https://forms.gle/v6FcGuqpXkgeUrTm9


Location:  Lakeshore Marshes WMA

Time: July 28th @ 9AM

Register: https://forms.gle/3YuqVjjgSfb5bHms6


Location: Salmon Creek

Time: August 6th @ 9AM

Register: https://forms.gle/MizyPtwE9U9fUvBZA


Location: Genesee River

Time: August 11th @ 9AM

Register: https://forms.gle/iPTEGBLrmUjQ8g7n7

Email svanwinkle@hws.edu with any questions.


Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Survey

Hemlocks are under threat! We are seeking dedicated volunteers to join us in the fight against one of our most destructive (and smallest) invasive species, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA)! This tiny insect is wreaking havoc on our hemlock trees across the Finger Lakes! You can help us fight HWA by joining us in scouting for it, either on your own in trails and parks in your area, or by attending one of our workshops. With a better understanding of where HWA is, we can better plan efforts to limit its spread, and treat it before its too late.

Register here: https://forms.gle/3aevQD3wnrAHaPJ29