How You Can Volunteer to Clean Up the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Melvin Silvestre, a contractor for Oilmop, helps clean the Port Fourchon coast by sifting through sand to find oil debris. Photo: Flickr/Deepwater Horizon Response

Volunteers wishing to help clean up the Louisiana coast can sign up here.

The Louisiana Gulf Response is a coordinated effort between several nonprofit or governmental conservation and environmental organizations: The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, the National Wildlife Federation, the National Audubon Society and the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program.

Volunteers are needed to assist with a variety of needs - from oiled wildlife recovery to monitoring and photographing oil movement to providing a boat and driver for response activities. No specific training or experience is necessary, although you must be at least 18 years old to volunteer. Some tasks, such as food preparation, may require no training.

Other tasks, such as washing oiled birds, may require specific certifications or skills. They encourage pre-veterinary students, veterinary technicians and those with HAZWOPER training to volunteer. Anyone with experience in dealing with wildlife handling, rehabilitation, or hazardous materials clean up is also strongly encouraged to register. Click here to sign up.

- On June 4, the National Audubon Society created a National Oil Spill Response Center in Mississippi to serve as the hub for their recovery effort throughout the Gulf. They anticipate some 13,000 volunteers will be needed to do a coastal bird survey to collect data and photos on birds across the coast; assist with the transport of injured and oiled wildlife throughout the coastal region; to make nets and cages to assist professionals with oiled bird rescue efforts; and to man the Bird Hotline to handled calls related to bird sightings, etc. Go to to sign up and for more information.

- The Audobon Society also seeks eBirders, people needed to survey local beaches and marshes for birds; your observations will help conservationists and researchers prioritize their efforts and asses the impacts of the spill. Click here for more information or to volunteer.

- Louisiana's St. Tammany Humane Society seeks trained and untrained volunteers to help clean and rehab oiled pelicans. Call Catherine Wilbert at 985-674-6898 or click here.

- The Sierra Club is mobilizing volunteers, and will connect you with opportunities to help. Please click here to sign up and for more information. The Sierra Club also has a Facebook page where you can find volunteer opportunities and updated spill information.

- The Huffington Post has partnered with Meetup Everywhere, an application that allows you find others who also want to get involved and provides a forum for you to work together to help out with the oil spill. Click here to find others near you.

- To help with wildlife rehabilitation efforts, check out the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, which provides information on how to volunteer.

- Human hair from beauty salons, animal fur from groomers and pantyhose are needed by San Fransisco-based Matter of Trust to make homemade booms to sop up the oil. The fur is stuffed into pantyhose, which give shape to the booms. Volunteers are needed at warehouses in different sites across the country to gather for “Boom-B-Qs” to learn how to make the booms.

- Another option for those wishing to help oiled birds, Pascagoula River Audubon Center, part of Audobon Mississippi, is organizing training on cleaning wildlife affected by the oil spill. Volunteers may register their contact information here.

- Tristate Bird Rescue & Research is also coordinating on-the-ground volunteer efforts.

- Save Our Seabirds is a Sarasota, Florida-based bird rescue group that is looking for volunteers and support as its response team prepares to help oiled wildlife. Please click here to fill out their online form or call 941-388-3010.

- Folks on the Florida Keys are mobilizing volunteers to fend oil off its shores. You can register here. About 800 boat captains have already offered the use of their vessels, and scores of people have signed up for classes in how to clean up oil that could begin showing up on the coast later this week.

- Another way to volunteer in Mississippi is to go to the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, which has registered more than 4,000 volunteers, with over 500 from out of state and as far away as Australia and Canada.

- Global Green USA, a nonprofit focused on the creation of green buildings and cities, is signing up volunteers to help clean up the spill. Click here to sign up.

- The Gulf Restoration Network, a New Orleans-based nonprofit committed to keeping the Gulf of Mexico clean, seeks volunteers to help with clean-up efforts. Please click here to sign up.

- Another way to help Louisiana's wildlife is to volunteer through the Humane Society of Louisiana, which is coordinating volunteer efforts.

- The Alabama Coastal Foundation, which works to improve and protect the quality of Alabama's coastal resources, is collecting contact information from volunteers for cleanup efforts along the Alabama coast if the spill reaches its shores. To register, and for the latest information on the spill, go to its website or call the Mobile-based nonprofit at 251-990-6002.

- The Mobile Baykeeper is another Alabama group seeking volunteers in case the oil pushes into the state's shores. If you are interested in volunteering to reduce the impacts of the oil spill to the Bay, please call their office at 251-433-4229 or e-mail with your name, address, phone number, e-mail and available resources.

Other volunteer opportunities can be found at the Deepwater Horizon Response Request Line at 1-866-448-5816.

To check out state specific volunteer opportunities, go to:





For more information on volunteer opportunities as they arise, get on Twitter and search #oilspill. On Facebook, keep checking the Louisiana Shore Cleanup group, the Help Prepare for Florida Oil Spill in Panhandle group and Deepwater Horizon Oil Recovery Incident.

Even before the oil reaches a beach, you can get involved: environmental groups suggest removing driftwood, dry grass, seaweed and debris from areas expected to be effected before it becomes soaked in oil. If you see any wildlife covered in oil, don't capture it but call 866-557-1401. To report areas with oil ashore, call 866-448-5816.

Story by Diane Herbst, originally published June 11, 2010 on Tonic

  • adam

    very organized and helpful, keep up the good work.

  • Mary

    I agree you are very organized. I live in Los Angeles, CA and I would like to know is there any way I can volunteer to help from out here. I can not afford to fly out there and stay in a hotel to help you on your beaches but I would love to help in some way.

  • Kelli

    There is also an iPhone app to assist in reporting on wildlife & tar found. It was on my local news in MA last night. Wanted to pass it on.

  • Ruth

    It is great how people from all walks of life can help in any way to help restore the Gulf of Mexico’s natural environment. It takes time for a place to recover from oil spill. Anybody who knows of a technology or a traditional means to separate oil from water would be a huge help.

  • Laura

    I was wondering what a person should do if they want to volunteer but cannot afford to pay for a hotel for X amount of time….Is there anywhere that is allowing volunteers to stay on the property or near-by? What if you just want to come down and spend a few weeks helping to clean up? What should they do? What should a person bring to assure that they have what they need? Thank you!

  • Connor


    My situation is the same as yours, I live in LA and experienced in beach clean up and wildlife rehabilitation, i cant find any reliable websites or any volunteer programs that will house volunteers, i dont get it , there are thousands of people trying to help but no promoted programs that will allow those volunteers to come without paying their asses off

    I am 21, i go to college and would love to spend weeks of the summer or the entire summer helping a cause such as this, but there is no possible way for me to do it if I cannot afford a hotel room for X amount of time

    IF anyone knows of any volunteer group that WILL house volunteers some way shape or form , please email me at


  • http://tyson Tyson holmes

    please send a response e-mail so that i know how to come help, just like the rest of these people, i have little money but lots of skills needed for this event in history. name is Tyson Holmes and i want to come help. thank you..

  • Pamela Ogletree

    I have 2 to 3 weeks vacation time coming and would like to help clean up the beaches. I can afford to get there but don’t have a clue how I can help. I want to know if I can be of use to the people there who really need it. I’m 66 years old and feel there must be something I can do. My heart goes out to them.
    The only thing I can’t do is face the poor animals as I’m extremely emotional and seem to spend more time crying for them as they can’t fend for them for themself which effects me alot. Cleaning beaches or anything else that would be useful is right up my alley. Please respond to my email as watching this on TV is affecting me very dramacticly.

    Thank you
    Pam Ogletree

  • Michael

    For those of you looking to volunteer from out of state and need a place to stay you can find some good information at:

    On the site there is a link on the right that is for volunteer sign-up. After you click on the link there is another tab on the right that says housing information. There is a long list of Hotels and churches, many in the New Orleans area, that are offering accomodations.

    The Hotels are mostly offering discounted rates but you can find shelter at a church or other volunteer site for as little as $10-$25 dollars a night.

    The site also has information about what you can do to help if you have special skills or if you just want to give time.

    Hope this helps someone.

    Thank You – Michael Jacobs

  • Michael

    The full URL name is:

    Then follow the directions above. I found it by doing a google search for volunteer oil louisiana.