Podcast Episodes

Heather Spain describes volunteering at wildlife refuges in Episode 259

Today I am interviewing a woman from Ohio who found her niche by Workamping at wildlife refuges across the country. They are beautiful locations she’s helping to preserve for future generations to enjoy.

Heather Spain and her husband started RVing in 2014, even though they knew he had cancer because they wanted to make the most of his remaining time. When her husband died in 2017, she continued the adventure in their fifth wheel with their black lab.

She has worked a variety of jobs, such as the sugar beet harvest and at private campgrounds. Then Heather started volunteering at state parks and with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Today, she hops across the country working at wildlife refuges for a few months at a time before “hitch itch” settles in and she wants to move to a new location.

The best part about volunteering is that Heather can almost always find a place to work wherever she wants to travel, and the organizations she helps are very grateful for her service.

She enjoys Workamping with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because the agency does not operate a lot of campgrounds. That means Heather isn’t cleaning up after other people. Rather, she is involved in conservation efforts to preserve the property for others to enjoy on day trips.

A former forklift operator, Heather is comfortable driving heavy equipment, which is used to clear brush, dig up culverts and even pave roads.

The best part about working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is that she gets to stay on the property with a 60,000-acre backyard. She gets a free RV site, her utilities are paid for and sometimes she gets a few meals all in exchange for 24 hours of volunteer work every week.

Nor does Heather have a set schedule. When she arrives at a refuge, the staff hands her a set of keys and gives her a list of things they’d like her to do. Then Heather gets to set her own schedule. She can opt to work a little bit every day, or work three eight-hour days and take four days off. That gives Heather plenty of time to explore an area before she moves on.

Heather was at a refuge in northeast Texas when she was interviewed, but was planning to move to a refuge along the Gulf of Mexico to begin another assignment.

Another reason why Heather likes working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is that she doesn’t really have to worry about submitting a resume and waiting to be interviewed or selected for a job. She basically contacts the refuge, explains her qualifications and asks if her services are needed. It’s a yes or no answer. Then Heather can plan accordingly or look for another place that could use her skills during the time she’d like to be in the area.

Heather encourages other women to venture out on their own, too. There are a lot of groups for women RVers and she can usually figure out what to do to fix any problems she encounters. Heather was honest in saying she really wished she and her husband had ventured out to enjoy the RV lifestyle much earlier than they did.

People can connect with Heather on Facebook.

Today’s episode is brought to you by the featured employers at Workamper.com.  These Workamper employers have taken an extra step to share some photos and detailed information about their Workamper programs.

Opportunities exist for solos, couples and families, whether they are full-time, part-time, seasonal and even long-term jobs. Some are income opportunities and others involve volunteering at locations throughout the United States. Go to workamper.com/fe to meet the featured employers today.

Employers who are seeking to hire Workampers can learn about the benefits of year-round recruiting by becoming a featured employer. More information about featured employers is available at workamper.com/fedetails.

That’s all I have for this week’s show. Next time, I will be speaking with a woman in her 30s who lives full-time in a van she converted herself, and works remotely for her employer. I’ll have that interview on the next episode of The Workamper Show. Thanks for listening!

Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber is a former journalist who covered the recreation vehicle industry since 2009. He started podcasting in 2014 and enjoys interviewing people about ways to live, work and play in their RVs.

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