Volunteer Programs at Mote's Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration (IC2R3)
Realize the good you can do by simply giving your time. You can be part of something meaningful and help support one of the world's foremost marine research organizations by becoming a volunteer at Mote Marine Laboratory's Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration located on Summerland Key, Florida! Volunteering here is an educational experience to learn from our team in any of our widespread departments while gaining hands-on experience and knowledge!
Most volunteer opportunities require a weekly commitment, which can range from four to six hours. If this works best for you, you will select a set day and time for your shift that will be reoccurring each week. If committing to a set schedule doesn’t fit your needs, that’s not a problem! Several of our departments have a flexible schedule and and volunteer positions can be coordinated with Program Managers.
Please carefully review the volunteer descriptions for each department below to ensure that you select areas that will be a good fit for your skills, interests and schedule before submitting an application.
Coral Reef Restoration Program–Land-based
Mote scientists cultivate diverse corals for restoration and research in IC2R3’s land-based coral nurseries. At our facility, our land based restoration program maintains and cares for thousands of coral fragments located in our raceways. Day-to-day duties include generating tags for our various coral species, making/repairing racks and/or trees which hold our coral plugs, cleaning and siphoning raceways, and transferring corals to different raceways (outdoors, long hours in the heat). If an individual has previous husbandry experience, cleaning coral plugs to rid them of algae and pests is also available. Observing coral health and training in Mote’s coral microfragmentation process are also long-term volunteer possibilities!
Join our Education Department and gain more knowledge and experience while educating the public as well! Volunteer opportunities include assisting in various projects such as facility tours, K-12 school programs, field trips, residential programs, maintenance and husbandry of coral tanks, touch pools and more. Our Reef Revival dive program is also another opportunity to educate the public regarding our restoration efforts!
Join our Event squad! Mote’s Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration hosts a variety of events throughout the Florida Keys, such as Ocean Fest. This includes various events in Key West, Marathon, Islamorada and up to Key Largo. Assist with setup and breakdown, manning booths for tickets and/or merchandise, distributing food or beverages and managing shifts in our booths during the event.
Climate Change and Ocean Acidification
The Ocean Acidification Research Program at Mote was created to research and understand responses of ecologically important species—like corals—to projected levels of ocean acidification. Apply for our CAOS technical volunteer position, which includes maintenance of the system—(outdoors, long hours in the heat). Familiarity with power tools and mechanical skills for upkeep is preferred. Volunteering as a research assistant is another route, to help out with monitoring ongoing experiments. This also entails water quality collection, data entry and husbandry of wet lab spaces.
Coral Health & Disease
The Coral Health & Disease Program studies the causes and consequences of coral disease outbreaks, as well as the mechanisms that may promote coral health and resilience to major stressors such as temperature anomalies, disease and ocean acidification. Volunteer tasks can vary from project to project, but commonly involve processing samples (ex. DNA extractions), general lab maintenance and animal husbandry.
Have you ever wanted to be a matchmaker? Volunteer with our coral reproduction team and learn more about Mote’s breeding efforts for corals. As coral reefs are severely threatened, Dr. Hanna Koch and her team focus heavily on reproduction in a lab setting and our nurseries. Volunteering with this team includes duties such as coral husbandry tasks and providing care and maintenance to our coral recruits and assisting with basic aquaculture duties.
At Mote’s Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration, we always have maintenance and tasks to complete, whether that be pumps, installation, cleaning, etc.! There is always work around our facility for those willing to lend a hand and help out!
Mote Volunteer Nursery Day!
Once per month, join our Mote Volunteer Nursery Day Reef Revival trip! This will entail going out to our Looe Key nursery, which sits in 20-25 feet of water. If you're scuba certified, dive with us and assist in cleaning our nursery trees.
Open-water scuba certifiication is required to dive. Those who are not certified can bubble watch from the boat! You must volunteer a minimum of eight hours per month to be eligible.