Mass action requires a mass of people: this includes YOU!
Come defend the buffalo by joining us on the frontlines. You can be part of an elite group of buffalo defenders! We are proud to have facilitated the participation of over 5,000 volunteers from across the Unites States and around the world. Each has joined us on the frontlines and actively helped to save the last wild herds of buffalo.
You, yes you: YOU have much to offer in time, energy, skills, and passion. So will you join us?
Here is a quick look at some of the types of help you will provide when you arrive:
- Patrols: Join our boots on the ground (or skis in the snow) for buffalo protection.
- Office work: Answer phones, work on computers, and more.
- Building and vehicle maintenance: Structures, grounds, cars and trucks—and more!
- General: Snow shoveling, wood cutting, cooking, gardening, and other seasonal duties.
Buffalo Field Campaign is the only buffalo protection group living and working in the Yellowstone Ecosystem full time. We are on patrol all day—every day—when buffalo are in danger. BFC patrols defend the buffalo on their critical, native Montana habitat and document every move made against them.
Will you please consider becoming a BFC volunteer? The future of America's last free-roaming herds depends on you!
Below the application links, we provide a lot more information to help you determine if this experience is the right fit for you. Please read all of the documents and other information thoroughly before making your decision. This rewarding experience is also a great deal of work and responsibility.
If you decide you would like to join our ranks, please click the links below to print our three required volunteer documents and either:
- Mail them back to us at: Volunteer, PO Box 957, West Yellowstone, Montana 59758, or
FIELD VOLUNTEERS NEEDED, BEGINNING EACH NOVEMBER!
An Opportunity for Every Season
Buffalo Field Campaign is dedicated to protecting Yellowstone’s bison 365 days a year. Each season brings its own unique weather, beauty, and operational needs to BFC's base.
BFC was founded by, and is made possible by, people like you. If you want to help create a legacy where the last wild buffalo roam free, please consider volunteering your time and energy with us. We often need help, but you must check with us before you make your plans. For everyone’s safety and for the effectiveness of our buffalo-focused mission: there are no exceptions to this rule.
There are opportunities during every season, but the buffalo have the greatest need for our help during the winter when the herds migrate to lower elevations in search of food, and then again in the spring when mothers venture to their traditional calving grounds outside the park boundaries. Any buffalo within Montana's borders is in danger of being shot on sight, hazed, or captured and shipped to the slaughterhouse.
Here’s a seasonal overview of buffalo life and some of our related camp activities and projects you can apply to join:
FALL: This season brings the end of the rut (the rut is the buffalo mating season)! It is also when we prepare camp for the cold winter months to come. We have Woodcut Weekend in early October, when volunteers turn out to gather and cut a full winter’s supply of firewood. Many thanks to past, present, and future volunteers for helping to keep us buffalo defenders protected and warm from the long cold season!
WINTER: The herds migrate to winter habitat in the lower elevations surrounding Yellowstone National Park. Winter in Yellowstone can be harsh, but is always extremely rewarding because we are protecting wild buffalo. It’s also a great time to get oriented into our daily patrols. Winter field patrols, which often entail documenting state and tribal buffalo hunts, usually run sunup to sundown, November through February.
SPRING: Family groups of buffalo journey together to their traditional spring calving grounds during this budding, blossoming, and birthing time of year. Hundreds of buffalo leave the park to follow in their ancient ancestors' footsteps, gracing the Madison River on their way to the Horse Butte Peninsula. Unfortunately, spring’s birthing migration is marred by the Montana Department of Livestock’s (DOL) repeated hazing of pregnant and birthing buffalo. It is not unusual for newborn buffalo calves to die as a result of this, literally being hazed-to-death by the DOL with your tax dollars.
Spring is a demanding time for the buffalo as well as for the BFC volunteers working to protect them. The days are long, buffalo are everywhere and in desperate need of help and witnesses to document their plight. Volunteers are often sorely needed at this time of year. If you want to make a real difference for buffalo: please make every effort to join us in the spring if you can. You will see the annual renewal of the environment—bright green grasses, flowers blooming, calves prancing in the fields. Bring your friends, and be prepared! Spring patrols normally run from March to early June.
SUMMER: Buffalo are generally occupying their summer ranges within the Park’s interior. While the buffalo are relatively safe deep inside the Park, BFC now begins our annul outreach and education campaign, which is extensive. We have some limited opportunities for summer volunteers to spend time in Yellowstone National Park and elsewhere, serving as Buffalo Ambassadors by helping to educate tourists about the realities of what happens to the buffalo during the winter and spring months. We host groups and supporters visiting the area, and also organize a separate annual (traveling) BFC Road Show to share the buffalo’s message with people across the country.
All volunteers are provided room, board, external cold/wet-weather gear, and appropriate training. We respect vegan and vegetarian diets, but not everyone on the team eats this way. We are located in a rustic log cabin by beautiful Hebgen Lake, just a few miles outside of West Yellowstone, Montana. If you are flying or taking a bus into Bozeman in winter or spring, and will need a ride to camp, please plan to arrive on a Thursday when we make our weekly supply runs. Travel logistics should be discussed directly with BFC’s volunteer coordinator
Again: You must contact us before you make your plans to volunteer. When you arrive, you will be greeted by our volunteer coordinator who will help get you settled in. There is a required orientation session and training period to familiarize you with camp and allow us to assess your abilities and determine how your skills can be used to most effectively help protect the buffalo. There are many jobs to be done: patrols, cabin projects, public education projects; we have a long list. Patrols are done from cars, skis, or snowshoes. If you do not know how to ski or snowshoe, do not fret. We will teach you.
ABOUT LIVING AT CAMP - CABIN LIFE
BFC volunteers live in the cabin here in West Yellowstone and are provided with meals. The log cabin is warm and cozy with plenty of sleeping lofts and floor space if it’s really crowded. The view from any direction is incredible—to the front is Hebgen Lake and the Madison Range of the Rocky Mountains.
The cabin backs up to beautiful Gallatin National Forest, where ravens, elk, and coyotes (to name but a few of our neighbors) abound. It is a magnificent place to call home (and explore!).
Volunteers are encouraged to solicit food donations from their communities and to bring food to the Campaign. We provide vegetarian and vegan cooking, and wild game when available for meat eaters.
There are many activities besides going on patrol that make BFC run. There’s always something to do that will fit your skills and talent. When you’ve got down time, there are plenty of books, decks of cards, and games...and outdoors there are endless opportunities for wildlife watching, hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
A DAY-IN-THE-LIFE OF CAMP VOLUNTEERS
Camp life begins about an hour before sunrise to give volunteers time to wake up, get ready, and be in position in the field with the buffalo by first light.
Morning patrol volunteers arise during the dark of the morning, enjoy breakfast and then head out to stand with the buffalo until mid-day. At that point, shift-change takes place, and afternoon patrols take over the posts standing watch over the buffalo.
Afternoon patrols stay out until dark. When they get home, a hot yummy dinner awaits the entire camp.
Once everyone is gathered together, we share a meal and have our nightly meeting. These meetings allow us to review the day’s events and set up the next day’s patrols.
ABOUT FIELD PATROLS
Volunteers are asked to go on an average of five to six patrols a week, depending on how many buffalo are out of the park, how many volunteers we have in camp, and how many patrols we have in the field.
Each patrol is equipped with a two-way radio and a video camera. If Montana’s Department of Livestock (DOL) comes to kill or harass buffalo, we are in position and ready to document their every action. One of our goals is to help people around the world to see for themselves what really goes on out here: animal cruelty, wasted tax money, and an unabashed bias toward the livestock industry.
During the day while patrols are out, other volunteers remain behind to help with clean-up, cooking, radios, office work, buffalo advocacy and art, splitting wood, mending gear, video editing, vehicle maintenance, writing, and countless other tasks that benefit the buffalo. Everyone shares in the daily chores.
Despite the cold weather and our serious focus: It all works out incredibly well most of the time, and we are glad to say that BFC volunteers end up forming bonds that will never be broken. The buffalo bring us together and keep us together. It is for them that we are here, and it is through them that we gain our strength to carry on the crucial work of their defense. BFC is committed to nonviolent principles and does not support or condone violence of any sort; the atmosphere in our camp and our long-term coordinators all reflect this. In support of this overarching policy, all volunteers must agree to and sign our Behavioral Policy document (PDF).
WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU
If you are from a warmer area (you probably are) and are not equipped to dress for one of the coldest spots in the country, don't fret, we have equipment that you can borrow while you are here. Please remember that out here while you’re on patrol: COTTON KILLS! We strongly advise you to bring wool, wool, and more wool clothing. Synthetic fibers also work well. You can bring cotton for when you’re hanging out in the cabin if that’s what you’re comfortable wearing.
A partial list of gear you’ll need:
- Sleeping bag
- Long underwear: tops and bottoms. Again: no cotton!!! Bring polypropylene or wool long underwear!
- Wool (socks, sweaters, pants, etc.)
- Boots (water-proof), with a liner is best
- A day pack (for snacks, water, and gear)
- Warm hat and gloves or mittens
- Polar fleece or insulated ski pants (wool pants work just as well and are cheaper)
- Personal first aid kit (if you can)
- Flash light or headlamp
- MOST IMPORTANT: desire to save the buffalo!!
If you are not able to bring all of these things, please don't let that stop you from coming here to protect buffalo. We have a lot of gear that is available for you to borrow during your stay.
BEFORE YOU COME
You can begin to help the buffalo before you leave your hometown!
There might be stores in your area that would like to donate to the Campaign. It always helps when we have more food, winter gear, cross country skis etc. We are a nonprofit and their donations are tax deductible.
We sometimes require volunteers to stay a minimum of two weeks because it takes so long to get you integrated into the campaign—and it takes us time to properly train you, and for you to become acclimated.
BFC has a No New Dog Policy. Because of past problems and conflicts, as well as respecting the wildlife that lives near us, we cannot let new volunteers bring dogs. We love dogs and have no personal problems with them, but we have no choice. This cabin is the only home we have and if we lose it, we have no place to go. If you come here with your dog you will be required to leave.
HOW TO GET HERE: click here for information on how to get to camp (PDF).
If you plan on coming, let us know ahead of time so we’re ready for your arrival—and remember that we must have all three documents listed above on file for you (along with your state-issued identification) before you can become active.
We can’t wait to meet you. The buffalo await your help; see you soon!
CAN’T COME TO CAMP? WHY NOT ADOPT A BFC VOLUNTEER and help someone else protect buffalo?!
It costs us about $25 per person to feed and house a volunteer for a week.