Protecting Wildlife and Their Habitats

Matt Hillman shares the many ways in which the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is working to share the beauty of our local wildlife with the public. 

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash
Allies and Partners

Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

Our mission at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is first and foremost to protect wildlife and their habitats.

However, that mission could never succeed were it not for the tireless efforts of our many partners and volunteers who share a deep appreciation for their public lands — and a passion to instill the same in others.

That is why, throughout April and May, we and our partners are celebrating an extended Earth Day with a focus on recreating responsibly, giving back to public lands, and fostering an awareness for the social and emotional benefits of being in wild places. From shoreline cleanups to behind-the-scenes bicycle tours, there are more ways than ever to experience your national wildlife refuge and reconnect with nature.

Front desk volunteers are once again staffing our exhibit space, welcoming and orienting guests with a smile, as volunteer beach stewards protect nesting birds and educate beach goers about piping plovers. Refuge maintenance volunteers construct and repair a variety of structures, offering enhanced opportunities for the public and efficiencies for staff.

The Friends of Parker River, instrumental in their support for all aspects of refuge operations, coordinate among dozens of volunteers who tirelessly clean the beaches and shovel mountains of sand from the boardwalks, ensuring accessibility to all.

The services provided by members of our community to continually improve these spaces are profound and too numerous to name here.

To engage in other ways, consider taking part in the variety of programs offered over the coming weeks. For the first time, we are working with our Mass Audubon partners — an ACES ally — to offer drop-in bird banding demonstrations so visitors can learn about long-term monitoring efforts at the refuge. Numerous guided bird walks are available both day and night. Or, for a faster-paced adventure, consider a trek to Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge for one of several bicycle tours of this unique landscape steeped in Cold War history.

Having just celebrated Earth Day 22, we at Parker River extend our heartfelt thanks to all who contribute to make the refuge and surrounding lands a world-class destination for wildlife and people alike.

Although our primary mission is about the land, the waters, and the wildlife of our — your — National Wildlife Refuge, the staff and managers are cognizant of its contribution to the local area economies where we live and work.

After all, eco-tourism creates a stronger local economy as visitors task time to dine in and visit our local host communities in New Hampshire and Massachusetts such as Newburyport and Gloucester.

For more information and how to participate in upcoming events:

This column was coordinated by ACES youth corps member, Caleb Bradshaw. To share any comments or questions, please send an email to To learn more about ACES and its Youth Leadership Initiative, visit website

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about the author
Matt Hillman

Matt Hillman is the Project Leader of Parker River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Complex, which includes four refuges from the rocky shores of Gloucester, MA to the Monadnock region of New Hampshire. Matt came to Parker River from Monomoy NWR in Chatham, MA, in 2020. He lives in Exeter, NH with his wife, 3 & 5 year old sons, and a loveable rescue dog.

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