Gulf Oil Spill: How You Can Help

2/18/10: The Volunteer Field Observer Online Training Portal is now up and running. Inside this portal you will be able to find out more information about the Volunteer Field Observer program, complete the necessary release forms, and go through the entire safety and procedural trainings all from the comfort of your own home. The training takes about 30 minutes to complete, but once you’re registered you may begin conducting assessments at any time.

11/5/10: Support the Postcards from the Gulf art sale. Sales begin online at 10:30pm November 5, and there will be a showing and sale on November 12 from 6-9pm at Room 1927, next to the Saenger Theater in downtown Mobile. All postcards are $50 and sales benefit the Alabama Coastal Foundation.

10/12/10: Mobile Baykeeper has moved to their new office space at 450-C Government Street. They are looking for volunteers interested in data entry in the office. This volunteer opportunity requires commuting to the office in downtown Mobile during business hours.

9/5/10: There is a potential for VFOB training in Gulf Shores, but 10 people must be registered for the training to be confirmed. The location would be the Gulf Shores Library at 221 West 19th Avenue in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Please email or with your interest.

Mobile Baykeeper is seeking volunteers to help upload VFOB data reports, and people to help with packing boxes for their upcoming move. They are also looking for a volunteer familiar with our coastal area businesses. They need research on local restaurants, outdoors and lodging businesses who may be interested in partnering with regard to out of town volunteers. E-mail

Alabama Coastal Foundation is looking for an Administrative Assistant volunteer with good communication skills and experience with Microsoft Office. Interested parties should send an e-mail with their availability and skills to with ‘Admin Volunteer’ in the subject line.

8/23/10: Alabama Coastal Foundation and Mobile Baykeeper are working to expand the Volunteer Field Observer (VFOB) training so that it is accessible to all volunteers, whether you live along the Gulf Coast or come from outside the region to provide assistance. They are also working to make the training available online. To ensure this process provides enough information for out-of-town volunteers and those less familiar with Alabama’s shoreline, they are currently seeking local volunteers to help identify public access areas – boat launches as well as shoreline access for volunteers. If you are available to help with this process, please contact Please let her know which area you are most familiar with, and she will provide you with the grids associated with that area.

7/9/10: The latest volunteer opportunity is staffing the Jimmy Buffett concert in Gulf Shores on Sunday, July 11. 60-80 volunteers will be needed; call 211 or 888.421.1266 and mention the Jimmy Buffett concert.

Send a letter to your senators advocating clean energy and a carbon cap. See my letter for a sample.

Additional Volunteer Field Observer (VFOB) training sessions will take place next week. Register by emailing to reserve your space.

Also, the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium is seeking volunteers to become peer listeners to help others through emotional stresses related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Training sessions will take place next week. Space is limited to 30 individuals per training session. Additional sessions will be planned based on interest. If you would like to volunteer to become a peer listener, register online or contact Tracie Sempier, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, at or 228.818.8829 (in Mississippi) or Jody Thompson, Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant, at or 251.438.5690 (in Alabama).

6/6/10: Tuesday, June 8 is World Ocean Day, and there are meetups being held around the country to try to brainstorm actions in response to the oil spill. There is one planned for Mobile/Dauphin Island, and several others along the Gulf Coast. Check this web site for details and locations.

Also, plan on attending a Hands Across the Sand event on June 26.

5/22/10: Page down through this Alabama Coastal Foundation newsletter to find more info on the oil response, including links to EPA Air Quality Monitoring, Water Quality Monitoring, and information on dispersants.

Volunteers are being asked to provide more information about their skills and resources. “Completion of the following short form [Alabama only] will ensure that you remain on volunteer rolls for the remainder of the response effort. Please … fill out this form if you are interested. Once completed, Volunteer Response Centers (VRCs) will match your interests and schedule availability with our current volunteer needs.”

At The Boston Globe‘s Big Picture, you can see striking photos of the oil spill response.

5/16/10: By now you may know that the only people who will be allowed to handle oil will be employees of BP and their contractors, and who have received hazardous materials training. For employment opportunities, visit Alabama Joblink and follow the Environmental Cleanup link in the lefthand menu. Out of work fishermen may qualify for the Vessels of Opportunity program.

Volunteers wishing to help with oiled wildlife must go through a training program with significant time commitments (see 5/3/10 below).

There will be other opportunities for people who will not be coming into contact with oil, and those volunteers must still go through a training course provided by PEC Premier, a BP contractor. You can get more info on the training here.

There are a lot of good places to get information online.

Deepwater Horizon Response: The official site of the unified command.

Alabama Coastal Foundation: Check their menu of links on the left, and their page of Other Important Links, which has a long list of various resources.

Cool Green Science: The conservation blog of The Nature Conservancy, where Bill Finch is writing about the spill.

Gulf Restoration Network blog Sign a petition asking President Obama and Congress for a permanent ban on offshore drilling. Also, join the Facebook group 1 Million Strong Against Offshore Drilling.

5/3/10: I’m going to just continue to add information to this post rather than create separate entries.

The National Audubon Society is planning to train and certify volunteers to wash oiled wildlife. You can sign up online or call 866.448.5816. Alternately, you can contact the Mobile Bay Audubon Society at 251.990.0423.

Here’s a good comprehensive web site on the spill from The Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Programs. Lots of links, tools, and resources.

4/29/10: I can’t help but take a moment to acknowledge that we are sitting on the edge of the worst environmental catastrophe in the United States since the TVA coal slurry burst in 2008, releasing 500 million gallons of coal ash near Harriman TN.

With the spill potentially reaching the Mississippi coast tonight, organizations and agencies in Alabama are waiting to mobilize volunteers. There are several numbers you can call to sign up. I’ll admit, it’s not clear to me what exactly an individual could do, but requests do say to indicate whether you have a boat or kayak (or other resources) you can use. Right now the organizations are just collecting names, and will contact people when they have a better idea what can be done.

Alabama Coastal Foundation
: 251.990.6002 or

Mobile Baykeeper: 251.433.4229 or

Mobile Bay National Estuary Program: 251.431.6409 or

BP number for volunteer information: 866.448.5816

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  1. By Jenni on May 3, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jenni . Jenni said:

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