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Volunteer program

Volunteer program of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

USGS Housing for Volunteers of HVO

What is the guest house?

USGS guest house The USGS has a dormitory house in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park that is available to USGS volunteers at no charge. The house is co-ed, and as many as nine volunteers share the house at any one time. There are several shared rooms (same-sex only). Facilities include kitchen, laundry equipment (washer, dryer, detergent provided), beds, sheets and blankets, television, and two bathrooms. Volunteers are expected to keep the house clean.

Located in the park's residential area, the house is only a few hundred meters from Kilauea's caldera and trails. HVO is 4 km from the house. Government vehicles and mountain bikes are provided for travel to and from HVO and for other travel within the park; the vehicles are only for work-related activities.

Kitchen is fully furnished!

The kitchen is equipped with electric stove and oven, two refrigerators, microwave oven, toaster, coffee maker, silverware and cooking utensils, pots and pans, and a double sink (no automatic dishwasher!).

Depending on the mix of volunteers at the guest house, meals are prepared individually or on a shared rotating basis. Volunteers are expected to keep the kitchen clean!

Volunteer cooking in kitchen
Kitchen stove
Volunteer in kitchen
Preparing dinner

What expenses will I have to pay at the guest house?

  • Volunteers are responsible for travel expenses to and from Hilo, Hawai`i. You will be greeted at the airport and driven to HVO.

  • Volunteers must pay for their own food; food prices are about 15% higher in Hawai`i than on the mainland United States. Previous volunteers have estimated their food costs averaged about $75 (US) per week.

  • Volunteers must provide their own personal field gear (boots, back pack, rain gear, sun protection, etc.); specialized equipment needed for work will be provided by HVO (gas mask, tools, hard hat, etc.).

  • Volunteers must have their own health insurance. You will be asked to show proof of your health insurance when you arrive at HVO. On-the-job injuries are covered by workmen's compensation.

  • Volunteers must pay for non-work related transportation on the Big Island and travel to neighboring islands. Many volunteers make trips to various locations on the Big Island by renting a car over weekends and extended holidays.

What about transportation when I arrive at the guest house?

  • Government vehicles and mountain bikes are provided for travel between the guest house and the Observatory, for work in the National Park and elsewhere, and for all work-related activities. Volunteers are responsible for all other travel costs. Non-work related travel on the Big Island and neighbor islands must be paid for by volunteers (rental cars and airline tickets).

Where do volunteers staying at the guest house shop for food?

  • Small grocery/convenience stores are located in the park between the dorm and HVO and just outside the park in Volcano village, 3 km from the park entrance. A farmers' market in Volcano every Sunday morning provides the opportunity to purchase a variety of locally grown fruit and produce.

  • The nearest place for complete shopping is Hilo, the county seat of the Big Island. Hilo is 45-50 km distant--about 45 minutes drive. It is usually possible to arrange an occasional ride to town with someone from the Observatory or the Park.


Volunteer information

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Updated: 20 February 2002 (srb)