Volunteer Program of the
USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)
Dozens of volunteers contribute thousands of hours each year to help
HVO's staff monitor the active volcanoes of Hawai`i and conduct
research on various aspects of Hawaiian volcanism. The volunteers
in turn gain experience working on active volcanoes and
participating in scientific research--collecting and analyzing
data, building and installing instruments for experiments and
volcano and earthquake monitoring, taking photographs and
conducting surveys, and working on team or individual research
Volunteers range from undergraduate students to retired educators, computer
programmers to chemists, and writers to electricians. People come
from around the world to volunteer or work at HVO. Hawai`i's active
volcanoes and natural beauty make the volunteer positions very popular
and highly competitive.
If you are not a citizen of the United States the USGS Exchange
Visitor Program will enable you to collaborate and work with USGS
scientists, similar to volunteers.
HVO provides free lodging for as many as 7 volunteers at
a time in a fully-furnished house about 4 km from the Observatory.
Volunteers staying in our guest house must be willing to work for
at least three months on a full-time basis. Transportation is
provided between the house and HVO, but volunteers are responsible
for all non-work-related travel expenses (travel to and from Hilo,
Hawai`i, and travel on the Big Island and neighboring islands).
Volunteers are also responsible for all food and health-care costs.
Many of the volunteer positions require work in the field, sometimes
in remote areas of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and other parts
of the Big Island. For these positions, volunteers often must hike
several kilometers over rough and irregular ground in hot, humid
conditions, or sometimes in raw, bone-chilling cold and wet weather
high on the volcanoes. Also, some of the field sites are near active
fumaroles, and many sites are intermittently swept by the plume
of sulfur dioxide gas from the Pu`u `O`o vent--the noxious plume
poses a health hazard by aggravating preexisting respiratory ailments
(for more information about the plume, see
Volcanic air pollution--a hazard in Hawai`i).
Please note that that the number of applications from qualified candidates often exceeds the number of available volunteer positions at HVO, so not every applicant can be selected to volunteer with us. If you do not hear back from us within one month of submitting your volunteer application to HVO, it has not been accepted. You are welcome to re-apply, or to apply for another position, at any time.
We do our best to accommodate requests and to reply promptly, but we do not have sufficient staff resources to answer all applicant inquiries individually.
Thank you for your interest in volunteering at HVO.
Volunteer opportunities with the Federal Government are available to both citizens and non-citizens.
Some universities and other educational institutions will grant
academic credit for participation in volunteer projects. Student
volunteers are personally responsible for making all arrangements with
their instructors or department heads. The Federal Government will
cooperate in this process by providing a record of specific service upon
The URL of this page is http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volunteer/
Updated: 4 March 2016 (pnf)