Volunteering at the Festival

Become a Festival Chair, Volunteer During the Festival or Apply to be a Duck Sitter

Volunteer for the Waterfowl Festival!

The success of the Festival stems from the hard work and hospitality offered by our corps of dedicated volunteers. We invite you to join the team!

Each year we recruit, train and depend upon more than 1,200 volunteers to make the whole event happen. While mostly from Talbot County, some even travel from across the country simply for the fun of volunteering at our annual event. Festival planning and preparations go on year round, so volunteers are always needed for a multitude of tasks. More than 60 volunteer committee chairs invest hours of their time coordinating Festival details and they, in turn, depend on hundreds of others to help get things done. Volunteer opportunities are small to large, easy to extensive – but always much appreciated!

Festival and Year Round Volunteer Opportunities

Please use the form below to reach out.  Not sure where your best fit is? Call our office at 410.822.4567 or email Leslie Milby at lmilby@waterfowlchesapeake.org.

DUCKSITTERS (Volunteers 18 and under)
TIPS TRAINED BARTENDERS & BEER POURERS (We can direct you to a training session)

Join us as a Chairman in 2022!

Have more time to commit throughout the year? Consider joining us as a Chairman, where you will help us build and grow a venue or lead your own core of volunteers. Interested in helping a specific venue not listed? Let us know, our chairs aren’t ones to turn down help! To discuss further detail, please email Leslie Milby at lmilby@waterfowlchesapeake.org.

Chesapeake Marketplace Chair

The Chesapeake Marketplace is a large and dynamic venue, marketed as the place for families to “shop, play, eat and rest.” with a large variety of artisan’s, conservation activities, food vendors and more.

Be on the lookout for fresh vendors to reach out to throughout the year.
Reach out to children’s programs such as authors, Chesapeake mermaid, etc for activities.
Work throughout the year with office staff, school point person for Festival and participants on logistics for the site Festival weekend.
Work with the Cathy and the Conservation chair for layout and scheduling of activities in the classroom

During Festival weekend, be the “go-to” for youth and adult volunteers, as well as vendors and food concessions. Set up and layout are typically Wednesday to Thursday. Throughout the weekend, there will likely be shift work between you and Cathy and others on your team.

Conservation Chairman

Many folks that visit the Festival are not aware that we are a non-profit with funds going to local conservation projects. To help spread the message, we invite several green non-profits and businesses to bring hands-on and engaging conservation activities. 

We’ve done various formats from all together in a large tent, a smaller grouping in Christ Church and probably the most successful in recent years was having organizations dispersed to different locations with interactive activities. 

Previous Chairmen: Suzanne Sullivan of ShoreRivers, Margaret Enloe, Executive Director of Waterfowl Chesapeake


While official planning does not need to start until summer, several non-profits will reach out to us in winter and early spring as they are trying to organize their own schedules for volunteering. With flexible space for these exhibitors, we do welcome new organizations. 

To help both the Festival and the organization, brainstorm with them to come up with an activity for them to share. For example, a drop in craft at their table, a show or demonstration at a set time, etc. Traditional tabling is allowed but must be staffed with their volunteers at all times (no setup tables that are unmanned for extended periods.) Note: We do not allow raffles for other organizations during the Festival. 

Place the organizations for the best fit- sporting related such as DU has a good target audience at sportsmans while Pickering Creek does well at the middle school where local families come through. Share the contract information for both the exhibitor and the chairman prior to set up so they can arrange amongst themselves. 

You’ll also work with Leslie, Heather and Margaret with a schedule for the Official Guide and for other marketing and promotion materials. 

During the Festival, the chairman should check in with the organizations and be on call for problem solving if needed. 

Children's Decoy Painting Chairman

This has become a favorite of the middle school as it ties conservation, art and sporting into one family friendly free activity! With this popularity, participation is limited to 25- 30 kids per class usually held on mornings for multiple days of the Festival. Our chairmen lead the “class” through painting a unique 7” ceramic decoy painting, while pointing out special characteristics of the species and techniques a real artist might use. The chair has minimal prep work in prior months but does need to be present for all three days of the Festival.


Typically Leslie will order decoys in early summer for a “ducksitter” youth volunteer to get their service learning hours in by priming and attaching a “keel” for little hands to hold onto while painting. The keels we use are actually pieces from a Jenga game hot glued on to give a real decoy feel as well as something for the kiddos to hold on to.

Chairmen should paint a few samples of the bird so they can figure out the best order to instruct the painting, special features of the bird to highlight, and order for the colors to paint. Photos of the bird in their environment should also be sent to the office for printing for each table.


We have tubs of paint brushes, easels, and misc supplies that need to be picked through and updated annually for wear and tear. Replacements and unique paint colors for the year will need to be ordered. The office can either reimburse you or you may send specific online links for them to order directly for you. There will also be kraft paper to cover the tables and sign up tickets for the children supplied by the middle school. 


This is a great job for a few ducksitters to help with by pouring and distributing paint and supplies, however the art room this is hosted in can get pretty crowded with parents, strollers and “kid stuff.” Parents also usually assist their own children through the activity. Ducksitters can be requested through the office in a form distributed in September.

Security Chairman

Sort of along the lines of “Night at the Museum,” only hopefully with no exhibits coming to life! While some exhibits are watched overnight by the Easton Police Department and Civil Air Patrol, others are volunteer run. This position organizes all to make sure venues are covered and has the advantage of being after hours and not missing any of the Festival excitement!

Past Chairmen:This vacant position has been done by Leslie in the office. Dave Renshaw has done it in the past before that but not at a chairman level.

Timeline: In late summer, check in with chairmen of Art, Sporting and other venues requiring security. From there, create a “signup genius” schedule to distribute to past volunteers and new volunteers to choose their slot.  When filled, send the schedule out to chairmen of who they can expect. During the Festival, security starts Wednesday with the last shifts being Sunday morning. The chair will need to be on call especially when shifts are starting.

Volunteers: There are two longtime volunteers who have always been willing to take a shift or two. Ducksitters or volunteers under 21 are not eligible for this position unless volunteering with their parents. 

Sign Chairman

This Chairman position requires some brawn and preferably a truck. It could even be a family with older teenagers or youth club or group.

Past Chairmen: Ron Engle

This position works with Leslie in the office, who compiles a listing of sign changes from all venue & info guide chairs as well as the marketing team, though direct contact with chairs is sometimes needed. Venues often evolve- “Art at the Academy” has morphed to “Carving at the Auditorium” for example.


Sometime in the summer- There is currently a very dated excel spreadsheet of all signs that needs to be revamped. This will be a day project to visit warehouse and flip though and sort signs. Signs that need to be fixed or updated can go to Morton’s or we’ve had a graphic guy contact us about coming right out to the warehouse to do updates We also are switching out some signs for ease- wood for mesh, steel frame for flag like, and using foam core rather than refacing.

Festival- This position has windows of time needed pre Festival, the week or two before to hang highway signs,  the Wednesday and Thursday of Festival week and Sunday starting at three when the Festival is wrapping up