Volunteer Opportunities

Smiling women in front of oyster cages


Get involved with ORP. Whether you’re looking for an individual or group activity, a short or long-term opportunity to make a difference in the Chesapeake Bay, we have volunteering needs throughout the year and appreciate your willingness to help! Interested in scheduling an activity?Contact us at events@oysterrecovery.org.


Marylanders Grow Oysters (MGO)

Man standing on dock pulls oyster cage out of waterDonate your time and effort to support your local tributary by being a caretaker for  millions of young oysters during their most vulnerable first year of life! Each year, in late summer, you will receive cages with spat-on-shell to hang from your dock (or your community’s dock). You will maintain the oysters throughout the cold months, then – in late spring – they will be collected and planted on sanctuary reefs in your local tributary. Your home tributary must have enough salinity to support oyster growth and survival. There is no fee to participate other than your commitment. Learn more: mdgrowoysters.org.


Shell Recycling Runs

Oyster shell recycling. Oyster shells in trash can on dolly.Ride along and assist our Shell Recycling Alliance staff with collecting oyster shells from area restaurants. Oyster shell is the best material to rebuild reefs and it is in short supply. We recycle shell and age it, then – about a year later – it is seeded with baby oysters and planted in the Chesapeake Bay. Shell Recycling collection runs happen weekly throughout the year, M-F, 8 AM-4 PM, departing from ORP’s Annapolis office. This is a full-day commitment where you are likely to get dirty. Heavy lifting is required. You can volunteer for one pick-up at a time, or to go on several.

Opportunities also exist for you to start recycling shell in communities that we are not currently servicing. Help is needed in southern, central, and western Maryland. Contact us for information about how to launch a local chapter of ORP’s Shell Recycling Alliance.



Mermaids and ORPs mascot Shelley at Mermaid's Kiss event.Are you a people-person who enjoys public and social events? We participate in dozens every year, and can use help with everything from logistics, to registration, to entertaining guests as Shelly, ORP’s mascot. Events include those sponsored by ORP, as well as community events where ORP is invited to participate. For a current list, visit our Events page.

Would you like to organize an event to support oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay? We would love to work with you! Whether you’re looking to sponsor an ORP speaker, or for assistance with planning or hosting an ORP fundraiser, we can help. Reach out and let us know what you have in mind.


Special Projects

Please contact us to discuss special projects for Eagle Scouts, high school service learning, and other community service opportunities. Examples include building Shell Sheds to house shell recycling cans, cleaning and maintaining equipment, etc.



Shell Pile Clean-up

Oyster shell pile clean-up eventThe shells we collect from restaurants often include undesirable company… In fact, you would be amazed at what we have to remove from shell before cleaning and returning it to the Chesapeake Bay – everything from dinner plates and utensils, to plastics, and much more. Cleaning the shell pile is another ideal outdoor group activity that can be a fun and entertaining way to get involved. Think Shell Pile BINGO complete with prizes! For this activity, your team must be able to meet us in Grasonville, MD.


Cage Building

Oyster cages built by volunteersEach year, ORP distributes thousands of cages to people participating in the Marylanders Grow Oysters program. One hundred percent of cages are built by hand by volunteers (cages are 18” long by one foot wide). Cage building is an ideal group activity, often done as an assembly line, and can be done in a fun, friendly, competitive way. Groups typically build 50-100 cages over the course of a half-day.



Oysters forever!

Shell Bagging

Oyster shell bagging volunteer eventEach year, ORP distributes thousands of plastic mesh bags filled with oyster shells to the Marylanders Grow Oysters program and Maryland’s aquaculture industry. The most efficient way to bag shell is by hand with a large group of volunteers. Best done outdoors, shell bagging is a fun group activity that’s sure to get the blood flowing! Depending on group size, shell bagging can take 1-2 hours.