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Opportunity Details


Age Minimum (with Adult): 18+, Minimum Age:18+, Orientation Required

Coastal Monitoring - Norton Point

Opportunity Overview: 
Crucial for variety of ecological and social reasons, barrier beaches are also dynamic systems subject to constant change. Climate change and associated sea level rise add to the volatility of these important places. To better understand the processes affecting the beaches we manage, The Trustees are looking for volunteers interested in collecting beach profile data on Martha’s Vineyard. Beach profiling measures the contour of the beach and how it changes over time. Ultimately these data will illustrate long-term trends in erosion and accretion, shaping beach management decisions and informing beachgoers and other stakeholders about how the beach is changing.    


Following brief training in a beach profiling technique known as the Emery Method (a simple measurement system using measurement stakes, rope, and the horizon), volunteers will collect profile data at permanent profile transects near access points to the beach. Transects run from the dune to the waterline, and elevation measurements are taken every three meters using the rope and stakes. Volunteers will conduct monthly surveys during the peak low tides throughout the year. Data collected during surveys will be entered into a Google documents database, and then synthesized by Trustees ecologists.     

Reports To: Matt Pelikan, Coastal Ecologist, Islands 

Responsibilities (may include but are not limited to the following):  
  • Work in teams to conduct monthly beach profile surveys 
  • Record data on provided data sheets and promptly enter data into a Google documents database  
  • Data collection at appropriate point in tidal cycle, regardelss of weather conditions 
  • Coordinate with other profiling team members for survey date and time 
  • Contact Trustees’ staff to give feedback, ask questions, learn more, alert to any issues or challenges 
  • Be an ambassador to the public, answer questions about beach profiling  
  • Adhere to The Trustees safety and COVID-19 protocols
  • Prompt reporting of service hours on Trustees Volunteer Connect 
  • Interest in ecology, the environment, coastal resiliency, sandy beach habitats  
  • Knowledge or interest in citizen science, and ability to follow a set procedure 
  • Desire to help The Trustees track beach morphology and make an impact in The Trustees’ Coastal Resiliency efforts 
  • Ability to walk short to moderate distances on soft sand and conduct field work for as much as 2 hours at a time.  
  • Ability/willingness to work in all weather conditions  
  • Adequate eyesight to be able to take measurements 
  • Ability to record data both on paper and on digital platforms 
  • Interest in working on a beach environment and engaging with the public  
Time Commitment:  
  • 1-2 hours, during a specific time range (peak low tides of the month) once a month throughout the year.  

To apply or receive more information: Contact Marc Mahan at  


About the Trustees:  

Founded by landscape architect Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees has, for more than 125 years, been a catalyst for important ideas, endeavors, and progress in Massachusetts. As a steward of distinctive and dynamic places of both historic and cultural value, The Trustees is the nation’s first preservation and conservation organization, and its landscapes and landmarks continue to inspire discussion, innovation, and action today as they did in the past. We are a nonprofit, supported by members, friends and donors and our 120 sites are destinations for residents, members, and visitors alike, welcoming millions of guests annually. 


The Trustees is committed to a policy of non-discrimination and equal employment opportunity for all employees and qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, age, military service, application for military service, veteran status, physical or mental disability, genetic information, or any other status protected by applicable law. The Trustees makes reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with known disabilities, in accordance with applicable law. 

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Volunteers needed through 10/1/2025

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