Volunteer Opportunities

Interested in volunteering at the Wildlife Center of Virginia?

The Wildlife Center cannot fulfill its mission without the help of the many dedicated volunteers who play a vital role in assisting patients as well as sharing the Center’s message.

Volunteering with the Wildlife Center

Volunteers can serve in many different ways, depending on their interests, availability, and the needs of the Center. Opportunities include Outreach, Veterinary, and Animal Transport. Volunteers can choose to serve in more than one area! Review the main sections below to read more about each area, including information on how to apply.

Veterinary Volunteers

vet volunteerThere are a variety of ways for volunteers to serve in the Center's veterinary department, depending on interests, availability, and the needs of the Center. Interested applicants can find a description of each area below, as well as requirements and availability. Due to shift restrictions in some areas, volunteer positions will not always be available.

Status:  Accepting applications starting September 1 - 30, 2024, with an online volunteer orientation (via Zoom) on October 26. 

Volunteers work with a team for scheduled shifts throughout the day that they set for themselves. Preferred shifts are in the morning from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm and in the evening from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm. However, we understand that volunteers are donating their time to us, so there is some flexibility with these time frames. We understand schedules change and appreciate the time you are willing to donate.

Prior animal handling experience is not required for volunteering. We will happily train you!

Minimum Requirements to Apply
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must have health insurance
  • Must be up-to-date on tetanus vaccination
  • Purchase a volunteer shirt ($9 for short sleeve, $12 for long sleeve)
  • Be able to commit to at least two volunteer shifts per month.
  • Up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination. 

Find out more about becoming a veterinary volunteer at the Wildlife Center:

Hospital Volunteers

Hospital Volunteers assist staff and veterinarians with the care of wildlife patients. Hospital volunteers help with a variety of tasks including preparing meals, cleaning cages, washing dishes, cleaning floors, and disinfecting counters, among other tasks. Responsibilities increase with experience and demonstrated commitment. There are two types of team assignments for volunteers in the Hospital:

Rehabilitation Team

Pre-exposure rabies vaccination is required and a rabies titer check every two years is required to work hands-on with mammals. Those not vaccinated for rabies may still work hands-on with birds and reptiles.

Volunteers will work closely with the rehabilitation staff as they perform daily tasks, including but not limited to:

  • Meal preparation and daily feeding/watering
  • Cleaning, hosing, and scrubbing pens of all animals housed indoors and outdoors
  • Assist staff with capture and restraint of patients
  • Record weights and food intake
  • Cage set-up
  • Help hand-feed orphaned wildlife
  • Help in the daily exercise of raptors
  • Help with the care of our patient reptiles
  • Help with the care of our education reptiles
  • Assist with maintaining a clean and organized facility
Treatment Team

Pre-exposure rabies vaccination is required and a rabies titer check every two years is required to work hands-on with mammals. Those who are not rabies vaccinated may still work hands-on with birds and reptiles.

Volunteers will work closely with the veterinary staff as they perform daily tasks including, but not limited to:

  • Cleaning, hosing, and scrubbing enclosures of all animals housed indoors and outdoors
  • Assist staff with capture and restraint of patients
  • Assist veterinary staff with daily medical treatments and record-keeping
  • Assist veterinary staff with medication and supplies inventory
  • Assist with maintaining a clean and organized facility
  • Performing basic diagnostic tests

Housekeeping Volunteers

Housekeeping volunteers assist with keeping the facility clean and organized. Daily tasks include, but not limited to:

  • Cleaning and disinfecting crates for patients
  • Sorting, folding, and putting away clean laundry
  • Washing dishes and disinfecting counters
  • Sweeping, mopping, and other daily cleaning tasks around the hospital

The application window and subsequent volunteer orientations occur quarterly. After the application window closes, staff review materials and contact applicants for interviews.  Volunteer orientations are held over Zoom; volunteer training can begin following the orientation. Ready to apply? 

Fill out a volunteer application 

Transport / Rescue Volunteers

volunteer transporterThe Wildlife Center receives many calls from members of the public who want to help rescue wildlife, but are unable to transport the animal. Volunteer transporters provide a vital, life-saving service to both the Wildlife Center and the community by facilitating the rescue/transport of wild animals.

If a citizen calls and needs transporting assistance, a Center front-desk coordinator will determine the best course of action for the animal in need. If rescue/transport is needed, the front-desk coordinator will give the rescuer names and phone numbers for three to six volunteer transporters. The citizen rescuer contacts these transporters to see who is available to transport the animal to the Wildlife Center (or another designated closer permitted rehabilitator). Transporters are always free to tell a caller that they are unavailable, knowing that the caller has been given other transporter numbers.

Volunteer transporters are only expected to transport animals that have already been contained by the original rescuer, and are not required to bring any additional equipment or containers for transport.  Volunteers who choose to assist in the capture and containment of animals do so at their own risk, and should only attempt containing an animal if they have the appropriate PPE and experience.

Requirements: Transporters must have a valid driver’s license and be willing to drive contained, injured or orphaned wild animals to/from the Center in their own vehicle. Transporters must agree to follow the recommended guidelines and policies provided by the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Status: Transporters from all over the state of Virginia are always needed, but especially so in the following areas:

  • Alleghany Highlands
  • Eastern Shore
  • Greater Richmond area
  • Middle Peninsula
  • Northern Neck
  • Southside Virginia
  • Southwest Virginia
  • Abingdon
  • Amherst County
  • Bedford
  • Blacksburg
  • Buckingham County
  • Charlottesville/Albemarle County*
  • Covington
  • Culpeper
  • Danville
  • Emporia
  • Farmville
  • Fluvanna County
  • Goochland County
  • Harrisonburg
  • Lexington
  • Louisa
  • Lynchburg*
  • Madison/Greene Counties
  • Martinsville
  • Richmond (city)*
  • Scottsville
  • Stafford County
  • Wytheville

*Strong need for volunteers in these areas.

Fill out a volunteer application

Once we receive your application, the front-desk staff will email applicants with additional information. Unless otherwise specified, applicants will be added to the active referral list immediately. New transport volunteers may receive calls from the public for transport assistance right away, or it may be several months until the first call.

Outreach Volunteers

Outreach volunteer at workThe Outreach Department’s mission is to share conservation messages drawn directly from the stories of the thousands of wild animals we treat each year at the Wildlife Center. The stories of these animals illustrate the wider problems wildlife face — litter, pesticides, free-roaming domestic animals, habitat loss, and diseases.

Our programs promote positive attitudes toward wildlife and emphasize how the personal choices we make affect the health of the environment. Through our outreach efforts, we challenge people of all ages to take action to protect wildlife. Outreach docents are key players that help us achieve our mission of “teaching the world about wildlife.” They help us to maintain important connections with the public and our community of support.

Our team of outreach volunteers helps to communicate our conservation messages to thousands of people each year to diverse groups — from scout troops and elementary school students, to Master Naturalists and wildlife professionals.

Status: We're not currently accepting new outreach docents, but feel free to apply for one of the other volunteer positions!

Basic responsibilities and privileges for Outreach volunteers
  • Assisting with tours of the Center’s hospital and education animal enclosures, including seasonal Open House events
  • Participating in special events hosted by the Center, on- and off-site
  • Staying up to date on Center happenings, patient stories, education animal rosters, and staff-led education hours
  • Delivering online educational programs for public and private groups
  • Contributing written content to be featured on the Center’s website, such as blog posts, Caring for Critters updates, and social media posts

In addition to these primary responsibilities, volunteer docents may work closely with the outreach staff to provide regularly scheduled care for a number of the Center’s non-releasable education ambassadors depending on interests, availability, and current departmental needs, including:

  • Meal preparation and delivery, and/or feeding
  • Deep cleaning of indoor and outdoor enclosures, regular cleaning and maintenance of traveling crates, and perch maintenance
  • Weekly recording of animal weights and body conditions, food intake, and behavioral assessments
  • Creating and delivering enrichment items
  • Collecting and digitally archiving detailed records

To be a part of the Outreach team, docents must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be comfortable with speaking in public, or be willing to learn
  • Be able to walk or stand for extended periods of time
  • Have availability that coordinates with the Center’s needs, which may fluctuate seasonally

Additional requirements: Education programs and tours are scheduled on a case-by-case basis, occasionally with less than three weeks’ notice; ideal candidates are flexible in their availability.

Thanks for your interest in volunteering with the Wildlife Center of Virginia!