About our volunteers
Volunteers and interns offer invaluable support to The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center (FFAWC) in Ramona, Calif. All volunteers, regardless of area of focus, assist us with our efforts to rescue, rehabilitate, and release native wildlife. Volunteers work independently and in groups, on weekdays and weekends. There are numerous educational opportunities available to our volunteers, whether for personal growth or to aid in building a résumé full of animal husbandry and welfare skills.
Although no animal experience is required, knowledge of local wildlife and/or animal handling skills are highly valued.
The FFAWC is located in northeast San Diego county in Ramona, Calif.
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Click on role title to view an expanded position description. All downloadable files are PDFs unless otherwise indicated.
Cage Building: Assist staff in designing new cages and aid in the maintenance and repair of existing cages.
Data Entry/Office Assistant: Provide administrative support to staff by helping with common office duties such as data entry, photocopying and answering phones.
Direct Care—Domestic Cats: Work with our San Nicolas Island cat colony to provide them with a clean and healthy home, and spend quiet time grooming and socializing with the cats to promote their adoptability.
Direct Care—Wildlife: Assist our knowledgeable staff in the daily rounds of both rehab and sanctuary animals by helping to clean the enclosures, prepare diets, and engage the animals in enrichment and operant condition training. Note that all wildlife care volunteers are required to start with domestic cats and complete basic training requirements before being promoted to wildlife areas.
Horticulture and Garden Team: Maintain healthy foliage in and around the animal enclosures, keep our current gardens flourishing, and help design and install new plantings to provide essential and proper enrichment and environmental stimuli to our animals.
Many other opportunities exist to help out! Want to assist with transporting an animal for a release? How about running a game at one of our fundraisers? You could teach the public how to live peacefully with wildlife at a local farmer’s market. Or maybe you have a special talent for taking beautiful photographs of animals or you know how to make engaging PowerPoints we can use at conferences. Complete an application today and tell us how you think you can best assist our work and if you don’t fit into an existing opportunity, we might just be able to make one customized to you!
What our volunteers say
I am so thankful that volunteering at The Fund fulfills a lifelong desire to assist in assuring that wild animals continue to populate the wild places that are so vital in maintaining our connection to our natural world. —Rob Roberto, volunteering since 1994
Volunteering at the Wildlife Center is one of the most, if not the most, rewarding experiences of my life. Caring for these precious animals is so important, to see them healthy again and returned to the wild fills my heart. —Judy Ketner, volunteering since April 2014
Benefits of volunteering
When you become a FFAWC volunteer, you’re giving the animals what they need most: personal attention, direct care, beautiful safe enclosures, clean beds and a healthy meal. Whether you volunteer for three months, three years, or three decades, the animals at the FFAWC truly appreciate the time and effort you spend with them. Your volunteer experience can be as laid-back or as active as you like.
Volunteer activities include spending quiet time carefully observing animal behaviors, teaching a bobcat to enter a carrier on cue, assisting an injured hawk in learning how to fly again, or even tending to an orphaned skunk. Volunteers can also take on more challenging activities and learn new skills by pairing up with professionals in assisting with rescues, re-nesting, landscaping, cage construction, medical examinations, equipment repair and more.
Becoming a volunteer
- Volunteers for most roles are asked to commit to a regular reoccurring shift for a minimum of 100 total hours, with no fewer than 9 service hours per month.
- We accommodate various starting times throughout the work day (8 a.m. - 6 p.m.), seven days per week.
- Standard shifts are 3 or 4 hours in length and custom shifts can be created for most assignments.
- Volunteers can schedule to work up to 20 hours per week.
- Volunteers may sign up to participate in one-day events and special projects in addition to their regular commitment.
- Although 18 years of age is required for most volunteer positions, we will accept applicants as young as 16 for limited projects and programs, which we will discuss on an individual basis.
- Volunteers wishing to work with mammals in our rehabilitation program must have proof of a pre-exposure rabies vaccination series or sign a waiver.
- Volunteers must meet the requirements outlined in the Essential Capabilities document.
- We recommend all volunteers and interns have a current tetanus inoculation.
- We cannot accommodate court-ordered community service at our center.
- Volunteers must pass a criminal background check.
- Carefully review the application and position descriptions and make sure you can make the minimum time commitment before applying. Please note our facility’s location and any travel arrangements you may need to make before applying as a volunteer. There are NO public transportation options, and it is not recommended that volunteers select this site without a personal vehicle or previously arranged carpooling.
- Fill out the volunteer application online. Note: You'll be asked to upload your completed Essential Capabilities document when you apply.
- You will be contacted by our staff about upcoming orientation dates; these are usually offered every month but fill up 60-90 days in advance.
Upcoming 2015 orientation dates:
- If, after the site visit, we mutually determine this opportunity is a good fit, you will be asked fill out a form authorizing the background check.
- Following the completion of the background check, a nominal set-up/training fee of $25 will be due to establish a new volunteer’s online profile in our training program(s) and to cover the costs of the first volunteer t-shirt. (These fees may be waived upon request if they would cause a barrier to an applicant’s ability to become a volunteer; please contact us directly if you would like to discuss the training fees.)
- Before your first shift, you will be asked to sign a volunteer agreement and a waiver and release of liability.
- Training takes place in multiple ways; online courses, written workbooks and hands-on workshops will be arranged for all volunteers to complete the required training. There are dozens of opportunities for optional participation in advanced trainings.
- Volunteers must adhere to a strict dress code for safety and security; details will be provided during orientation.