Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue has many different programs for volunteers to choose from where they can contribute their time, talent and experience. We require a minimum of 4 hours a week of commitment from our volunteers for a 12-month time period. After your 12 months are complete, we invite you to re-commit on a month-to-month basis.
The main requirement for a volunteer is to follow through with your commitment to the organization. The animals and people in our organization are dependent upon the volunteers scheduled for their agreed upon commitments. Again, we require 4 hours a week minimum and for you to follow through with this for a 12 month time period. We have had to implement the 3 strikes and you’re out philosophy because of the intense amount of time and energy it takes to train and supervise staff and volunteers.
We look forward to meeting you at our annual volunteer orientation, which takes place in January, and hopefully working with you in the future! As this is only offered once a year, THERE IS LIMITED SPACE AVAILABLE. All interested parties will need to fill out an application. The application process will help you to understand the commitment you will be making and the tasks we may ask you to do.
Please add this event to your calendar now, as it is only offered once a year, regularly the first Saturday in January from 10:00am to 4:00pm. There is a bundle of three, two-hour classes that are required to volunteer with our non-profit, Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue. Please email Kelsey James our Volunteer and Community Support Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have further questions or would like to be added to our mandatory new volunteer class registration. A completed application must be submitted for enrollment in our volunteer orientation.
There is a $150 one-time administrative fee for this class for families and includes 2 volunteer t-shirts and 2 name badges. Additional T-shirts and badges for additional members are $10 per additional person.
The one-time administrative fee is $95 for single volunteers.
After the training, everyone will schedule an appropriate time to have their pictures taken for their identification badge and be given a uniform t-shirt. Below is what you can expect to learn from each of the three classes you will be taking.
New Volunteer Orientation
This class will provide you with generalized information about our organization. We will discuss our culture, expectations, facility, and volunteer requirements. What exactly do we do? Why are we here? Would this organization be a good fit for you? Discover the answers to these questions and many more in our New Volunteer Orientation.
Policies and Regulations
We operate under a license from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Being involved in our organization mean familiarizing yourself with the policies and regulations we abide by. In this informative class, we will cover our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and our various Animal Care and Multimedia use policies.
Introduction to Wildlife:
This is an extensive class that covers the general fundamentals of wildlife rehabilitation. From hospital work, to correct personal protective gear, to various other animal related tasks, this intensive class will prepare you for professional animal care in the field of wildlife rehabilitation.
After taking this 6 hour block of classes, you should be “administratively” trained on the basics here at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue. It will require many hours of “hands on” training to feel completely comfortable with the unique, diverse and specialized skill sets to work in the professional field of wildlife rehabilitation. This is what you will gain through your 4 hours a week and 12 month time with us.
Staff and volunteers are mostly all cross trained in the many areas of need here at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue. Unless you have serious limitations that would keep you from helping in any of the following areas, you will be placed where you are needed the most on your designated shift.
Here are the following areas that we place staff and volunteers to serve our wildlife needs:
Administrative: Volunteers do a variety of administrative duties such as mailings, record keeping, fundraising assistance, membership service, public relations, computer help, and more. This is a very important area for the survival of S.C.W.R. You may be working in the office doing receptionist work, animal intake, and public education.
Barn Owl Maintenance Program (BOMP): Helping out with our growing Barn Owl Maintenance Program. You will be asked to go on site to do field research and maintenance with other trained individuals. Barn Owls are a beautiful, natural way to remove pests and contribute to the local ecosystem and our growing program will soon require more hands on help.
Facility Maintenance: Our large facility takes a lot of work to keep up, and having a beautiful place for the rehabilitation of wildlife is important to us. Facility Maintenance would include routine and seasonal chores as well as special projects. There are always things to do to improve and maintain our facility and you will most likely be called upon to help from time to time.
Predator Prevention and Education Barnyard (PEEP): The Predator Exclusion and Educational Program (PEEP) is an innovative interactive educational program designed to help people with conflicts between domestic and wild animals. By providing a physical learning lab, students and members of the community can learn ways to protect their livestock and pets from natural predation in ways that do not harm wildlife, so the ecology of the region can remain balanced. You may be asked to assist in our PEEP program or to assist the PEEP instructor in her tasks.
Rescue Team: It is not always possible for the Hotline Staff to pick up or receive an orphaned or injured animal. The Hotline Staff has a list of current volunteers whom they may call upon to pick up or receive animals during the rescuer's designated shift. These volunteers may also respond to critical or trauma patients that need immediate medical attention. We also will occasionally need volunteers to transport an animal to one of our local vets or other wildlife rehabilitation centers. Should you be interested in our Rescue Team, you will make a commitment to our organization to make sure you are available during your designated shift. Should you fail to respond to a rescue more than three times, you will be removed.
Wildlife Community: Here volunteers get a chance to work with wildlife that are on the last phase of rehabilitation before release back to the wild. You will also take care of the residents in the Education Exhibit Area. You may be caring for coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, squirrels, etc. In addition to this, you will be keeping the wildlife kitchen clean and organized, and doing various other chores to keep the Wildlife Community beautiful for the animals during their stay with SCWR.
Wildlife Docent: Strong public speaking skills will be put to use here! From time to time you may be asked to docent a tour at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue. Educating the public about wildlife and the importance of wildlife to our ecology is a large part of our mission statement and your help would be necessary and much appreciated in this capacity.
Wildlife Garden: We have worked very hard in developing our Wildlife Education Garden to show predator proofing techniques against garden pests and ways to attract pollinators. We also have developed a Garden Club Program, which is a working CSA. We need all the help we can get watering and caring for our Wildlife Education Garden, as well as marketing our Garden Club.
Wildlife Hospital: This is a group of volunteers who work with animals in distress or that need medical attention. They are also the support group for the foster care volunteers who might need assistance with medical needs or need site visits. Often these volunteers have a background in veterinary medicine or a lot of experience working with wildlife, but that is not a requirement.
Wildlife Kitchen: This is where you will be trained to prepare diets for our community of wildlife ambassadors and wildlife in rehabilitation. Raw meat diets are utilized to feed a majority of our wildlife and we expect our volunteers to be professional and comfortable with preparing rodents, birds, and other items for our animals.
As noted above, there are limited exceptions to attending our annual January volunteer registration.
If you do not want to wait for this annual training and would like to get started right away, we offer selected opportunities. Training and supervision in these selected areas of opportunity are very limited, so it would require a real self-starter who does not need much assistance. Here are the areas we always and immediately need your help:
Gardening: Maintaining a healthy, thriving garden is a year-round experience. If you have a green thumb, or if you would like to learn about how to maintain a garden, we would love to have your help! Watering, planting, and general garden care are all appreciated and needed.
Vehicle cleaning: It takes lots of vehicle power to perform the community outreach, rescue, and other imperative work we do. Having a presentable, clean and well working vehicle is important. Our trucks are often seen around the community and we like to put our best foot forward.
Laundry: There is always laundry to do, especially in the summer months and during baby season (February to September). Having clean laundry available ensures we can provide high quality care to our wildlife patients. We need all the help we can get with our at times overflowing laundry.
Facility maintenance both inside and outside: Including laundry, we always need help with dishes, general cleaning, maintaining clean floors, shaking out rugs, taking trash to the landfill, cleaning office areas, and garden care. If you have housekeeping experience, we would love to utilize your expertise.
We want to make sure you understand that direct “hands on” work with wildlife requires a lot of special training and close supervision in addition to the 3, two hour classes mentioned above. It requires a major commitment from the staff to train and supervise a new volunteer to the level that they can work directly with wildlife. Since our staff time is very limited, we have changed our policies to reflect the new requirements for volunteers. In addition you must still attend the annual training to work “hands-on” with our wildlife patients.
Scholarships are available for those with financial need. Please click here for the application form.
Community Service Process
Since community service tends to be a commitment that is usually defined as a one-time event or a requirement of limited time, we have specific areas of need that are more appropriate to fulfilling a person’s community service requirements. Training and supervision in these areas are very limited, so it would require a real self-starter who does not need much assistance. You will be doing such things as gardening, laundry, and cleaning. For more information, click here.
Volunteers with Specific or One Time Only Contributions
We realize and value that there are many members of our community that have special talents, life-skills, gifted skills, business professionals with areas of expertise that could benefit Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue. We have worked with many of you in the past and will always need those of you who can only volunteer for one time projects.
We do not require the same training, administrative fees, or time from you as we do of our other volunteers. We recognize that your time is much more fleeting and want to accommodate your contributions to us quickly and easily. If you are in any of the following areas, this process applies to us. In recognition of a special skill or talent that might have been over-looked in this list, this applies to you as well.
Graphic Artist or Designer
Finally, if any of you are wondering about why we ask you to participate in our classes and training, we are required by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide professional training to all of our volunteers and keep a record of those volunteers and the training they have completed. We submit this list to the Department by January 31st, every year. This is a mandatory requirement for which we are responsible in order to keep our permits to rehabilitate wildlife in the State of California.
We also have our own organization’s training requirements mandated by our Board of Directors and insurance providers. We take these commitments very serious and are unable to adjust any of these requirements for any individuals who may request us to do so.
We have spent many years working with volunteers who want to help wildlife and have discovered that the amount of training, time and commitment is often more than the volunteer expects - even by volunteers who have the best of intentions. If you really love animals and our organization does not seem like the right fit for you, here is a list of other great non-profit organizations in Sonoma County that we would like to recommend to you:
Bird Rescue Center:
Flat Broke Farm:
Native Songbird Care and Conservation
Rohnert Park Animal Shelter:
Sonoma County Humane Society
You can also get more information on volunteering in Sonoma County by calling the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County:
Thank you for your interest in volunteerism!
Our next Orientation will be held on January 8, 2022. Please read through all volunteer information prior to applying.
Applications for the January 2022 Volunteer Orientation are due on December 15, 2021 to allow time for review.