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August 27, 2013

Volunteer at South Florida Wildlife Center

Get involved in one of the many roles at our center

  • Volunteer Jamie Laufgas helps with baby squirrel feedings. The HSUS

  • Volunteer Marilynn Elsbernd helps care for our duckling. The HSUS

About our volunteers

Volunteers at the South Florida Wildlife Center (SFWC) are a vital and valuable component of the South Florida Wildlife Center's mission to rescue, rehabilitate, and release Florida's native wildlife. We are inspired by our volunteers' dedication to the community responsibility of caring for our native wildlife. Their passion for and allegiance to animals is contagious. In 2012, our volunteers donated more than 29,000 hours of service and helped us care for more than 12,500 animals.

South Florida Wildlife Center location

The South Florida Wildlife Center is located in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Volunteer opportunities

Admissions Assistant: Communicate by phone and in person with the public, complete intake of animals in need of assistance, provide education regarding humane coexistence with wildlife and responsible pet ownership, comfort the public when bringing in or reporting an animal in distress, and assist with data entry.

Ambulance Assistant: Use your prior experience as an emergency responder (such as firefighter, police, EMS, or Animal Control Officer) to assist the SFWC’s ambulance driver in animal rescues.

Animal Care: Assist with the care of our sick and injured adult wildlife and certain domestics by helping with dishes, laundry, general clean-up, diet prep, and cleaning cages; consistent volunteers are able to work hands-on with the animals.

Data Entry/Medical Notation Assistant: Enter medical notes from animals' cage cards into computer database.

Greeter: Provide an initial positive experience to visitors entering our shelter by greeting them and offering them information and assistance.

Grounds Maintenance and Landscaping: Help keep our grounds healthy by performing various grounds-keeping activities such as trimming, pruning, mulching, and weeding.

Housekeeping Assistant: Assist in folding clean laundry, putting away clean laundry, and helping with general tidying.

Maintenance Assistant: Assist in a variety of maintenance projects throughout the center, including animal habitat and enclosure repair, and help build new habitats.

Nursery Assistant: Care for the baby animals during "baby season" from March to October by helping with dishes, laundry, general clean-up, diet prep, and cleaning cages; consistent volunteers are able to work hands-on with the animals.

Rescue Team: Use your own method of transportation to locate, securely contain, and bring injured orphaned wildlife to the SFWC to be treated.

Volunteer Leader: Help develop the volunteer program at SFWC by participating in a volunteer leadership team, helping to deliver volunteer orientations and training, and helping to engage volunteers more fully in the work at the center.

What our volunteers say

I love animals … and when you volunteer here you get the satisfaction of being able to help and see the wildlife thrive. I would definitely recommend it to others, it's so rewarding. Building relationships with the staff and being a part of all the good work alone make it worth it. —Marilynn Elsbernd

When I retired I always said I would volunteer. I love animals and chose to work with wildlife so I wouldn’t bring anything home. The satisfaction of helping and feeling virtuous when I leave is why I volunteer. I’ve told everyone I know about volunteering at the South Florida Wildlife Center—it's fun and you feel good when you leave. Everyone here is so hard working and I know you could really use the help. —Sharon White

Benefits of volunteering

Our volunteers have a very unique opportunity here at the South Florida Wildlife Center. They get to be a part of one of the largest wildlife trauma hospitals in the U.S., seeing about 250 different species a year. This is one of the few places in south Florida where you have the chance to work hands-on with our wild neighbors. Volunteers leave here having the knowledge and ability to help any injured or orphaned wild animal they may come in contact with.

Becoming a volunteer

Commitment policies:

  • Volunteers make a weekly commitment.
  • Student volunteers (ages 14 to 17) must complete 40 hours within 3 months with consistent weekly shifts. Community service paperwork for school will not be signed until completion of 40 hours.
  • Adult volunteers (18+) commit to one weekly shift for a minimum of 3 months.

Age restrictions:
Young people under 14 are not allowed to volunteer on the SFWC property.

Students 14 and 15 years old:

  • Must attend orientation with a parent or guardian.
  • Must have their parent or legal guardian accompany them at all times while volunteering with the SFWC. Parent partners make the same commitment as their teens.
  • Are required to complete 40 accompanied hours in three (3) months.
  • Will get school paperwork signed upon completion of 40 hours.
  • Must have a parents call the center to report any absences or missed shifts.
  • Must purchase a volunteer t-shirt (as will the parent) allowing access to our facility ($10 each).

Students 16 and 17 years old:

  • Must attend orientation with a parent.
  • Are allowed to volunteer unaccompanied by parent/legal guardian; may not leave the property during the shift.
  • Are required to complete 40 hours in three (3) months.
  • Will get school paperwork signed upon completion of 40 hours.
  • Must purchase a volunteer t-shirt ($10) in order to have access to our facility.
  • Must have a parent call us if sick or unable to volunteer.

Other restrictions

  • Volunteers must meet the requirements outlined in the essential capabilities document.
  • We do not accept any court-ordered community service.
  • All volunteers must successfully complete a criminal background check.


  • Please review the description and restrictions above to help determine if our volunteer opportunities are the right fit. If you would like to proceed, please fill out the volunteer application.
  • After review of your application, a staff person will contact you to schedule an orientation.
  • Before becoming an official volunteer, you must pass a criminal background check, sign a volunteer agreement, and a waiver/release of liability.

Fill out a volunteer application now »

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