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August 25, 2015

Volunteer at South Florida Wildlife Center

Get involved in one of the many roles at our center

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

  • Volunteers take part in projects all over the center, such as building this new aviary. Photo by Jessica Sayre/The SFWC

About our volunteers

The volunteers at the South Florida Wildlife Center are vital and valuable components 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 communal responsibility of caring for our native wildlife. Their passion for and allegiance to animals is contagious. In 2014, our volunteers donated more than 25,000 hours of service and helped us care for more than 12,000 animals.


South Florida Wildlife Center location

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

Volunteer opportunities

We have a variety of ways you can get involved with our work, including some of the opportunities listed below:

Animal Care: Assist with the care of our sick and injured wildlife and certain domestics by helping with dishes, general clean-up, food prep and cleaning cages; consistent volunteers with at least 50 hours of service are able to work more directly with the animals, under staff supervision.

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

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

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

Nursery Assistant: Help us care for the baby animals 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: Use your own method of transportation to locate, securely contain, and bring injured and/or orphaned wildlife to the SFWC to be treated.

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 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 for our wild neighbors. Volunteers leave here with an understanding of how to help injured and orphaned wildlife.

Becoming a volunteer

Commitment policies:

  • Volunteers make a 3-hour weekly commitment.
  • Student volunteers (ages 16 and 17) must complete 40 hours within 3 months with consistent 3-hour weekly shifts. Paperwork for school will not be signed until completion of 40 hours.
  • Adult volunteers (18+) commit to one weekly 3-hour shift for a minimum of 3 months.

Age restrictions:
Young people under 16 are not allowed to volunteer on the SFWC property unless it is a special Volunteer Day or Volunteer Weekend project.

Students ages 16 and 17:

  • Must attend orientation with a parent or guardian.
  • 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 have a parent or guardian call the center to report any absences or missed shifts.
  • Are assigned to the following areas for their first 10 hours: cage cleaning, food preparation, landscaping, laundry general cleaning.

Other restrictions:

  • Volunteers must meet the requirements outlined in the Essential Capabilities document, which outlines the physical, mental and emotional capabilities required of all volunteers.
  • We do not accept any court-ordered community service.
  • All volunteers must successfully complete a criminal background check.

Process of applying

  • Carefully review the information above and position descriptions before applying. 
  • If you would like to proceed, please fill out the volunteer application. Note: You'll be asked to upload your completed Essential Capabilities document when you apply.
  • After review of your application, you will be invited to attend an orientation. If, after the orientation, we mutually determine this opportunity is a good fit, you will be asked to authorize a background check based on the type of volunteer position for which you are applying.
  • Following the completion of the orientation, a nominal set-up/training fee of $20 will be due to help cover our expenses 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 fees.)
  • Before becoming an official volunteer, you will be asked to sign a volunteer agreement and a waiver and release of liability.

Fill out a volunteer application now

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