How to Volunteer with the Wildlife Science Center

If you're interested in pursuing a job in environmental conservation or animal care, volunteering at the Wildlife Science Center could be valuable experience toward a future career.
If you're interested in pursuing a job in environmental conservation or animal care, volunteering at the Wildlife Science Center could be valuable experience toward a future career.
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If the great wolf is an inspiring vision of the wild to you, you might want to consider volunteering with the Wildlife Science Center. Located just north of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, this non-profit organization began as the "Wolf Project" [source: Wildlife Science Center]. The federally funded group spent 15 years researching wolves until the funding ran out in 1991. However, the staff wasn't ready to give up working with these impressive canines. Instead, they gathered more people and expanded their operation to include bears, raptors, bobcats, foxes, and both red and gray wolves.

Three years later the Wildlife Science Center began hosting educational programs for the public, something that continues today with the help of an extensive volunteer network. Currently, more than 25,000 people visit the Wildlife Science Center each year [source: Wildlife Science Center]. Their events range from dog sledding and wine tastings to motorcycle fundraisers and canine carnivals. They also have recurring programs, which include weekend tours, overnight lock-ins, dog behavioral training programs and opportunities for scouts. If you have an interest in wildlife or the environment, volunteering with the Wildlife Science Center might be right for you.

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Volunteering opportunities include educating the public, caring for the animals, and assisting at special events and Saturday tours. For those who would like to help but prefer something a little more low-key, the Wildlife Science Center also needs volunteers to do clerical duties and work at its gift shop.

If you're at least 18 years old and are ready to make the commitment to wildlife education and research, the Wildlife Science Center has volunteer opportunities that might be a good match for you. Read on to learn how to become a Wildlife Science Center volunteer.

Becoming a Wildlife Science Center Volunteer

The Wildlife Science Center boasts an application process that's super easy -- but first, you should be aware of the requirements to make sure it's a good fit for you.

In order to become a volunteer, you should be at least 18 years old and be ready to commit to one year of volunteering. You only need to volunteer two to four times a month, and you don't need anything beyond that -- except for maybe a love of animals and the environment. If you want a shorter commitment but can give more time, there are certain volunteer positions available that require you to work one day a week for six months, or just for the summer. Those are only available by special request, however, and must be discussed during your interview or orientation [source: Wildlife Science Center].

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If this sounds good to you, you should start the application process. First, you fill out three essay questions posted on the Wildlife Science Center Web site. This may sound time consuming, but your answers to each question need only be 50 words. Next, you need to fill out an application form. This is available for download on their Web site, and can be mailed to the center. Last, volunteers need at least one recommendation from someone they know. Whether it's a personal or professional reference, it's necessary -- the Wildlife Science Center doesn't consider applicants who don't have a reference. The recommendation form can also be downloaded from the Web site [source: Wildlife Science Center].

Though volunteering is great, it's always nice to get something back, too. Read on to find out the benefits of being a Wildlife Science Center Volunteer.

Benefits of Being a Wildlife Science Center Volunteer

Are you fascinated by gray or red wolves? Or maybe you find the black bear, cougar, lynx or bobcat intriguing? You'll find these creatures and more -- raccoons, hawks, and porcupines -- at the Wildlife Science Center. If you want to get up close and personal to any of these animals, then volunteering at the Wildlife Science Center is the perfect opportunity to do so.

In order to become a volunteer, you have to receive training. If you're interested in pursuing a job in animal care, the training you receive at the Wildlife Science Center could be valuable to a future career. The same goes for education, as the bulk of volunteer work there is dedicated to teaching the public about these animals and their environments. Volunteers can also build valuable technology skills working in clerical positions or gain sales experience in the gift shop.

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Beyond the initial training, volunteers are granted additional educational opportunities. You can receive extra training through seminars, workshops and lectures. You'll also get to go behind the scenes and observe the animals far closer than anyone in the public is allowed. Furthermore, all volunteers receive free admission to tours and events, along with a discount for any purchases at the gift shop [source: Wildlife Science Center].

If you'd like to learn more about volunteering and the Wildlife Science Center, visit the links on the following page.

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Sources

  • Beckstrom, Maja. "Family Outings: Wildlife Science Center gives kids up-close look at wolves and their behaviors." Twin Cities. April 24, 2009. http://www.twincities.com/techtestdrive/ci_12157965
  • Dictionary of Quotations. "Herodotus." 1989. http://www.bartleby.com/73/1439.html
  • Explore Minnesota. "Wildlife Science Center." http://www.exploreminnesota.com/listing.aspx?EntityId=12883
  • Parent Zone. "Wildlife Science Center." http://www.parentzone.com/usa/minnesota/minneapolis/places/wildlife-science-center
  • Volunteer Match. "Wildlife Science Center." http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/org34144.jsp
  • Weiss, Tara. "Laid Off? Volunteer! Here's Why and Now." Forbes. February 24, 2009.http://www.forbes.com/2009/02/24/volunteer-layoff-opportunity-leadership-careers_basics.html
  • Wildlife Science Center. "Volunteer Opportunities." http://www.wildlifesciencecenter.org/subpages/volunteer/volunteerops.htm