Carol: Why I Volunteer

April 20 – 27, 2013 is National Volunteer Appreciation Week – and we have a special appreciation for the volunteers who help us here at our clinic in Waynesboro!  Scores of volunteers donate their time and services at the Wildlife Center in a variety of ways – cleaning animal enclosures, feeding orphaned wildlife, assisting the veterinarians with daily treatments, transporting patients to and from the Center, and more!

As we honor our hard-working volunteers this week, we asked them:  Why do you volunteer at the Center?  What keeps you coming back?  Throughout this week we’ll share their responses on our blog.

Interested in volunteering with us?  Learn more!

This post is from Animal Care volunteer Carol. Carol has been volunteering with the Wildlife Center since 2010:

Why do I volunteer at the Wildlife Center?  I’m not sure why this question is so hard to answer. Something has kept me happily getting up at or before the crack of dawn once or twice a week for 2 ½ years. That was when I retired from many years in a most fulfilling job and was wondering what if anything could fill the void. I had volunteered 15 or so years ago at the Wildlife Center during “baby bird season” and had fallen in love with feeding the orphans. The one thing I knew I wanted to do in retirement was to volunteer at the Wildlife Center again.

In the intervening years, inspired by many books such as Sarah Stein’s “Noah’s Garden” and Doug Tallemy’s “Bringing Nature Home”, I had embarked on a project to convert our pasture land into a haven for wildlife using native plants. In short I found myself revering, respecting, and loving the flora and fauna of Virginia.

Returning to the Wildlife Center, my horizons expanded as I was taught so well by rehabber Suzy Doell and then Amber and Kelli to take care of more and more creatures. I observed the incredible dedication of these women and the vet staff who quietly and brilliantly deal with endless injuries to countless different animals and birds. Working with these people, the great outreach and education team, and so many wonderful students is an honor and a delight.

Many experiences are indelibly engraved in my mind. Releasing cedar waxwings into a flock at my home; releasing a mallard into nearby Middle River; the first time I caught, held, and weighed a Red-tailed Hawk. But it is the day-to-day caring for our patients and working with delightful people which, in the end, keeps me returning on those cold, dark winter days.

As a postscript to this post, I will tell you that last night, our hound kept us awake most of the night barking and baying at a black bear which we were able to see in the moonlight enjoying the birds’ sunflower seeds. We made one attempt to shoo him off, but this morning we discovered a battle- field of downed feeders including one hefty triple feeder screwed into the ground with an auger!  Do I still feel this love for our wildlife?  You betcha!!

Thank you, Wildlife Center folk, for teaching me so much and allowing me to work with you. It is the happiest privilege.

Read more from our other volunteers on our blog!


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