Rehabilitation Training at the Center

The Wildlife Center’s externship and internship programs offer training opportunities to students and others interested in learning about wildlife rehabilitation. Externs receive no stipend; however, housing is available for full-time externs, with a $75 housing deposit. Interns receive a monthly stipend for living expenses and housing is available.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Externships

Each year the Wildlife Center admits about 3,800 patients – sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals in need of medical care. The wildlife rehabilitation externships give in-depth, hands-on experience in the field of wildlife rehabilitation. Externships range from 4-12 weeks, however, a 12-week externship is preferred. Externships focus on animal husbandry, nutrition, capture and restraint methods, hand-feeding techniques for orphaned species, wildlife laws, and release criteria.

All applicants must be self-motivated individuals with a sincere interest in working with wildlife and the ability to enthusiastically work long hours. Attention to detail, punctuality, initiative and a strong desire to learn are required. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have completed at least two years of college or have equivalent prior animal experience. A tetanus vaccine and an up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination is required. Pre-exposure rabies vaccination is strongly preferred, and if obtained, series must be completed prior to start date. Applicants who are unable or choose to not get a rabies vaccine will still be considered, but overall experience will be limited.

Externs are supervised by permitted Certified Wildlife Rehabilitators and training includes both practical experience and didactic lectures and readings. Externs are required to complete a project related to wildlife rehabilitation prior to the completion of their externship. Options include researching a topic of choice related to wildlife rehabilitation and presenting this information to staff through a written paper and brief oral presentation, or constructing an enrichment item for patients or an ambassador animal. For short-term externships, project options include the creation of a short video or written blog post highlighting wildlife rehabilitation. 

Externship positions are offered all year-round and each season offers a variety of species that require rehabilitation. Externs who start between January and May will spend a large amount of time hand-feeding healthy orphaned squirrels, opossums, cottontails, and raptors. In our busiest season from May to August, externs will concentrate on the labor-intense task of raising baby passerines as well as bottle-feeding and browsing for fawns. Fall is raptor season and externs who start between September and December will flight condition birds of prey in addition to raising orphaned mammals. Externs in every season will work with an assortment of injured reptiles, mammals, and birds in various stages of recovery from injury; they will also provide daily care to our reptile education ambassadors.

For more information, please read our Wildlife Rehabilitation Externship description.

Application Process

Complete applications have five components:

The required documents can be attached to the online application form.

In order for your application to be considered complete you must contact Lauren Swinson at the following email address to indicate that you have submitted your application:

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Internship

Each year, the Wildlife Center of Virginia offers a one-year advanced training program in wildlife rehabilitation. Through this training program, the intern gains intensive, hands-on training and experience in the field of wildlife rehabilitation, focusing on animal nutrition, husbandry, feeding techniques, capture and restraint methods, release criteria, captive animal behaviors, and natural history.

The intern also learns medical skills from staff veterinarians, including bandaging, medical math, fluid therapy, zoonotic diseases, and other subjects pertinent to wildlife rehabilitation. The intern is responsible for training and supervising Wildlife Rehabilitation Externs. This opportunity enables the intern to develop leadership, public relations, and educational outreach skills. The intern will also have the opportunity to sit for the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council’s (IWRC) Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator (CWR) Examination.

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Internship is an unpaid training position. A monthly stipend for living expenses is offered. Housing is provided at the Wildlife Center of Virginia’s student house in Waynesboro.

The 2024-2025 internship will begin Spring 2024. When this position is open, a job announcement will be posted on our website, as well as on rehabilitation and university job boards.

Join us in making a real difference in wildlife conservation and the environment.

The Wildlife Center also offers education outreach externships. Please visit our Volunteer page for information about other ways to be involved.