Internship, Staff, and Volunteer Application
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Volunteers can be year-round or be seasonal (spring-fall), but either way we ask that volunteers try commit to one shift a week for the majority of weeks out of the year due to the amount of training required. Volunteers are required to commit at least 3-4 hours per shift, although you can certainly do more.

We are open every day of the year, including holidays. Our hours change slightly depending on the time of year. For example, generally April-September, we operate 12 hours a day every day, dividing the day into the morning shift from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. and the afternoon shift is from 2 p.m.- 8 p.m. However, we are NOT open to the public any time except for 9am-5pm and do not admit new patients outside of those hours. As the center slows down in the late fall and winter months, we are open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

We generally ask that volunteers either start their volunteer shift at 8am or at 2pm during the busy season / 9am or 1pm during the slow season. Other arrangements can be made (such as only volunteering a few hours at night to help us feed baby animals), but such arrangements will need to be discussed with the volunteer coordinator.

Note it is NOT required that you work every day that you indicate you are available. This just helps us determine what would be the best time for you to come in based on our need for volunteers and your availability (i.e., if you select your are available Monday and Tuesday and we have enough volunteers already on Tuesday, we will ask you to come Monday instead). You will be notified in advance before being added to the schedule.

If your availability changes please notify the Volunteer Coordinator via email at

Any questions or inquiries can be emailed to with the title “Volunteer Inquiry.” and we are more than happy to answer them.

We reserve the right to terminate your volunteering for any reason; examples of reasons we deem appropriate to terminate a volunteer include: no call no show, calling out with less than 24 hour notice multiple times, refusal or avoidance of basic cleaning duties, etc.

Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center is a non-profit rehabilitation center and veterinary clinic for native Virginia wildlife, caring for around over 2,600 patients a year and averaging about 250+ different species a year. 

This internship is open to those interested in the field of wildlife rehabilitation or wildlife science and is a great opportunity to gain skills and knowledge pertaining to the field. Interns have opportunities to learn proper animal husbandry, hand-feeding orphaned mammals and birds, proper capture, restraint, and handling methods for each species, nutrition, legal regulations in regards to wildlife, natural history, ethical solutions to human/wildlife conflicts, and more. Those who commit to this experience and prove themselves to be disciplined, self-starting, hardworking, and willing learners have additional opportunities to learn advanced techniques (time permitting) such as basic introduction to microaging birds by plumage (a bird banding technique), and observing and assisting staff and our veterinary team with more advanced medical cases.

Interns must be at least 18 years old by the start of the internship and have a Virginia address in accordance with regulations given by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to work with wildlife.

We operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week during peak baby season (April-September). The morning shift is from 8am to 2pm, and the afternoon shift is from 2pm-8pm. Interns are required to work a minimum of 288 hours. Our most common commitment generally looks like 12 week period of time sometime between April through September, although we have done other arrangements before depending on our needs and availability of applicants. Interns are required work a minimum of 4 shifts per week (totaling a minimum of 24 hours per week, divided into 6 hour shifts), but many choose to work more shifts to gain a more in-depth experience.

Working the whole shift is required and interns may not leave until all the tasks of their shift have been completed and they have checked out with the Shift Leader. Exceptions (such as leaving right at 2pm to make a doctor’s appointment, etc) must have prior approval. Overnight accommodations can be made at our facility in our designated intern room, which has bunks beds and a private bathroom including a shower, especially for those who commute and have their shifts back to back.

Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, the internship is not currently paid, as is the standard for wildlife rehabilitation internships across the United States. Due to this, and understanding that many people have to work, take summer classes, or have other needs, we will work with you and try to be flexible with your needs provided you meet ours. We try to schedule one month out, so you will most likely know your schedule at least a month in advance to accommodate for any changes.

Please be aware that we take our internship commitment very seriously. We commit our time and resources to train and educate our interns and expect that our interns take this commitment seriously. You should view your internship as a job commitment -- and your performance impacts the well-being of living creatures we are trying to care for.

We reserve the right to terminate your internship for any reason; examples of reasons we deem appropriate to terminate an internship include: no call no show, calling out with less than 24 hour notice multiple times, refusal or avoidance of basic cleaning duties, etc.

Only those with rabies pre-vaccination are allowed to work with high-risk rabies vectors (foxes, bats, groundhogs, bobcats, etc). We take preference for intern applicants that have their pre-exposure rabies vaccine, but this is not a requirement (but highly recommended if you plan to go to veterinary school OR work with wild mammals in any capacity). If you are interested in receiving the vaccine please check with your health insurance provider, pharmacy, or local health department.

We offer a once in a lifetime experience and the privilege of being able to work hands-on with a wide range of native wildlife in ways that few other experiences will.

This experience is extremely practical and hands-on and there is never a day that you are not having direct contact with wild animals. Plus, you will experience the joy of releasing some of the patients you worked on with your own hands back into the wild! If you are a self-motivated individual who is passionate or interested about the native wildlife of our region and the conservation of those wild things and wild places, please fill out the below form. After submitting the intern application, we will review it, and if everything looks good we will invite you for an in-person interview at the Center so you can see the facility in person and ask any and all questions you may have during that time. Any questions or inquiries can be emailed to with the title “Internship Inquiry.)” and we are more than happy to answer them.

We do occasionally hire people as receptionists, wildlife rehabilitation staff, and other positions. While you may indicate on this form you are interested in working here, the best way to check to see if we have any current job openings is to follow out social media pages, as we often post our job openings there first.

It is common for us to hire volunteers or former interns, so if you want a career in wildlife rehab, we highly recommend you have volunteer or intern experience either with us or another permitted organization -- often the best way of joining our team and getting paid is to start in an unpaid position first, as was the case with most of our current staff.

We are currently NOT hiring for the 2024 season.
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