Maybe You Need This Too

If you have a strength, talent or desire, we can help you put it to work helping the wildlife in our area.

Opportunities for Volunteering

The Refuge offers volunteer opportunities in a variety of areas including animal rescue, animal care, fundraising, education, and public relations – just to name a few. If you have a strength, talent or desire, we can help you put it to work helping the wildlife in our area.

Volunteering with the Refuge is a rewarding experience. It is extremely satisfying to know that you are directly impacting the lives of animals every day – knowing that your contribution helps release these animals back into their natural habitat and gives them the second chance that they deserve.

Volunteering can be a lot of work, but it can also be a lot of fun. Volunteering with the Refuge is a great way to give back to our community while meeting and working with a wide variety of people. Volunteer appreciation parties, community events and fundraisers are always fun to attend and participate in.

Learn more about ways you can get involved:

  • Docents
  • Fundraising and Event Committee
  • Wildlife Capture and Rescue Team
  • Wildlife Caregivers
  • Wildlife Transport and Pick-up
  • Stranding Team Volunteers

Volunteer with the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge

The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. Six categories are recognized, with each having its own set of related opportunities.

Wildlife Caregivers work at the refuge and assist with the day to day operations, including wildlife care, facilities maintenance, and diet preparation. Other actives may include rescues, releases, fostering, animal training, animal enrichment, and rehab care. Wildlife Caregivers undergo training conducted by the volunteer coordinator and the refuge staff; progress through 5 Wildlife Care Volunteer levels, each requiring a set number of hours, higher levels of responsibility, and new skills.

  • Minimum of 8 hours a month required to maintain active volunteer status.
  • Age requirements: 18 and up to complete all five levels.
  • 16 and up working with senior volunteers and staff
  • 12 to 15 may volunteer with a parent or legal guardian

Docents play a critical role as a representatives of the Refuge in classrooms, community events, and other educational settings. Docents participate in our in-house and  outreach educational programs alongside Refuge staff. Other activities include program content develop and operant conditioning training. Docent training will include wildlife handling skills, wildlife transport, and the study of natural history and zoology.

  • Minimum of 8 hours of a month required to maintain active docent status.
  • Age requirements: must be at least 18

Wildlife Capture and Rescue Team are trained to assist Refuge staff with the capture and transport of large animals that have become injured or distressed. Specialized training is required.

  • Age requirements: must be at least 18

Wildlife Transport and Pick-up is great for those who are unable to come to the Refuge on a routine basis, but still want to play an important role in our mission by volunteering to pick up and transport animals in your area to the Refuge.

  • Age requirements: must be at least 18

Fundraising and Event Committee plays a vital role to the refuge’s mission and future. Committee members work to promote the Refuge through fun and exciting communities events and membership drives. Activities include event planning, public relations, sponsorship recruitment, and more.

Stranding Team Volunteers are specifically tasked with responding to marine mammal and sea turtle strandings or injuries along the Emerald Coast. For more information on the stranding team check out The Stranding Center page.

For more information on volunteering contact

Volunteer with the Wildlife Rescue Team

When wildlife needs help, the ECWR must rely on volunteers from all around the tri-county area for transportation. In an effort to expand our resources, ECWR Staff will now Tweet the location of the injured animal! This allows the public to become actively involved in rescue and transportation.

Once an animal and its location are “Tweeted”, any available member of the public may call the refuge for more details. Once the injured wildlife has secured a ride, ECWR Staff will post a follow-up Tweet, closing out the need for a responder. The transporter’s job is to secure the animal by gently covering it with a pillow case or blanket and placing it in a cardboard box lined with soft linens. Air holes may be added as necessary. Tape or secure the container. Facilitating a dark, warm, quiet space for injured wildlife can dramatically reduce stress.

Wildlife can be very dangerous and unpredictable. Animals may bite or scratch out of fear. Personal safety if always our number one concern. Always wear gloves when dealing with wild animals. Keep children and pets AWAY from the animal and NEVER offer it food or water. The objective of the Rescue Team is to transport wildlife to our clinic as quickly and delicately as possible.

We strongly encourage anyone who is interested in volunteering at our wildlife rehab clinic to contact Susan Leveille at 850.650.1880. For additional question regarding the ECWR Wildlife Rescue Team, please contact Brittany Patrick at 850.650.1880.

If you find an injured or orphaned wild animal, please first call the ECWR immediately at 850.650.1880. While social media can be an effective tool for communication, it is not the most effective means to communicate your emergency.

The ECWR Rescue Team Twitter Page was created as a way for the ECWR Staff to communicate directly with the public when injured or orphaned wild animals need transportation to our rehab clinic, located at 105 Santa Rosa Blvd. Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548.

Follow us on Twitter: @ECWRRescue

Additional Info

While social media can be an effective tool for communication, it is not the most effective means to communicate an emergency. If you find an injured or orphaned wild animal, please first call the ECWR immediately at 850.650.1880

Volunteer with the Marine Mammal Stranding Center

The Stranding Center’s volunteer training program is designed to educate its volunteer members about basic marine mammal stranding response and rehabilitation. As with any endeavor practical experience will teach you most about the subject. Becoming competent in these fields can take quite some time simply because marine mammal strandings, especially rehabilitation efforts, are very involved. There are a series of classes to complete to be authorized to participate in all aspects of our work. As you complete each class you will be invited to accompany ECWR staff and other trained personnel on responses to dead strandings, necropsies and live strandings as they come up. Your availability is one key to gaining experience!

All volunteers with The Stranding Center must be 18 years or older and have a current tetanus shot.

Check Upcoming Classes for details on the next available class.

For more information on volunteering withThe Stranding Team please contact

Ready to Volunteer?

Download and fill out the application then return it during one of our upcoming Volunteer Orientations.

november 2017

sat11nov9:00 am- 12:00 pmVolunteer Orientation9:00 am - 12:00 pm Okaloosa Island Public Safety Center (fire station), 104 Santa Rosa Blvd., FWB 32548

Other Ways You Can Help