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:

  • Animal Care
  • Wildlife Capture & Rescue Team
  • Foster Parent
  • Wildlife Hotline (Answer Phones)
  • Education & Outreach
  • Fundraising & Event Committee
  • Marine Mammal Stranding Team

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. Every volunteer must be at least 18 years old and commit to volunteering a minimum of 8 hours per month to remain on active status with us.

Animal Care: Animal Care volunteers work at the refuge and assist with the day to day operations for taking care of various wildlife patients. Other related activities may include animal rescues, releases, fostering, animal training, animal enrichment, and rehab care. Animal Care volunteers undergo training conducted by the volunteer coordinator and the refuge staff; progress through 4 Wildlife Care Volunteer levels: Animal Husbandry Basic, Animal Husbandry Advanced, Nursery, and Veterinary. Volunteers work many hours in each level before being approved to move onto the next level by the Volunteer Coordinator.

Wildlife Capture & Rescue Team: These volunteers are trained to assist Refuge staff with the capture and transport of wild animals that have become injured or distressed. Specialized training is provided.

Foster Parent: These volunteers are trained to care for specific neonate species (squirrels, opossums, or raccoons) in their own homes during the height of baby season.

Wildlife Hotline (Answer Phones): These volunteers are trained to answer our phones and help with the many rescue calls we get each day. They will be calling members of our Wildlife Capture & Rescue Team to dispatch them to an area where there is an animal in distress. Specialized training and species specific information is provided to aid in needed knowledge for this task.

Education & Outreach: Education & Outreach volunteers play a critical role as a representatives of the Refuge in classrooms, community events, and other educational settings. They participate in our in-house and outreach educational programs alongside Refuge staff. Other activities include program content development, summer camp events, and creating educational displays. Some training will include wildlife handling skills, wildlife transport, and the study of natural history and zoology.

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

Marine Mammal Stranding Team: Team members are specifically trained to respond to marine mammal and sea turtle stranding events along the Emerald Coast. For more information on the stranding team check out The Marine Mammal Stranding Team page.

For more information on volunteering contact

Volunteer with the Marine Mammal And Sea Turtle Stranding Team

The Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Team is made of dedicated volunteers who respond to live and dead cetaceans (whales and dolphins) across the Florida panhandle and sea turtles in Okaloosa County. Volunteers may participate in response, live animal transport to rehabilitation, carcass recovery and necropsy. Additionally, stranding team members participate in public outreach events, such as beach clean ups, and act as educational docents in our Education and Outreach Center.

Volunteer Requirements:

  1. Be a current, active refuge volunteer
  2. Must be 18+ years old
  3. Must be in good health
  4. Must be able to lift 50 pounds
  5. Must be able to sit or stand for long periods
  6. Must complete necessary training classes
  7. Must wear logo gear on responses
  8. No smoking, drug or alcohol use while on responses

The first step for refuge volunteers to become Stranding Team volunteers is to attend an orientation. Marine Mammal orientation dates will be sent to all current refuge volunteers to the email listed in your Volgistics Account.

If you are not a current refuge volunteer, you must first fill out an application, attend an orientation and volunteer at the refuge before becoming a stranding team volunteer. No exceptions will be made.

Please contact our Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator, Brittany Dolan, with any questions at

Current Volunteers

Current ECWR Volunteers click this link to visit our virtual volunteer program where you can schedule and delete shifts, monitor your hours and much more:

Ready to Volunteer?

As of January 7th, 2021 we are currently no longer accepting any new applications for volunteering. At this time we have a large wait list of people who have submitted applications for wanting to volunteer with us. If you have already submitted an application prior to this date, you will be contacted via email when we are ready to start your volunteer training process. Once we get through our wait list of people, we will re-open the application process and include the link below to submit an application. Please be patient with us during this time as we are trying to get through as many people as we can. We do not have an expected date for when the applications will be available again.

If you still have questions about volunteering, please email Michelle, the Volunteer Coordinator, at

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