Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the questions that we are most frequently asked about our volunteer program. If your question is not answered on this page, please don't hesitate to contact us at!

1. What is the minimum time-commitment for volunteering?

- Because it takes almost a full semester (3 months or so) to complete training, we require volunteers to commit at least 3 semesters (12 months) to the program. Each week, volunteers are responsible for at least 8 hours of work at our facility, including our weekly meetings.

2. What happens if I am away for the summer?

- We recognize that many students take summer jobs outside of Guelph, and may not be able to fulfill volunteer requirements during the summer semester. For this reason, the minimum 3-semester commitment can exclude the summer semester (for example, you could volunteer fall-winter-fall).

3. How does volunteering fit in with a full class schedule?

- Because the 8 hour weekly commitment is broken into smaller chunks, and because we are located on-campus, our volunteer program works well for most students and can be scheduled around your classes. We've even had veterinary students fill our requirements during their school semesters! While we make the program as easy for students as possible, ultimately it is the responsibility of the volunteer to ensure that they can meet their obligations. "I was busy with school" will never be an acceptable excuse for ignoring your commitment. The birds and the program depend on our volunteers!

4. Can I volunteer if I am not a student?

- Unfortunately our volunteer handler program is only open to University of Guelph students at this time.

5. What is the minimum/maximum age for volunteering?

- The minimum age for volunteering is 18, or 17 for students with parental consent. There is no maximum age, but all volunteers must mesh well with our enthusiastic team of mostly young people!

6. I have no experience with birds/animals/public speaking/etc! Can I still volunteer?

- Yes! Experience is not required for this position, and we train our volunteers completely. Enthusiasm, dedication and a willingness to learn are the most important assets.

7. How does volunteer recruitment work?

- We assess our need for volunteers at the beginning of every semester (Jan, May, Sept), but only take as many as we need. Potential volunteers submit an application and resume (see our About Volunteering page), and we select the strongest candidates for an in-person interview. As we receive far more applications than we have spaces, this process is competitive - we recommend reading these pages carefully to better understand what we are looking for in a volunteer, and whether volunteering is right for you.

8. How does volunteer training work?

- Our training program takes almost a full semester (approximately 3 months) to complete. The new volunteer will complete a number of practical and classroom-style training sessions with our experienced volunteers and staff, attend our regular meetings, and successfully complete an evaluation before being certified to work alone in our facility. The time commitment during training is the same as, if not more than, during regular volunteering. Our volunteers never stop learning, so you training is never really finished!

9. Which bird(s) would I work with?

- We assign volunteers to a specific bird based on where we have openings, and most importantly how that volunteer's personality or other characteristics mesh with the needs of a particular bird. New volunteers do not have a say in which bird they are assigned to, and must be willing to work where they are needed. Volunteers who show the interest and take initiative tend to get opportunities to work with other birds on a limited basis, and you may get shifted from one bird to another during your time with the program.

10. Do I have to scrub poo or touch dead things?

- Yes! Keeping wild birds is messy business, so if you're not prepared to get dirty this is not the position for you! Volunteers are responsible for all of the cleaning associated with their assigned bird (and lots more), as well as the preparation of raptor food (mice, rats, chickens, etc). While you will not have to kill anything (all of our food is delivered frozen) you will definitely have to touch it!

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