Happy International Volunteer Day!

Posted December 5, 2020 by Vindi Sekhon

Today is International Volunteer Day and Wildlife Rescue Association of BC is grateful for the volunteers and their hard work, commitment and service they share with wildlife 365 days a year. Wildlife has a second chance at life because of you! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

There are many components and tasks that volunteers take on from answering the phone, receiving the injured animal, providing health checks, caring for the wildlife, releasing wildlife and transporting injured and orphaned wildlife. These are just a few of the tasks that ensure wildlife have a safe place to recover and heal before returning to their natural home. The work is continuous and difficult at times but volunteers get the job done gracefully. Today we honor a few of our volunteers and their experience as Wildlife enthusiasts and volunteers.

Kirstin T, Most Valuable Volunteer on the Wildlife Helpline

Kirstin joined our Support Centre team as a Helpline Volunteer in September of 2019. Her smile and positive attitude brighten up the office. She has contributed many hours towards updating our database and took on extra responsibilities as the volunteer Outreach Coordinator in March 2020, helping us improve our education & outreach efforts to the community.

As an Admissions and Helpline Volunteer, Kirstin assists members of the public who have found an animal that appears to be in distress. Helpline volunteers answer calls on our Wildlife Helpline, educating members of the public about wildlife behaviour, if the patient needs to come to our wildlife hospital and how to safely contain the animal. Admissions volunteers gather information when an animal is brought in from the public or transport volunteers and coordinates with the Wildlife Hospital to ensure the animal receives appropriate care.

Why did you decide to volunteer at Wildlife Rescue?

I have always had a passion for wildlife and education! As a University Student in the 90’s, I worked for BC Parks as a Naturalist as well as running the Education Programs at the Creston Valley Wildlife Centre. After having 2 kids, I introduced them to the interesting and rewarding world of volunteering and the 3 of us spent a year volunteering in animal care at Marine Mammal Rescue as well as at Vancouver Avian Research Centre where we banded birds, learning about aging and identifying many species.

What do you enjoy about volunteering and what impact has it had on you or the community?

I love volunteering at WRA because of the community (a fantastic group of people!) and all the learning that has happened to me. I have worked in a few different administrative roles and each role has provided new experiences and learning, whether it be baby bird facts or the complexity of entering data correctly into the system! Through this knowledge, I have been able to help friends and neighbors navigate encounters with wildlife and to provide new awareness.

Which special moment or wildlife case stands out for you?

One of my favourite memories is the release and reuniting of a fledgling crow. I brought it back to the family’s house, gave them the reuniting details, and left them in charge of the situation. She sent me a video almost immediately as the crow’s vocal cry called in the parents right away. The mamma tipped over the box to let her baby out and led him to another, less exposed area of the yard. The family was ecstatic to watch all this happening as they were skeptical it would work.

They learned a lot about fledgling birds and were able to pass this on to their neighbors and friends. It was most definitely a true community moment!

I hope to be at WRA for many years as I really appreciate the volunteers/staff and the work has been very meaningful! Thanks all!

 Tina S, Exceptional Leadership

Tina has been volunteering since May 2013 and is currently a Staff Assistant in the Hospital. She mentors new animal care and staff assistant volunteers, developing their skills to create top performers. Tina also performs administrative tasks including creating and facilitating Animal Care Training, Team Leader Workshops and Duckling Workshops – ensuring our fuzzy friends cared for each summer before release.

As a Team Leader in Animal Care, Tina provides guidance to 2-8 Animal Care volunteers (depending on the time of year) ensuring all animal care tasks are completed correctly and on time. This includes feeding all our patients, preparing and cleaning enclosures, and keeping the facility clean and tidy. As a Staff Assistant, Tina assists our Wildlife Technicians in the Medical Centre with various wildlife rehabilitation duties.

Tina lives in Anmore with her kitties Molly and Zoey, 3 goldfish, 1 beta, and 2 frogs. Her favourite bird is the pigeon.

Why did you decide to volunteer at Wildlife Rescue?

I’ve always loved animals and wildlife, and back in the winter of 2012 I was watching a marathon of Hope for Wildlife on tv and realized I’d really like to be involved with something like that, just with local wildlife. After a little bit of internet searching, I found WRA, and applied to be an animal care volunteer.

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

I really enjoy being able to be part of helping the animals in care recover and/or grow up (if they came in as babies) and be released back to the wild. The people are also a big part of volunteering at Wildlife Rescue; I’ve made several close friends throughout the years.

What impact has volunteering had on you or the community?

Being involved with a wildlife rescue has made me more interested in the conservation of animals, which has led me to volunteer three times with a conservation organization in South Africa.

Which special moment or wildlife case stands out for you?

In my first spring at WRA, there was baby merganser (duck) that came in, having been found in a storm drain alone. As it was the only one of its type in care, it was pretty amazing to be able to follow 1 patient’s growth to release (it was raised with mallard ducklings for the company). From trying to catch a small diving duck in its pool (including the mallard ducklings that seemed to pick up diving), to see an almost adult ready for release was great.

Also, this past winter, an American White Pelican was in care for 7 months. Getting to assist with his care, in helping feed, or hold him for medical care and checkups, too many hours spent bundled up in the cold to entice Peli into his pool while he healed over the winter with us.

Giselle B, Outstanding Commitment

Giselle has been a volunteer at WRA for just over 6 years. Five of them as an Animal Care volunteer and the last year as a Staff Assistant. This past year she has also stepped up as an Animal Care Training Facilitator and has been an essential volunteer in developing our online training for new Animal Care volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Giselle goes above and beyond by making time to teach volunteers new skills during her busy shifts.

As a staff assistant, Giselle assists our Wildlife Technicians in the Medical Centre with various wildlife rehabilitation duties which can include intake examinations, patient check-ups, administering treatment (medication, tube feeding, wound management), and release assessments.

Giselle graduated with a BA in Environment from SFU in the Spring. She is currently working in the field of ocean conservation.

Why did you decide to volunteer at Wildlife Rescue?

I decided to start volunteering to gain some experience after I finished high school. I was toying with the idea of studying veterinary science or something related to the environment/ecology/wildlife in post-secondary, so thought this would provide me with some insight.

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

I keep volunteering because I continue to learn so much and feel like I’m positively contributing to the health of BC’s wildlife and environment. Every day and season at WRA is different and brings new patients and learning opportunities. I have gained so much respect, awareness, and knowledge about our local wildlife and how humans can help to protect them.

What impact has volunteering had on you or the community?

A huge impact. Even though I did not take the veterinary science route in post-secondary, my time volunteering satisfies that old aspiration and I’ve gained so many valuable skills and experiences. And I can’t imagine the lower mainland community without WRA and I’m glad that I can be a part of a place that’s so important!

Which special moment or wildlife case stands out for you?

I’m always impressed with how far I’ve come with my relationship with gulls. I remember when I first started, I was too nervous to even sign up to do their feed and cleans, let alone pick them up. Now, I’m still wary (as I should be), but am able to—somewhat comfortably—handle them, give them medications, and do their daily checks. I have a newfound respect for all wildlife.

 Wilf M, Volunteer of the Year

Wilf started as an Animal Care Volunteer in March 2019. One year later he became our volunteer Maintenance Coordinator, responsible for overseeing the maintenance of our grounds & facility alongside our Maintenance Staff, Don.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wilf stepped up to manage many of our major maintenance and construction projects. As the volunteer Maintenance Coordinator, he is responsible for weekly maintenance, coordinating volunteers, contributing to the Health & Safety Committee, and introducing new administrative maintenance procedures.

Why did you decide to volunteer at Wildlife Rescue?

I recently retired and wanted to stay busy. I have always enjoyed wildlife and I thought I could help out and learn about them at the same time.

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

Seeing and working with the wildlife up close as well as working with and learning from the staff and volunteers. They are a great group of people, always willing to help out and share.

What impact has volunteering had on you or the community?

It is very satisfying to be part of a group that is focused on saving lives and improving conditions for wildlife. In addition, I think the role that Wildlife Rescue performs in the education of the public is very important for the future of wildlife in the area.

Which special moment or wildlife case stands out for you?

As for maintenance volunteers, we occasionally get requests to build special structures for the birds. Earlier this year they needed a large, covered shelter built inside one of the raptor pens. In addition to being large at 8’x12′, it also had to have a steep roof to discourage the birds from perching on the roof. After consulting with staff and others on the design I built the shelter using as many re-claimed and recycled materials as possible. After completion, it was nice to see the shelter was being well used and that it helped improve the environment for the birds.

Liz E, Most Valuable Volunteer in Transport, Rescue & Release

Liz has been a volunteer at Wildlife Rescue Association since 2011. She helps in many roles including Animal Care, Transport & Rescue, Waterfowl Rescue Team Lead, and Shopping.

Liz is a major asset to our team, completing a great number of transports, rescues & releases each month. Her efforts as a Waterfowl Rescue Team Lead this spring and summer have proven her to be an exceptional volunteer and her friendly demeanor makes her a perfect ambassador for Wildlife Rescue.

Transport, Rescue & Release volunteers are an essential part of our programs. They transport injured or orphaned wildlife to WRA, and back into the wild for release when the public does not have the means. Our team of rescue volunteers helps with difficult cases, where an animal cannot be easily contained by a member of the public. The seasonal Waterfowl Rescue program involves the safe capture and immediate release of goose families that have become trapped on buildings, rooftop gardens, and other human-made structures during nesting season.

Why did you decide to volunteer at Wildlife Rescue?

I have had a love of animals since I was a child as our family always had pets such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and chickens. I would love going into the chicken coop and feeding my favourite black cochin chickens and letting them out to scratch around the yard.

When I retired early in 2011, I was looking for volunteer work to fill the time I was not traveling, and Wildlife Rescue Association was the perfect fit for me. I started as a transport volunteer, adding rescue volunteer shortly after then progressed to animal care volunteer as well. I am also one of the team leads during rooftop rescue season for trapped goslings and ducklings.

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

The experiences I have doing rooftop rescues can be stressful but once the family is rescued and we release them all together I get such a warm feeling watching them swim away.

I encourage anyone who has the passion to help wildlife to join us in volunteering. It is a wonderful feeling to give your time to help animals in distress.

Which special moment or wildlife case stands out for you?

With years of experience came more challenging rescues. Every rescue has its own challenges and I have a few that stick out as very memorable. I received the text regarding a female mallard that had lost her ducklings down a storm drain. The slots are just wide enough for these little ducklings to fall right through. Upon arrival, a city worker had said they were flushed through to the creek which was approximately 600 meters away. I walked down to the creek and saw nothing and then saw the mallard fly overhead back in the direction I came from. When I returned, I could see her on the boulevard and could hear the ducklings through a manhole cover on the road. Long story short after working with the city and fire department I managed to get all 10 ducklings out of the manhole. I put them in a kennel and the mother followed me to the creek and I released them to her. They all left towards the creek a happy family.

Another challenging one was a report of a tree with heron nests falling and taking out other trees. Another volunteer and I, also named Liz, arrived at the site in Tsawwassen and met members of the first nations band as the heron colony was on their land. They led us to the area they thought it was, through dense brush and brambles where we were able to rescue 6 juveniles but sadly found 12 that were deceased.

 Asami H, Most Valuable Volunteer in Office Administration

Asami has volunteered with Wildlife Rescue since September 2019. Asami brings a great level of dedication and exceptional administrative skills to the Volunteer Program. She works behind the scenes year-round as the Volunteer Program Assistant to monitor volunteer commitment, ensure new volunteers are onboarded seamlessly and complete various administrative projects as needed.

Why did you decide to volunteer at Wildlife Rescue?

I started volunteering at Wildlife Rescue after seeing that they were looking for a Volunteer Program Assistant. I was finishing up my administrative assistance certificate and thought it could be a great opportunity for me to round off my learning with some hands-on work while investing that time into trying to rectify some of the harms that humans commit, without bad intentions, through the consequences of driving or simply having glass office windows. I’m currently working contracts in general office work but moving on to medical office assistance after my graduation this year.

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

My favourite part about volunteering as a Volunteer Program Assistant is the routine work and being able to help other volunteers feel cared for through my email responses. I think it makes a significant difference to feel heard and it encourages us all to feel more comfortable in our respective roles. I have received so much support throughout my time at Wildlife Rescue and I genuinely feel like a valued member of the team. The public health precautions were made thoroughly and promptly. Volunteers were very well-cared for from what I have experienced myself and assisted with.

What impact has volunteering had on you or the community?

Volunteering at Wildlife Rescue has allowed me to learn to take on a friendly yet professional tone in my communications. I can respond to emails in a polite yet friendly tone rather than one that could be perceived as awkward or cold. I feel much more confident in my everyday and professional exchanges!

Which special moment or wildlife case stands out for you?

On my way walking to Wildlife Rescue in the winter, I came across a great blue heron standing by the side of the road. I had never seen such a large bird before, and especially at this close of a distance. They had an intimidating state as they ensured I was always in sight. I took a few photos but remained a respectful distance so I would not further stress them. I’ve never been very close to nature, the city person I am, so that moment is one where I felt connected yet apart from the fellow beings, we share our Earth with. It is humbling and troubling to see the places where humans and animals meet inconveniently when I wish they never had to suffer our urban landscapes. The least we could do is take in those who are hurt and help them recover so they can return to their lives as soon as reasonable for their condition. This is something that Wildlife Rescue serves dutifully every single day, and it makes me proud to be part of this team and this effort.

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