This Page Is Under Construction!
Volunteer forms can be found at the bottom of this page. I just got them up:)
Check out Missy’s volunteer handbook for details on what it takes to be a student volunteer here.
We love kids and everyone LOVES to play with animals. When you volunteer with us you are actually entering a real world with REAL work to do. Everyone takes care of the animals. That means you meet them as you feed and clean them. It can be yucky, stinky and basically hard work. It’s not all about playing with the animals.
We limit student volunteers (under 18) to those who are truly devoted to learning about what we do, for community service or a school, church or club project.
In the past we have allowed students who only needed 5-10 hours of service to do their hours and leave. We can NO LONGER do this. The minimal commitment now is 3-5 hours one day a week for 12 weeks. For a total of 36-60 hours. And before you ask, NO they cannot be done all in one week. Students waiting until the last minute to do their projects are not really, in our eyes, interested in our work. They are looking for an easy “A”. Students who are only with us for 5-10 hours aren’t really learning anything except how to clean and feed a few animals and using up a “supervisor and key volunteer or employees” time. We have felt as though we are teaching them nothing.We hope that Teachers and Parents will understand this and encourage their students to commit to the 12 weeks, even though they may only need 5-10 hours.
The idea of having this program is to TEACH the STUDENTS. We have the ability here at Animal Talk to teach students REAL life skills. Unfortunately because of school schedules they come to us at the busiest time of our day. People are getting off of work and are in a hurry or need our help and supervision to find just the right animal. We ask that you do not come or call after 3:00 PM during the week as we are very, very busy.
The first day is a training day and the parent either must come in before hand and pick up the “student volunteer” form or must come with the student the first day to fill it out. The student will be required to keep track of their OWN forms from school but will also need to fill out each day, a page in the “Volunteer time Book”. Each day a Key Volunteer or Store Manager MUST initial their page after the time is logged. This time page DOES NOT leave the book at anytime, it cannot be copied or altered by any student or parent. This time log is for our verification by schools and agencies. If any alterations or forging occurs the student will not be allowed to volunteer with us. Also we will not sign off on hours that have NOT been completed yet. Understand that the first day is not only a training day but an evaluation day. Not only for us, but for the student and the parent. If they feel they cannot do the work be honest. There is nothing worse than working with someone who does not want to be there or feels afraid or uncomfortable or is allergic to the animals.
Also parents, please avoid calling your student on the business line. We will allow students to carry their cell phone on vibrate if you need to contact them. They will not be allowed to call or text friends while they are here. Make sure to schedule before hand when you are picking them up and remind them that they must be ready to go, we are busy and cannot keep track of your schedule. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are closed.
Students are REQUIRED to complete their assigned task before they can leave. Parents please feel free to hang out or even help and be patient. We are also trying to teach the kids how to be calm and organized. Too many times I have found animal cages open or food and water left out “the next day” because students were rushed and FORGOT what they were doing. “Forgetting” is not a good thing here. It endangers the animals.
Animals don’t understand about Holidays and School breaks or vacations. They are not computers that can be turned off. They eat 365 days a year. That means that if a student has an assigned day to come in, they will be there. If one of their 12 weeks falls on Spring or Winter break or whatever Holiday they are still expected to be here. Please, Please respect this. To many times students decide that they also have something better to do or just don’t feel like coming in that day. If this is going to be the case we suggest that maybe they should not be volunteering here. They must respect the needs of the animals,the other volunteers and staff and treat it as though it is a real job.
We can’t download all of our years of experience in a few short hours. The following is a list of things that students can learn from us.
- Animal Behavior-we work with so many types of animals they can actually chose the one that they are truly interested in. They will be handling and caring for a multitude of species. Hamsters, rats, sugargliders, prairie dogs, degus, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs, snakes,lizards turtle, tortoises, tarantulas, insects, fish, short tail opossums and birds.
- Working with people- whether it’s other volunteers or the public.
- Basic Triage/Veterinary care- we do rescue, that includes the good, the bad and the ugly.
- Responsibility and Commitment- We work very hard and our devotion to animals is a fantastic roll model for everyone.
- Focus- We are always busy and multi tasking. The students learn how to stay on task in a chaotic (okay, sometimes very stressful) environment.
- Empathy and Compassion- in this world of electronics and packaged ideas, we can show them the living changing world around them. Possibly even getting them away from cold unfeeling computer games and other electronics that are slowly robbing us of the ability to communicate with and see animals and people as living and breathing, and suffering from loneliness and neglect.
Some of the things we want them to see and learn how to do while they are here:
- Proper Handling of many different types of animals.
- Sanitation, by the time they leave us they will be able to clean, sweep and sterilize your whole house! AND why sanitation is so important!
- Organization, we work in a very small very full environment totally dedicated to animal care.
- They will learn about Trap-Neuter-Return and all that is involved with feral colonies of cats and FeralCatProject.org.
- They will learn customer service skills by guiding potential adopters or clients to the proper person and will be able to participate in adoptions and animal care and how to give the information in a way that teaches and guides customers and adopters away from thinking of animals as throw away objects like broken electronics or computer games they have gotten bored of.. They will learn basic conversation skills and body language indicators to tell if they are actually being heard and engage in good eye contact.
- They will help with and learn about protocols for vaccinations, wormings, medications, diseases, health issues, parasite control, preparation for surgery and recuperation after surgery.
- They will play an activate part in socialization and evaluation of the needs of individual cats and learn about the Meet Your Match program designed by the ASPCA.org
- They will learn how important it is to take care of our environment and how much they can help others by getting the word out through different media types and by example.
- They will actually take part in training animals.
- They will learn basic grooming skills that will keep many different types of animals healthy and beautiful!
- They will learn about proper nutrition and take an active role in maintaining and expanding on our care of the animals.
- They will learn merchandising and sales skills (honest ones), we tend to screen perspective homes (even for rodents) thoroughly.
- They WILL learn how to take direction and correction with grace and willingness to adapt to new concepts. In other words “They WILL learn how to NOT TALK BACK” and what is appropriate language,clothing, attitude. and demeanor while in a public place.
- They will learn about and take responsibility for their actions and responsibilities to their assigned tasks. If it’s not done right , they will do it again until it is. They will learn and be responsible for being on time and if they are deemed able by key staff they will be given more responsibilities and opportunities. This type of work looks REALLY good on grant applications for school and resumes for work.
- We will get them involved with Petstorepro. a website that teaches different aspects of business and animal care. This program awards certificates after completing different courses.
- Please read our basic Volunteer Handbook (still under construction) and Dress Code.
We want to be able to teach them and spend time getting to know their needs and capabilities. We really can’t do it in a few short hours. We always need good volunteers. It’s a huge learning curve. Please parents, evaluate your schedule and your students capabilities and commitment to their project so it truly is an “A” project.