Volunteering with animals can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience for college students who are passionate about animal welfare. Not only does it allow them to make a positive impact in the lives of animals, but it also provides valuable hands-on experience that can be beneficial for those pursuing careers in the animal industry. But with so many animal volunteer programs available, how can students find the best one for them?
One of the best ways for college students to find animal volunteer programs is by looking into organized volunteer programs at local sanctuaries or zoos. Many animal sanctuaries and zoos offer volunteer programs where individuals can assist in animal care, habitat maintenance, and educational programs. These programs offer a structured and safe way for students to gain hands-on experience and make a difference in the lives of animals. These programs may have many applicants for just a few places, so plan ahead and be sure to follow the application process.
Students who are interested in working with livestock or horses can find volunteer opportunities at individual farms. These opportunities may involve tasks such as feeding and grooming animals, assisting with medical care, and helping with farm maintenance. This can be a great way for students to gain experience working with large animals and learn about agricultural practices. Think about using contacts in your network to reach out to farms near you, whether via university faculty, your campus career center, friends and family, social media, or town message boards.
Another way for college students to get involved with animal volunteer programs is by volunteering with shelters for dogs and cats. These shelters often rely on volunteers to help with tasks such as walking and socializing animals, cleaning cages, and assisting with adoption events. Not only does this provide valuable experience working with animals, but it also helps shelters care for their animals and find them forever homes. You may be able to gain more experience and responsibility over time by being timely, consistent, dependable, and eager to learn when you are volunteering.
For students who are interested in gaining hands-on experience with animals abroad, there are also organized study abroad programs and pre-veterinary camps available. These programs offer students the opportunity to work with animals in different countries and learn about different animal welfare practices. Loop Abroad is an example of a pre-veterinary program that offers students the opportunity to work with animals in countries such as Thailand, Australia, and South Africa.
While some animal volunteer programs may come with a cost, there are also many free opportunities available. To find these opportunities, students should be organized and communicate clearly with potential organizations. Taking the first step in reaching out about opportunities can also be key in finding a volunteer position. Once they have found an opportunity, it’s important for students to be a dependable volunteer by showing up on time, being prepared to work, and following through with commitments. Opportunities with a paid tuition may be easier to fit into a busy schedule and guarantee certain experience and material will be covered.
In conclusion, there are many ways for college students to get involved with animal volunteer programs. College credit may be available for any of these experiences, sometimes as internship or externship experience – ask your campus career center or advisor if you are interested in getting credit for your experience. Whether it’s through organized volunteer programs at local sanctuaries or zoos, opportunities to volunteer with livestock or horses at individual farms, volunteering with shelters for dogs and cats, or organized study abroad programs or pre-veterinary camps such as Loop Abroad, students can gain valuable hands-on experience while making a positive impact in the lives of animals. By being organized, communicating clearly, taking the first step in reaching out about opportunities, and being a dependable volunteer, students can find the best animal volunteer program for them.