Volunteering Opportunities at CROW Wildlife Clinic on Sanibel

By: Gillian Birch

Whether you are an animal lover with time on your hands or a veterinary student looking for an internship working with wildlife, CROW can use your services! The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, better known as CROW, is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1968 by Sanibel resident Shirley Walter and the late Dr. Phyllis Douglass.

Since the first Royal Tern patient, CROW has grown steadily in order to meet the high demand for care of injured wildlife. Loggerhead sea turtles, pelicans, hummingbirds, raptors and reptiles are typical of the 3,500 animals and birds that were treated at CROW in 2014. As you can appreciate, that involves a lot of veterinary man-hours, the majority of which are provided by interns and volunteers.

MustDo.com | Rescued owl in rehab at CROW hospital on Sanibel Island, FL

Photo courtesy C.R.O.W.

Volunteer Programs at CROW

In addition to student interns, CROW depends on a team of devoted animal lovers and volunteers who carry out essential support work such as transporting injured wildlife, assisting with rescues and releases, cage cleaning, feeding and general administrative duties. Another essential role provided by volunteers is fundraising and assisting in special events.

MustDo.com | Vets caring for a turtle at the Clinic for the Rehabilitaion of Wildlife on Sanibel Island, FL

Photo courtesy C.R.O.W.

No two shifts are ever alike; there’s a great sense of team work and you get a real sense of achievement from knowing you are making a difference to the ongoing work at CROW. Volunteering at the Wildlife Clinic will also provide you with unrivalled animal experience and will certainly look good on your resume if you plan a career in veterinary medicine or any caring profession.

If you are over 18 years of age and can commit to one shift per week of 4-5 hours then CROW would love to hear from you. To apply, just download the CROW Volunteer Application Form and you could soon be manning the First Response Desk, assisting in the Gift Shop, overseeing Gopher Tortoise Grazing, contributing to the In-house and Outreach Educations Programs or giving hands-on assistance to injured and recovering patients.

MustDo.com | Baby alligator CROW wildlife hospital Sanibel Island, Florida

Photo courtesy C.R.O.W.

Internships and Externships Available for Wildlife Veterinary Students

CROW offers various other student programs including:

One Year Internships

Externships for Undergraduate Students

Externships for Veterinary Medicine Students

Externships for Veterinary Technician Students

Fellowship Students

Although students do not get paid for their time, they do receive free dormitory accommodation on-site and something money cannot buy – invaluable hands-on experience treating the wide range of injured or sick wildlife that finds its way to CROW. Tasks included setting fractured bones, giving blood transfusions, treating wounds, dealing with emergencies and feeding the patients.

There are very few wildlife rehabilitation centers in the US that offer such exceptional teaching and experience as that offered under Dr Heather Barron, the hospital director and overseers of the student programs at CROW, along with Dr Molly Lien, the senior intern. Dr Lien herself supplemented her veterinary experience treating pets and farm animals in Michigan before serving a year-long residency at CROW to broaden her experience with conservation and wildlife medicine.

Internships are highly sought-after by post-graduate veterinary students as they get the unique opportunity to assist the clinic director in care and rehabilitation, serve as a primary doctor in many cases, experience hands-on triage care of patients and the chance to teach other students. They also pursue research projects and are required to publish their findings in a peer review medical journal as well as possibly assisting in the writing of educational textbooks.

Externships at CROW are also offered to undergraduate students, veterinary technicians and vet medicine students. Stays can be from 4 to 26 weeks, gaining experience as they treat the ongoing stream of needy animals and wildlife. Interested applicants should complete the CROW Student Application Form to be considered for one of these highly sought-after places.

The rich experience at CROW enhances their studies in wildlife, conservation medicine or rehabilitation. The bonds formed during the voluntary time at CROW inevitably extend long after the students have left, and many past interns return to CROW as volunteers.

MustDo.com | Rescued Bobcat kitten CROW Sanibel Island, Florida

Photo courtesy C.R.O.W.

As well as providing a much-needed sanctuary for sick, injured and orphaned animals and birds, CROW provides a fascinating and informative visitor attraction. Learn more about it here.

Written by: Gillian Birch | Author Website

Gillian Birch is a freelance travel writer and, whenever possible between trips, she enjoys life in Florida. As the wife of a Master Mariner, she has traveled extensively and lived in some exotic locations all over the world, including the Far East and the Republic of Panama. Describing herself as having "endless itchy feet and an insatiable wanderlust", she continues to explore Florida and further afield, writing about her experiences with wonderful clarity and attention to detail. With a diploma in Journalism from the BCJ, she has published several travel books and ebooks, all available on Amazon under her name. Formerly the Florida Editor for BellaOnline from 2011-13, Gillian is an active member of the International Travel Writers' Alliance and the Gulf Coast Writers' Association, and an enthusiastic guest blogger for MustDo.com Visitor Guides. Learn more about her writing as YourTravelGirl at: www.gillianbirch.com and follow her blog around the world at https://gillianbirch.wordpress.com/