Volunteering with the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center
The entirety of the work done by the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center is made possible solely with the help of our dedicated, professional, and passionate team of volunteers. Our volunteers help our staff to complete a multitude of daily tasks including emergency bird transportation, scrubbing our boardwalks, assistance with academic programs, office/administrative work, enclosure maintenance, and gift shop operations just to name a few key areas. Work done by our volunteers truly can be seen in every corner of the Bird Center, and our team is grateful for every volunteer that is willing to offer their time, energy, and expertise to help us to Keep Them Flying! We strongly encourage anyone that is interested in making an impact in nature conservation efforts in the Florida Keys to investigate how you can best help to preserve our fragile ecosystem, and how you can help the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center to better fulfill it’s mission.
Current Volunteering Opportunities
- Sanctuary Visitor Center Greeter
Sanctuary Visitor Center Greeter
Position Description: Would you like to help to create a friendly, inviting environment at the Bird Center? Volunteer Greeters assist the Bird Center by welcoming visitors to our facilities, and by communicating directly with our visitors to answer questions about our organization. Depending on which facility (Mission Wild Bird or the Sanctuary), Greeters also help the FKWBC staff with smaller projects including mailing efforts, operating a small retail stand, and restocking flyers.
Location(s): Mission Wild Bird Visitor Center and Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary.
Responsibilities: Greeting visitors, answering visitor questions, restocking informational materials such as flyers and newsletters, oversee small retail stand, facilitate retail purchases, and assisting with light administrative tasks (filing, shredding, mailing…etc.).
Benefits: Chance to welcome/chat with visitors; enrollment in the FKWBC Volunteer Rewards Program.
Immediate Supervisor: Volunteer Coordinator.
Qualifications: Enthusiastic, friendly, and readiness to converse with visitors of the Bird Center, ability to use a calculator, willingness to operate a cash register/money-box.
Training: Greeters are trained onsite by the Volunteer Coordinator. Initial training session take less than 30 minutes, and retraining is available when needed or requested.
Scheduling Commitment: Greeters are scheduled for four-hour shifts in the morning (8:00am – 12:00pm) or afternoon (12:00pm – 4:00pm) at both of our locations. Greeters are expected to log at least eight hours of service each month.
- Sanctuary Education Center Docent
Sanctuary Education Center Docent
Position Description: Want to help our visitors fill their brains with tons of cool knowledge related to birds, the Bird Center, and how to better protect our environment? Docents help the Bird Center’s Education Team to personally interact with as many visitors as possible by answering visitor questions, leading tours and other programs, and assisting with community outreach events. Docents help to bridge the gap between our visitors and our work, but most importantly they also help to excite and empower our visitors to become fellow birding amabassadors.
Location(s): Mission Wild Bird Visitor Center and Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary.
Responsibilities: Answer visitor questions, lead small tour groups through the facilities, assist the Education Coordinator with educational outreach event and programs, occasionally check that exhibits appear to be in proper working order, and maintain an up-to-date knowledge of the Bird Center and it’s exhibits including the Exploration Wing at MWB and the residential birds and the Sanctuary.
Benefits: Opportunity to educate visitors about the FKWBC, Florida wildlife and eco-conservation; enrollment in the FKWBC Volunteer Rewards Program.
Immediate Supervisor: Education Coordinator.
Qualifications: Enthusiastic, friendly, and readiness to converse with visitors of the Bird Center, ability to walk throughout the Wild Bird Sanctuary and Mission Wild Bird Visitor Center while teaching visitors. General knowledge of Florida Keys ecosystems and wildlife is preferred, but not required.
Training: Docents are trained onsite by the Education Coordinator and are self-trained offsite as required. Initial training sessions take between forty-five minute and one hour. Retraining is available when requested, and Docents are periodically evaluated by the Education Coordinator.
Scheduling Commitment: Docents are scheduled for four-hour shifts in the morning (8:00am – 12:00pm) or afternoon (12:00pm – 4:00pm) at both of our location. Docents are expected to log at least eight hours of service each month.
- Assistant Sanctuary Technician (AST)
Assistant Sanctuary Technician (AST)
Position Description: AST’s help the FKWBC staff to maintain a heightened level of excellence in the maintenance of our Wild Bird Sanctuary, including the sanctuary’s boardwalk and it’s permanent bird residents. ASTs are our volunteers that don’t mind breaking a sweat or getting their hands dirty to get the job done, but getting to work in the tranquil setting of the Wild Bird Sanctuary is always rewarding. Previous ASTs have assisted with enclosure construction/demolition, removal of invasive plant species, and assisting with the feed out of our non-releasable animals.
Location(s): Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary.
Responsibilities: Assist with cleaning the boardwalk, beach, and other areas of the sanctuary, assist with enclosure maintenance (including changing food/water dishes), work with the FKWBC staff to complete general upkeep and other projects.
Benefits: Opportunity to work outdoors directly in the Sanctuary; enrollment in the FKWBC Volunteer Rewards Program.
Immediate Supervisor: Facilities Maintenance Foreman.
Qualifications: Ability to lift and carry thirty pounds, ability to work outdoors in hot/humid conditions and amongst other elements. Experience in using cleaning supplies (broom, mop, bucket) and other maintenance tools (wheelbarrow, rake, loppers) is preferred, but is not required.
Training: AST’s are trained on-site by the Facilities Maintenance Foreman, the Senior Sanctuary Volunteer, the Volunteer Coordinator, or a combination of the aforementioned staff. Initial training sessions range in length of time between one hour and one full shift.
Scheduling Commitment: AST’s are scheduled for three-hour shifts in the morning (8:00am – 11:00am) during the week (Monday – Friday). AST’s may also be offered the opportunity to assist with other projects that require more time than a regular three-hour shift. AST’s are expected to log at least six hours of service each month.
- Bird Emergency Rescuer (BER)
Bird Emergency Rescuer (BER)
Bird Emergency Rescue volunteers help the FKWBC team to cover the largest avian rescue/rehabilitation territory in all of the Florida Keys; MM 70 – Homestead. FKWBC staff work with BERs to coordinate the rescue of sick/injured birds based on the geographic location of the incident. By sending BERs to pick up a bird in need of rescue, our staff is able to continue to help our other patients while the new patient is en route to our bird hospital at Mission Wild Bird. In most cases every minute counts, and BERs play a vital role in giving our team as much time as possible to save each bird’s life.
Location(s): Upper Keys between MM 70 and Florida City.
Responsibilities: Pick up sick/injured birds from off-site locations, ensure that the injured bird is properly contained, drive patients to MWB hospital, assist staff with completing a patient intake sheet by providing basic information about the rescue.
Benefits: Opportunity to assist the FKWBC staff by bringing birds directly to Mission Wild Bird’s (MWB) hospital wing; enrollment in the FKWBC Volunteer Rewards Program.
Immediate Supervisor: MWB Hospital Manager.
Qualifications: Valid Florida state driver’s license, clean driving record, functional motor vehicle, willingness to take emergency/rescue calls as late as 7:00pm, willingness to transport contained wild birds, ability to communicate with FKWBC staff remotely/off-site (cellphone preferred).
Training: BER’s are trained onsite by the Volunteer Coordinator and the MWB Hospital Manager. Initial training session take less than 30 minutes, and retraining is available when needed or requested.
Scheduling Commitment: BER’s are considered to be on-call volunteers that are utilized when the FKWBC staff is overburdened with daily/evening operations. FKWBC staff coordinate with BER’s in specific locations to minimalize the amount of time between receiving an emergency call and the patient arriving at the MWB Hospital. Given the highly unpredictable frequency of such a need, BER’s are not required to fulfill a specific number of volunteer hours per month.
Position Description: Want to help keep the Bird Center’s Exploration Wing tidy for all of our visitors? At first this may sound like a small, unimportant task, but it’s actually one of the most important jobs at Mission Wild Bird. Our custodial volunteers don’t just work to make sure that our state of the art education center stays clean. By working to keep our Exploration Wing pristine, the experiences shared by our visitors are significantly more enjoyable. This aides our team in making a long lasting impact on our visitors, and it helps us to reinforce the notion that everyone can make a difference is conserving our natural world.
Location(s): Mission Wild Bird’s Exploration Wing.
Responsibilities: Sweeping/mopping of floors, window cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, and other cleaning tasks as needed.
Benefits: Opportunity to assist the FKWBC staff in keeping Mission Wild Bird’s (MWB) Exploration Wing clean for our visitors; enrollment in the FKWBC Volunteer Rewards Program.
Immediate Supervisor: Volunteer Coordinator.
Qualifications: Attention to detail, experience in cleaning tasks such as sweeping, mopping, and window cleaning are preferred, but not required.
Training: Custodians are trained at MWB by the VC. Initial training takes less than thirty minutes, and retraining is available upon request.
Scheduling Commitment: Custodial volunteers are scheduled for shifts ranging in length from thirty minutes to one hour. Custodian shifts are scheduled on all days that the MWB Exploration Wing is open to the public, and they are occasional scheduled at other times in preparation and/or cleanup related to special events. Custodial volunteer shift are scheduled to begin immediately after the Exploration Wing of MWB is closed to the public, or as seen necessary by the VC. Custodial volunteers are expected to log a minimum of twenty hours per year.
- Clinic Assistant
Position Description: Clinical Assistants help our team to fulfill one of the biggest parts of our mission; to rehabilitate sick and injured birds. Aside from the feeling of satisfaction in know that they’ve helped us to save the lives of our patients, CAs also gain a great amount of experience working in an animal-hospital setting. Our team at Mission Wild Birds has to cover a huge variety of behind-the-scenes tasks (ex: cleaning dishes, laundry, feeding patients…etc.), and CAs help us to ensure the prosperity of the over 1,000 patients that we take in on a yearly basis.
Location(s): Mission Wild Bird’s Hospital
Responsibilities: Sweeping/mopping of floors, laundry, scrubbing crates/enclosures, preparing crates/enclosures for patients, washing dishes, general cleaning, assistance maintaining outdoor birdfeeders and water dishes, preparing patient diets, and assist with patient feed out. Occasionally CAs help with short errands (grocery store run) and observe/assist with surgical cases.
Benefits: Gain experience in working directly with birds and in a hospital setting; enrollment in the FKWBC Volunteer Rewards Program.
Immediate Supervisor: Hospital Manager.
Qualifications: Attention to detail, ability to lift and carry 20 pounds, reliable transportation to and from the hospital, comfortable with being around birds in enclosed areas, ability to work in hot/humid conditions.
Training: Clinic Assistants receive on-the-job training by the hospital staff. Initial training takes place over the course of one full shift, and retraining is available upon request or as needed.
Scheduling Commitment: Clinical Assistants are scheduled for three-hour shifts that take place in the morning (7:30am – 10:30am) and/or afternoon (1:00pm – 4:00pm). CA shifts are scheduled every day of the week. Occasionally (especially during the “slow seasons”) shifts may end early, as seen fit by the hospital staff. CA are required to log a minimum of at least six hours of service each month.
Disclaimer: Due to the potential of contracting airborne pathogens and the presence of potential allergy agents, we do not recommend this volunteering position to those that may unintentionally spread disease and ailments to other individuals or groups of people. While one of the largest benefits of working as a CA includes working directly with animals, please keep in mind that our hospital is a working environment, and our patients are wild animals that require to use of safe, professional handling practices.
There are no monetary fees or donation requirements associated with volunteering with our organization, but all volunteer positions do require the submission of an application, background check, interview, facilities tour, and training by our staff. Upon submission, all volunteer applications are required to sit for a minimum of 24 hours before being reviewed and approved by the Volunteer Coordinator. Most of the positions listed above require the prospective volunteer to be at least 18 years of age, but youth volunteering position are available. Many of our volunteers working in multiple areas of interest, and cross training is available.
The First Step
All of our prospective volunteers are encouraged to complete and submit a volunteering application. Applications can be downloaded below, and are also available at our administrative offices; 92080 Overseas Highway, Tavernier, Florida 33070. Once you application has been completed it should be returned to Kyle L’Hommedieu at our administrative offices. Applications can be sent via scan/email, snail mail, or dropped off in person.
For more information about a specific volunteering opportunity or about volunteering with the FKWBC in general please feel free to email or call Kyle L’Hommedieu at firstname.lastname@example.org or (305) 852-4486 ext. 702.
UPDATE (5/19/2016): Congratulations to our All-Star Volunteer, Ken Lorber! Ken was recently given the Champions of Service award by Volunteer Florida for his outstanding service to our team and our mission to conserve wildlife. Mr. Lorber volunteers with the Bird Center seven days per week, for nine hours per day. Last year Ken logged over 3,000 volunteer hours (seriously, we’re not making that up), and Ken is easily one of the most important teammates that we have. Thank you, Ken, for everything that you do to help us to Keep Them Flying!