My First Day Volunteering at CWC

By Cindy Tansin, Volunteer

As a volunteer, my secret motivation for working at CWC was for the thrill of getting an up close sneak peek at wildlife that I would normally only get to admire from afar – if I was lucky.  I volunteered to answer phones, because that’s what was needed. A small thing, yet obviously important.

My Day One couldn’t have been more exciting and wonderful. Phones weren’t particularly busy that day, so after my initial lesson on phone and intake protocols, I was introduced to Eva, another volunteer, to help with kitchen duties. Eva was on her way to the upper enclosures.  She handed me some food dishes and showed me how she changed out the cages.  Much to my surprise, she asked if I wanted to do the next one, and I jumped at the opportunity.

Upon entering the bird’s world (don’t ask me which species), I tiptoed in as it stood by watching warily, changed out the food and water, and I was pumped! Back at the kitchen, Eva began training me on how to prep the next day’s meals. It was fascinating. They had very specific recipes for more species than I could have ever named. In between chopping, plating and labeling, I fielded phone calls.

I learned how to re-nest baby squirrels, how to deal with a crying young coyote who couldn’t find his way out of a construction area, and how to handle a crow with a broken wing. All in all, it was a very thrilling day for someone who signed on only expecting to answer phones.

I thought Day One couldn’t have been more exciting until I experienced Day Two. I came in on my second day with a spring in my step ready to report to duty.  On this morning I got to work primarily in ICU.  I was immediately shown how to feed a baby hummingbird and tasked with strict instructions to do timed feedings every 20 minutes throughout my shift. Then I was asked to feed an injured squirrel, which didn’t go so well.  I got more food on his feet than in his mouth. I cleaned and restocked a hawk’s cage while he was being treated and checked.  I held some form of large bird in a towel while he was tube fed. Throughout the morning I prepped meals.  The phone rang regularly with calls from good-hearted citizens asking advice on a variety of situations.  It was heartwarming how much they cared and how willing they were to help.

I learned two overriding lessons in my first two days. 1) Get a picture from callers.  Being able to to accurately identify the animal is the #1 starting point. 2) I love this place.  I love what they do.  I love the spirit and the people who work here.  And there’s never a dull moment.

I am a humble phone answerer who is so happy to do all kinds of “mundane”/exciting side duties to help the cause.  We are blessed to share our planet with these creatures.  We are obligated to respect and care for them and their habitat so they can thrive and fulfill our lives with their presence.  I can’t wait for day three!

1 reply
  1. Donna
    Donna says:

    Loved your story Cindy! I volunteered at CWC for almost 9 years..and I can tell you, it
    will only get better! Pretty soon, you will have no trbl identifying the various birds an
    mammals. Good luck to you!

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