Lend your time & Talent to helping wildlife!

Do you have passion for our work and want to get involved hands-on?

We have a variety of volunteering opportunities to explore!





For those who love working directly with animals and are excited about interesting, messy, and oh-so-rewarding work.

Our on-site animal care volunteers are vital to our patient care program at Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary. With hundreds of wild animals in need of care, many hands truly do make light(er) work! 

All of our animal care volunteers become Category VI wildlife rehabilitators through the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. Animal care volunteers must be 16 years old at minimum.  Usually, our animal care volunteers come out for a 3-4 hour shift once per week, depending on what works best for their schedule.

Animal care volunteers assist with all aspects of wildlife care, including (but not limited to): 
  • Bottle-feeding baby mammals
  • Handfeeding baby birds
  • Prepping meals
  • Washing dishes
  • Doing laundry
  • Cleaning and setting up outdoor enclosures
  • Prepping enrichment
  • Building and fixing enclosures 

We train our volunteers on-the-job through a paced but interactive program. We like to have folks interested in this opportunity come out for a trial day where you'll shadow our rehab team and see our facility to ensure it's a mutually good fit. (We're not kidding when we say wildlife care is mostly cleaning!) From there, we'd walk you through the permitting process. Depending on the time of year, we may not have shadow shift availability, but please reach out if you are interested in getting involved! 

For those who enjoy scenic drives and helping injured and orphaned animals get to the professional care they need.

Unfortunately, wild animals don't know how to drive! Okay, perhaps that's actually quite fortunate. Until then, though, we could use some helpful human hands (and cars). 

Sometimes rescuers who have found animals in need are not able to drive the animal to us themselves. In those instances, we connect them with RWS transporters in their area. The rescuer calls the transporter to see if they're interested/available to bring the critter they found to RWS that day. We require rescuers to contain the animal ahead of time, so our transporters are not directly handling any wildlife and there is no risk to you or your vehicle. We also occasionally need transporters to help transport patients from RWS to another facility for continued care. You simply help the animal get where it needs to go! 

This commitment is as-often-as-you'd-like, based on your availability and interest.

We take care of nearly 1,000 patients annually, so we end up needing a lot of space for those rehabilitated orphaned animals to go!  Folks who own property can volunteer to have their land added to our list of wildlife release sites. 

Often our staff will do the releases themselves after getting permission from the property owner to show up on a pre-scheduled day. However, we are always happy to have release site volunteers participate in releases, whether by spectating or by picking patients up from the Sanctuary to release back at their home. Rehabilitation patient releases are truly magical. 

Generally, we look for properties that are heavily wooded, at least 2 miles from a busy road (like Rt. 29), and do not have any feral or outdoor cats, including barn cats. A staff member will come out for a site visit first to check out the land and answer any questions you might have. 

For those who own property and wish to have our successfully rehabilitated wild animals released there!

There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer for Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary from a desk (or a couch!). We welcome volunteers interested in event planning, fundraising, marketing, photography and videography, connecting with corporate sponsors, managing our website, database organization, and other tasks. If you have an area of interest or specific skills you'd like to apply to the Sanctuary, please get in touch with us! We'd love to hear from you. 

We do occasionally have openings available on our Board of Directors. Should you be interested in joining our Board, please contact us using the form below. 

For those who want to lend their unique skillsets to the vital "behind the scenes" work at the Sanctuary!

Please note that we are closed to the public in order to maintain a natural setting for our wildlife patients. We do offer the ability to schedule a tour or small group viewing, but these must be scheduled in advance. Please email us at info@rockfishwildlifesanctuary.org if you are interested in scheduling a tour. We look forward to sharing RWS with you!
Due to a high volume of requests, we are unable to schedule educational programs until the beginning of fall 2024.


5450 Wheelers Cove Rd.
Shipman, VA 22971

Our phone number should be used for wildlife emergencies. If you have other general inquiries, we would appreciate you contacting us via email or the contact us form so we can keep our phone line open for wildlife in need. Thank you!          

We are open 365 days per year. We accept new patients between 9AM-4PM. Call first, please!

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2024 © Copyright Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. EIN 51-0498181.
Thank you for supporting our mission to help native wildlife in Virginia and beyond.