Summer Volunteer Program

What You Need to Know About the Summer Volunteer Program

The Wildlife Medical Clinic (WMC) is a nonprofit, volunteer-operated, donation-funded clinic within the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Volunteers, under the supervision of the Medical Director, the WMC veterinary interns, and two student managers, are responsible for the intake, care, and release of all animals admitted to the clinic. Summer student interns also help run the clinic. Volunteer group size varies year-to-year, around twelve to sixteen members

The program begins the Saturday after finals in May and goes through the Friday before school starts in August. Volunteers must sign up for a minimum of 4 shifts per week which is about 20 to 25 hours in the clinic a week, but volunteers are always encouraged to sign up for more than the minimum to gain more experience. 3 shifts will be available to per day, each with set hours of volunteering. Responsibilities include feeding sick, injured, orphaned wildlife, medicating patients in our nursery, food preparation, and helping in clinic maintenance. Volunteers sign up for shifts that work best with their schedules, so there is usually quite a bit of flexibility. Non-university students will be considered on a space-available basis, during the specific application time-frame (detailed below), and following an application and interview process. Working in the WMC is a privilege and a serious responsibility; please consider this when applying.

What You Need to Know About the Ambassador Animal Volunteer Program

The Wildlife Medical Clinic cares for several native and non-native ambassador animals. These animals serve as representatives of their species and provide the public a chance to learn about our amazing native wildlife in an up-close setting. You can learn more about our current ambassador animals here! If you are part of a group that is interested in an educational event with us, click here!

The ambassador animal care/ Wildlife Ambassador program allows Wildlife Medical Clinic members and undergraduate students to work closely with our permanent ambassador animals (Wildlife Ambassadors) allowing them to gain knowledge in animal husbandry and behavior. This provides veterinary and pre-veterinary students hands-on educational opportunities that are usually not provided in the didactic curriculum. Student volunteers are the primary caretakers and trainers for our ambassador animals. They build their skills in reptile and raptor handling, as well as learn how to provide enrichment to captive species.

During the summer, each ambassador team member is assigned one day a week to work with and care for individual ambassador animals. Volunteers typically begin as trainees and reptile caretakers and they are gradually able to move up to working with our birds of prey if they desire. Volunteers are expected to feed, clean, and exercise or train their assigned animals, as well as assist with general maintenance tasks in the ambassador room.

The program requires a weekly time commitment of approximately two hours for trainees, reptile caretakers, and single bird handlers. All volunteers are expected to attend at least one public outreach event during each semester, and mentors (more senior volunteers) are expected to attend two. These events are the core of what we do as a program: educating the public about wildlife.

Qualification & Requirements

Application and Requirements to Apply:

Must be a University of Illinois student in good standing

University regulations require that the applicant be associated with the University of Illinois by being a student, faculty, or staff member.

Must have a current rabies vaccination

All volunteers must complete a full set of rabies vaccinations prior to beginning work in the WMC (series of 3 vaccinations). Volunteers must maintain rabies vaccination currency during their entire tenure at the WMC. Proof of vaccination must be on file in the clinic prior to being assigned to a team. A rabies vaccination titer is highly recommended following completion of the rabies vaccination series.

The rabies vaccination series can be completed through the University of Illinois Mckinley Health Services. Additional information can be found at:

We understand that some students may have financial constraints, so we will allow students to submit all other application materials first, receive conditional approval, and then begin their rabies series. Our deadlines provide applicants enough time to complete all requirements before the beginning of each semester.

Must submit one letter of recommendation

The letter of recommendation should focus on animal experience, leadership and management skill, and maturity. The letter should be from an individual familiar with your interest in and experience with animals.

Must submit an updated resume and personal statement

Your resume should reflect previous animal-related experience and interest in veterinary medicine and/or wildlife. A brief personal statement (less than one page) should outline your motivation and goals for volunteering at the WMC.

Must have a method of transportation to the WMC

A personal automobile is preferred. In the absence of a personal automobile, bus access is acceptable. Bicycles are also an acceptable mode of transportation during the summer months.

Must submit material fee once accepted

A $10.00 material fee will be required once accepted into the program. This will cover the cost of the access badge necessary for volunteers. Payment must be in the form of cash or check; credit cards or other online payments are not accepted. Please make checks out to the University of Illinois Foundation. The fee will be collected at the time of the volunteer orientation.

When to Apply

The summer volunteer application is OPEN NOW. It is required that the personal statement and resume are uploaded to this box link. Please have your letter of recommendation be sent directly from the recommender to It is also necessary to complete the online application form (Click here to apply)  to complete your application.

Application Deadline

The summer application deadline is April 12th.

Interviews & Orientation

Applicants will be contacted and provided a status no later than one week following the application deadline. Applicants are required to attend an interview, after which the volunteers for that year will be selected within the week.

Volunteers will need to attend a generalized clinic orientation on April 25th. After orientation, volunteers will be responsible for signing up for shifts weekly. They will be supervised by the clinic managers and summer interns.

Policy waivers

The Medical Director may waive any policy set forth in this document and may delegate waiver authority for specific items to the Student Managers.

Waiver requests for specific policies set forth in this document should be forwarded to the Medical Director, in writing, via the Student Managers.

Requirements to Stay a Volunteer Once Accepted 

Must complete the minimum number of required shifts per week and demonstrate reliability.

Volunteers must sign up for a minimum of 4 shifts. There will be three shifts available per day: 7:30 AM-11AM, 11:30AM-3:30PM, and 5:00PM-9PM. Total hours will be roughly 15-20 hours per week, but volunteers are always encouraged to sign up for more than the minimum to gain more experience. Volunteers sign up for shifts that work best with their schedules, so there is usually quite a bit of flexibility.