Volunteer Program at OWCN

With the announcement of our new training program, I thought I’d take some time to explain the three types of Volunteers within the volunteer program of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network.

(1) Spontaneous Volunteers

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In medium and larger spills we may ask the public for their help

Spontaneous Volunteers are not affiliated with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network prior to a spill. These are members of the public that see an ongoing spill in their area, and want to contribute to the effort. If there is a spill and we need volunteers, OWCN would send out announcements via OSPR and the media, and then sign Spontaneous Volunteers up for volunteer shifts. Typically, Spontaneous Volunteers have no prior experience working with animals or in spill response, but can provide a valuable service by helping with non-animal care activities, such as cleaning cages, administrative tasks, and preparing animal diets. Additionally, dedicated Spontaneous Volunteers may get on the job training to help out with animal care if needed. Normally we only utilize Spontaneous Volunteers in medium or larger size spills, and only after we have tapped into the OWCN volunteer pool.

Spontaneous Volunteers sometimes do have animal care experience, or are even volunteers with one of our Member Organizations, however, they have not registered as an OWCN volunteer in our database. Remember that it if you volunteer with one of our Member Organizations and want to participate in oiled wildlife response during an oil spill, you need to register as an OWCN volunteer before the start of a spill (contact the primary OWCN contact at your Member Organization for details on how to sign up).

(2) Affiliated Volunteers

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OWCN Member Organizations

Affiliated Volunteers either work or volunteer at one of our 30+ Member Organizations around the state (check out our map by clicking here), and have registered in the OWCN Responder Database. These volunteers receive valued hands-on training just by doing their normal staff or volunteer work at their Member Organization. These people are easily identified for potential spill response because they are listed in our database, and will have the opportunity to sign up for volunteer shifts during active spill responses.

Typically, our Affiliated Volunteers do not choose to participate in our optional training program, or they take only some of the basic online classes. They are still very valuable to us during spill response, especially because they are pre-identified as potential responders in our database, allowing for quick communication and mobilization into a spill volunteer role, and tend to have animal care experience.

(3) Pre-Trained Volunteers

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Volunteers wash birds during the Ventura Oiled Bird Incident

Pre-Trained Volunteers, like Affiliated Volunteers, work or volunteer at one of our 30+ Member Organizations around the state, and have registered in the OWCN Responder Database, making them easily identified by us as potential spill responders. They also gain valued hands on experience just by doing their normal work with their Member Organization. Unlike our Affiliated Volunteers, our Pre-Trained Volunteers will have completed both our Core webinar series and our upcoming new Basic Responder class. These extra trainings give our Pre-Trained Volunteers added experience and knowledge of how the OWCN operates during spill response. As a perk for taking our training courses, Pre-Trained Volunteers will have the opportunity to self-assign themselves to volunteer shifts during spill response, rather than waiting to be selected to volunteer like our other volunteers. Additionally, our Pre-Trained Volunteers will have the opportunity to take our advanced level training courses, where they will become eligible to respond as staff during a spill, if we need to fill positions.

If you have any questions about our volunteer program, or are interested in participating further, please email me at baelias@ucdavis.edu

-Becky

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