baby gerbils foster

Youth Volunteer Opportunities: Animal-Loving Kids

Youth volunteer opportunities engage kids while teaching patience, compassion, and dedication – not to mention hard work! Volunteering is a way for your animal-obsessed child to interact with animals – without a long-term pet commitment.

Your kids can make a big difference in the lives of animals in need.

Considerable youth volunteer opportunities are available locally and even internationally, depending on age, availability, experience, and comfort level.

The Benefits of Volunteering for Kids

  • Make a difference
  • Make new friends
  • Help others and animals in need
  • Learn responsibility and compassion
  • Learn new skills
  • Find a purpose
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Engage in community service
  • Experience the joy that comes from caring
  • Learn to value hard work
  • Have fun!
  • And so much more!

How to find youth volunteering Opportunities

Check with your local humane society. You can search wildlife sanctuaries, rescues, or small animal rescue centers. You may be surprised to learn of many places in your local area that need help.

Some farms even offer volunteering opportunities – kids can help care for a variety of farm animals and help around the farm with duties. Some even offer community service hours.

Kids can help with dogs, cats, bunnies, hamsters, and other small animals – or even wildlife.

Working with wildlife requires a little forethought. These animals are not pets and need as little handling as possible. Some require tetanus shots or other vaccines, depending on the wildlife you would like to work with – but this is optional since many types of care don’t require those vaccines (especially if there is no handling involved).

TIP: If your child loves a specific animal, do some web digging about volunteering opportunities with that particular animal.

For example, does your kid love marine life or want to be a biologist? Ripleys Aquariums offer a ‘Marine Teen’ volunteer program! See

TRY Local Youth Volunteering Opportunites

For some examples of types of volunteering for wildlife care, see the Toronto Wildlife Centre

Your own area may have many similar opportunities.

Toronto Wildlife Centre

The South Florida Wildlife Center has volunteer options, fostering, and internships. Just do a little searching.

Give It a Try!

If you’re feeling a little timid about trying it, start small. When you see that glow in your child’s eyes as they realize their little hands have helped an animal in need, the joy you’ll feel will be incomparable.

International Youth Volunteering

Youths can volunteer to work with elephants, giraffes, kangaroos, turtles, and sloths!!

Africa, Australia, Costa Rica, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal!

(Photo courtesy of

This is a much larger scale and may not be for everyone (and it’s expensive). But we wanted to include this option to show that getting involved has no end, and some experiences can be extraordinary.

We have no experience with GoEco, and we are not endorsing them but are just using it as an example if it’s something your truly passionate kids are interested in. You can use this as a gateway to search for other ways to get involved in your area (and with minimal cost).

Rated the Top Volunteer Organization of 2018 by GoAbroad, they are an eco-tourism company with a varied selection of volunteer projects abroad (there are A LOT). They focus on voluntourism vacations. Some projects, like the Zimbabwe African Wildlife Orphanage, offer family packages. Talk about a unique family vacation!

Their website says: “We act as a gateway to over 150 extraordinary community, wildlife, and environmental initiatives all over the world thanks to our great partnerships. Our providers are well diversified, ranging from local community groups to renowned global organizations. Our projects are carefully vetted to ensure every volunteer experience meets our standards and yours.”

We would love to know if anyone does try something like this and what your experience was!

Here is one video from GoEco Costa Rica:

adopt an elephant

Adopt A Dolphin, or a Whale – or a Lion!

There are many cool honorary animal adoption programs (you even get some cool bracelets and GPS tracking with some!)

Dolphins, Whales, Sea Turtle, Elephants (Meet Edison), Polar Bears

Zoo & Preserves

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