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Wildlife Rehabilitation Internship - Spring 2023

Applications are currently being accepted for candidates 18 years or older interested in a rehabilitation internship at a wildlife refuge in the Florida panhandle. The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge (ECWR) is a non-profit organization, which means the internship positions are unpaid. Interns should have a reliable mode of transportation and are responsible for securing their own housing for the duration of the internship. (However, there is a possibility that ECWR will be able to provide free housing for the duration of the internship period, but this is not guaranteed as it is dependent on ECWR receiving a special grant to fund this, so please be sure to look into the cost of housing for this area to see if you are financially stable enough to support yourself with housing here.) The internship duration is 5 days (~40 hours) per week for a minimum of 15 weeks (can be longer if desired) and interns will be scheduled to meet the needs of the refuge. The facility is open 7 days a week from 8am-4pm; staff and interns work until all tasks are finished for the day, which can lead to extended hours during busy seasons. 

Our internship program is designed to provide rehabilitation training that focuses on native Florida wildlife. With this training, the intern will be able to participate in actual patient care and practice hands-on wildlife rehabilitation skills. Interns are trained under the direct guidance of our licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator, who also teaches weekly lectures and lab activities to the interns in order to provide as much information as possible throughout the internship. The experience gained from this immersion into the world of wildlife rehabilitation and animal husbandry is extremely beneficial to those who are contemplating careers in the fields of veterinary medicine, wildlife management, wildlife rehabilitation, conservation, biology, or zoology. 

Internship Session Dates:
Spring (February to May) – application deadline November 15th  
*Individual internship start and end dates can be flexible to accommodate students and their academic calendars.*

Learning opportunities: 
  • Hands-on wildlife experience through proper handling, feeding, and rehabilitation procedures.
  • Neonatal care with a multitude of avian and mammalian species.
  • Animal husbandry experience with a variety of wildlife species for permanent residents as well as rehabilitation patients. This includes proper cleaning procedures and understanding the importance of appropriate enrichment for captive animals.
  • Understanding nutritional requirements for native Florida species based on the time of year (seasonal diets).
  • Exposure to the operations of a non-profit organization and a wildlife rehabilitation center. 
  • Knowledge of humane coexistence with wildlife, natural animal behaviors, and reuniting babies with parents.
  • Performing initial exams and assessments of injured native wildlife such as raptors, songbirds, shorebirds, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, opossums, deer, and turtles/tortoises. 
  • Learning to calculate medicine dosages, administer fluids, give injections, bandage techniques, etc.
  • Observe/assist with marine mammal and sea turtle strandings/necropsies, as needed (not guaranteed).

Intern responsibilities: 
  • Complete daily exhibit/cage cleaning.
  • Prepare diets, feed animals, and record appetite.
  • Handle and restrain various wildlife species. 
  • After hours care for avian and mammalian neonates. 
  • Assist in rescuing injured and orphaned wildlife; assist in releasing animals when ready.
  • Create and provide enrichment activities to resident animals.
  • Administer medications and treatments to wildlife patients. 
  • Answer the wildlife hotline for animals in distress and to answer the public’s inquiries. 
  • Monitor animal areas and provide exemplary guest service to visitors. 
  • Convey potential problems to staff members. 
  • Train new volunteers on various animal care tasks. 
  • Assist with general housekeeping and other duties as assigned. 

  • Must be pursuing a relevant degree or have a strong passion to work in this field.
  • Ability to control the urge to play with and/or pet the wildlife.
  • Ability to lift, push, or pull 30 pounds.
  • Ability to stand, walk, kneel, bend, etc. for extended periods of time.
  • Ability to work outdoors in all weather conditions, especially high heat.
  • Exposure to mosquitoes and other small insects is likely. 
  • Ability to cope with the preparation of meat-based diets for animals in our care.
  • Ability to do basic math calculations. 
  • Ability to understand basic medical terminology. 
  • Ability to understand decision-making concerning quality of life issues and euthanasia for animal patients.
  • Once trained, must be able to work with minimal supervision, yet must recognize limitations in knowledge and abilities and ask for help when needed. 
  • Ability to work independently for long periods of time, as well as work in a professional manner within a team atmosphere with other interns/volunteers/staff. 

Please note: ECWR does not provide a stipend or transportation for this internship. All intern candidates should ensure they have their own reliable mode of transportation throughout the internship that can also aid in the rescue and transport of various wildlife (ie: motorcycles are not ideal transport method to have). 

To apply, please email a cover letter and resume to:
 Michelle Pettis, Intern Coordinator -