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Nevins Farm Volunteer Program

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Want to devote your time to helping homeless animals in need? Volunteer at the MSPCA! Please read descriptions of our two volunteer program below, and choose which one is appropriate for you!

Volunteer Philosophy

Volunteers are an integral part of the MSPCA team and are critical to the success of our mission. Through their unique talents, skill, knowledge and care, volunteers improve the lives of the animals we touch through our programs and in our communities. The staff offers a well-structured volunteer experience with an orientation, mentorship sessions, and subsequent specialized trainings. We provide an inclusive and integrated culture of support, treating each other with kindness and care. Together, staff and volunteers act as positive role models, demonstrating the organizational values of Excellence, Collaboration, Positivity, Service, Integrity and Compassion as we strive to support animals in our community and the people that love them.

Are you or your child under 16 years of age?

Check out our volunteer opportunities through our Humane Education programs.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is there a minimum age to volunteer?

Per our liability insurance, you must be 16 or older to volunteer in either our Traditional Volunteer Program or Community Service Program. Those 16 and 17 will be required to obtain and turn in a MA Youth Work Permit prior to volunteering. Under 16? Please check out our Humane Education webpage for information on staff-supervised family and youth programs.

What’s the time commitment?

At Nevins, we require a minimum monthly commitment of 4 hours for the Traditional Volunteer Program. In most volunteer areas that’s easily done in 1 shift. You must be able to commit to at least six months of volunteering. Some volunteers have been with us upwards of 20 years! Not able to commit to six months? Our Community Service Program could be an option. Click here to learn more!

I need community service hours this weekend! Can I drop in to volunteer?

All volunteers must go through our full onboarding process. We cannot have people drop in to volunteer. If you have been assigned hours for school or court, you can learn more about our Community Service Program here.

Can I just volunteer to pet/read to/play with animals?

While socialization is important, it is part of a larger volunteer role. You must be willing to do everything involved in volunteering, not just the “fun” stuff! Emptying litterboxes, mucking stalls, picking up after a dog you walked in the rain or snow, scrubbing dirty food bowls, and washing loads (and loads) of soiled bedding are all part of volunteer life here at Nevins.

What are the options?

We have many volunteer areas, including: barn, cat, dog, small animal, Tack Box, answering phones, assisting with retail stocking, and limited roles in our surgery suite. Pick one, and we’ll get you started! (You can add on another area later, if you’d like.) Dogs are our most requested area, which means you may experience an extended wait time to complete the onboarding process. Surgical volunteer roles are limited to those 18+, and are not a training program. You will be doing support tasks such as sterilizing instruments. Observation of surgeries is not allowed, as it can affect the work of the vets and techs.

What will I be doing?

The short answer is caring for and cleaning up after our animals. Brief descriptions of core volunteer tasks in each animal care area are below:

Barn – Mucking stalls, cleaning our coop and pig barn, feeding poultry and waterfowl, picking paddocks, putting out hay for horses, general barn cleaning and maintenance, and providing socialization and enrichment for staff-approved animals. This is a very physical volunteer role, and you will be outside year-round in all weather except lightning. Our barn and outbuildings have neither heat nor AC. You should be able to lift at least 40 pounds and be able to navigate uneven terrain.

Cat – Replacing soiled litter and bedding, feeding and watering, washing floors, assisting with laundry and dishes, and providing socialization and enrichment to cats. Later on in your volunteering career, you may also be able to assist with introducing cats to potential adopters.

Dog – Cleaning kennels, feeding and watering, cutting up hot dogs and cheese for treats, providing enrichment such as food puzzles, assisting with laundry and dishes, and walking dogs. Notice how walking dogs was listed last? Through intake and behavior evaluations, our dogs are leveled 1-4, or Staff Only. When you begin as a volunteer, you start at level 1. Through time and training, you can advance through the levels. We have fewer dogs at Level 1 and Level 2. That means the majority of your volunteer time is often not spent walking dogs. It’s worth it to put your time in and stick with us, because we really need volunteers to stay on and reach Level 3 and Level 4! Dog volunteers must be able to be outside year-round in all weather, except lightning.

Small Animal – Changing soiled bedding, feeding and watering, socializing our tiniest guests, and assisting with dishes and laundry. If you like variety, this is the place for you! Individuals with severe nut allergies should take care in this area, as food for exotic birds can contain nuts. If a nut allergy is of concern, it is possible to volunteer in this area and not care for the birds.

Where do you need the most help?

The Tack Box is an equine resale shop that raises funds for our Equine and Farm Animal Programs. It is open weekends from 12-4. If you can spare at least one weekend day a month, and enjoy interacting with customers, please consider volunteering here!

I am looking for an internship with large animals, for vet school

We’re sorry, but we are not able to offer this.

Can I foster a puppy/kitten?

Many animals in need of foster homes are adults who are pregnant, sick, under socialized, or not thriving in a shelter environment. Some may be hospice cases. If you apply to be a foster volunteer, you must be willing to take on more than young, healthy animals. Most animals placed in foster are cats, with a lesser need for small animals, like rabbits or guinea pigs. Dogs are only occasionally placed in foster homes. Interested in fostering? We need you! Apply here.

Do you need people to ride your horses?

While many of our volunteers are accomplished equestrians, only staff are able to ride our horses.

I work/go to school, and can only volunteer on weekends and holidays. Is that possible?

Yes! Our animals need care 7 days a week, including holidays.

I’m looking to place a student or client in a volunteer role.

Please email nevinsvolunteer@mspca.org to discuss if volunteering at Nevins will be an appropriate match for their skills and schedule. If your student or client has never been to Nevins before, a self-guided visit during our public open hours is recommended as the first step.

What is a mentor session?

Volunteers are required to attend one or more mentor sessions before being cleared to volunteer on their own. Mentor sessions are scheduled once you have attended your orientation. They are hands-on training sessions where you will learn the skills necessary for your volunteer role here at Nevins. In addition to walking you through what your volunteer shift will be like, it’s a good chance to ensure that the volunteer role you have signed up for is a good match.

I already know how to handle (insert animal type here). Why do I need to wait for training to begin?

As an MSPCA volunteer, you’ll need to learn the way we do things. This might be different from the way you interact with animals in a home environment. While animals are at our shelter, we have protocols that must be followed for the safety of staff, volunteers, and the animals themselves. We use rewards-based clicker training for our dogs, which new volunteers have often never encountered before.

I would like to work at the MSPCA. Is Nevins hiring?

Open MSPCA positions for all locations can be found on our website, under careers. We cannot take in-person or email applications.

Traditional Volunteer Program

Our traditional Volunteer Program is for those looking for a long-term commitment and encompasses a wide variety of volunteer opportunities.  We are always in need of volunteers to provide hands-on care to the animals, ensuring that the shelter living environment remains safe, clean and as comfortable as possible. Additional opportunities include assisting with office tasks, helping in the retail area, data entry, as well as helping with special events. The opportunities are endless! You will be asked to select your primary volunteer area preference during registration. There is a minimum service requirement of four hours per month for this program, and you must be planning on volunteering for at least six months.

Apply to Volunteer at Nevins Farm

Community Service Program

We are happy to work with local high school or college students seeking community service opportunities for National Honor Society or similar groups.  With certain restrictions, we may allow individuals to fulfill court-ordered community service hours. There is a minimum of ten total hours of service for this program which includes a two-hour training. We are able to offer some of the following tasks for community service projects:
•    doing laundry/dishes
•    office tasks such as filing, copying, etc.
•    sorting donations
•    general cleaning

Apply for Community Service Program

 

Internships

Internships to fulfill school requirements may be offered on a case by case basis. All internships are unpaid. Please note, internships in our surgical area are limited to those who are 18+ and in a veterinary school program. We are unable to provide internships for students seeking large-animal veterinary experience. For more information and to apply, please email your resume to nevinsvolunteer@mspca.org. Please include why you are seeking an internship, as well as any relevant experience or qualifications.

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