South Florida Wildlife Center

Volunteer Spotlight: The Journey of Stefanie Ouellette at South Florida Wildlife Center

Volunteer Spotlight: The Journey of Stefanie Ouellette at South Florida Wildlife Center

Welcome to our Volunteer Spotlight series, where we delve into the incredible stories of individuals who have dedicated their time and efforts to help us achieve our mission. Today, we are excited to introduce you to Stefanie Ouellette, a weekend volunteer who has had an impactful journey through various roles at our center.

What inspired Stefanie to get involved?

Stefanie’s introduction to the South Florida Wildlife Center was through her work running the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation. Her team used to bring birds to SFWC for rehabilitation and care. The commitment to wildlife rescue and rehabilitation she witnessed at our center left a lasting impression on her. Inspired to be part of this meaningful mission, she initially joined the Rehab area, where she started by preparing food for the animals.

Stefanie’s Progression Through the Center

Starting her journey in the Rehab area, Stefanie quickly mastered her role. She moved on to the nursery, where she contributed to the nurturing of younger wildlife patients. Her passion didn’t stop there. Stefanie soon transitioned into the clinic, participating in more specialized roles, including feeding and medical care.

What’s Syringe Feeding vs Gavage Feeding?

Two commonly used feeding techniques in wildlife rehabilitation are syringe feeding and gavage feeding.

  • Syringe Feeding: This method is often employed for animals that require a softer approach. Food is placed in a syringe and is directly placed into the animal’s mouth. This method is less stressful for animals who can eat on their own but may need some assistance.
  • Gavage Feeding: Also known as tube feeding, this method is used for animals that are unable or unwilling to eat on their own. A tube is carefully inserted into the stomach, and a nutrient-rich liquid diet is delivered directly.

Both methods have their own set of pros and cons and are employed based on the animal’s specific needs and health condition.

About Our Impact: By the Numbers

To truly grasp the scope of what volunteers like Stefanie contribute to, here are some remarkable stats about the South Florida Wildlife Center:

🏥 We are the only wildlife trauma hospital and rehabilitation facility in the Tri-County area that also serves as a teaching hospital for 3rd and 4th-year veterinary students.

📞 We assist over 60,000 Florida residents a year with wildlife emergencies.

💟 All our services are provided free of charge to the community.

🐦 We treat over 5,600 sick, injured, and orphaned birds each year.

🦝 The most common mammal we admit is the Virginia Opossum, with 1,431 admitted in 2022 alone.

🦝🐾 We also help 750 raccoons each year.

🌿 We are essential in rescuing and protecting the biodiversity of the Everglades and Florida.

About the Volunteer Program

As a South Florida Wildlife Center Volunteer, you are vital to the success of our programs in education, rehabilitation, and conservation. You will interact with an incredibly diverse range of animals and people, either at the Center or out in the community. This program offers a plethora of opportunities for you to serve in a way that assists our staff in achieving our goals and provide much-needed support.

Age Restrictions:

  • Those under 16 are not eligible to volunteer on SFWC property.
  • Students aged 16-17 have specific requirements, including mandatory orientation with a parent or guardian and a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer work in three months.

The purpose of this volunteer program is not just to assist our center but to offer meaningful service opportunities that further our mission and provide personal satisfaction to our volunteers.

If Stefanie’s story has inspired you to make a difference, check out our Volunteer Program to learn how you can get involved.

Listen to the full interview with Stefanie: