Welcome to the Alaska Raptor Center!

We are delighted that you have chosen to join us in our efforts to help Alaska’s wildlife. There are many ways you can help: from hands-on medical work and bird training, to office work, cleaning and maintenance of the facility.

This manual is designed to help answer some of your questions, outline your rights and responsibilities as a volunteer, and give you an idea of how things operate at the Center.

It is our job to help you realize any goals you have at the Center and utilize your talents to best serve the Center’s mission of caring for Alaska’s wildlife. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Ange Grant at  members@alaskaraptor.org.

Thank you for choosing to volunteer at the Alaska Raptor Center.  We look forward to working with you!

Alaska Raptor Center History

The Alaska Raptor Center was established in 1980 in the backyard of two concerned Sitkans, starting with one injured bald eagle. The effort grew, and volunteers treated eagles at their homes until 1983, when they moved to a small shed on the campus of Sheldon Jackson College. In 1991 the Center moved to its present location on 17 acres bordered by the Indian River.

The Center’s staff includes 7 year-round employees, including a full-time contracted veterinarian, rehabilitator and bird curators. This staff is supplemented by the work of nearly 95 volunteers per year, who donate about 2,500 hours of time.

The Center is an IRS-recognized 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation. The Center does not receive any federal, state or local tax money. Funding is provided through visitor programs, donations, memberships, gift shop, grants and private contributions. Approximately 5,000 friend’s worldwide help the Center accomplish its mission of rehabilitation, education and research.

Mission

Founded in 1980, the Alaska Raptor Center is dedicated to helping Sitka and the Earth become more habitable and humane by:

– providing medical treatment for injured bald eagles and other raptors and birds
– educating patrons about Alaska’s birds and environmental conservation
-conducting bald eagle research

In support of this mission, the Center provides outstanding services to a variety of beneficiaries:

  • Each year we treat approximately 100-200 injured bald eagles, hawks, falcons and other wild birds. Their injuries range from gunshot wounds to collisions, electrocutions and poisonings, emaciation and wounds received from fighting with other birds – things that will mean death if not treated at a hospital. We are able to release many of our patients back into the wild, while others, too injured to survive outside of captivity are placed in zoos and other educational programs across the nation. A select few become our “Raptors-in-Residence” – we train, house and display various resident birds to help educate visitors and schoolchildren about raptors and the habitats in which they live.
  • The Center provides 30,000 annual visitors with once-in-a-lifetime wildlife watching opportunities and important education about raptors. Visitors learn that 85 percent of the patients that we treat have wounds caused by contact with humans. As a result, they leave the Center with a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, raptors and the need to care or and protect all animals.
  •  Each year we educate 15,000 schoolchildren through both in-class visits by a live raptor and with multidisciplinary curriculum package for grades 4-6. Our visits to classrooms have a profound impact, giving many children their first experience with true wildlife. It may also be the first step of a lifelong love and care for the planet’s precious species. Similarly, the Center’s “Adopt-a-Raptor” program captures the enthusiasm of today’s youth, providing instruction and “minds-on” learning activities that explore flight adaptations, feeding habits, physiology and nesting behaviors.

Welcome to Sitka!

Click Here for a Sitka Walking Map

Volunteer FAQ's

Where am I going to stay?

There are many listings in Sitka for short-term rentals, B&B’s and hotels. A few good places to search are;  www.sitka.org or the Facebook group, Sitka, AK Housing Leads and www.sitkarentals.com. There is also the Sitka International Hostel, www.sitkahostel.org

Be aware that it may be difficult to find a place to stay from May-September due to all the summer visitors.

How do I get to the Center once I’m in Sitka?

Walk, rent a bike or car. There are taxi services in Sitka as well as a bus line. The Center is located just about a mile from our downtown area, most places are walking distance, just depends on where you are staying. Make sure to ask how far we are from where you are staying so you can plan accordingly. All car rentals are based at the Sitka Airport. If you’d like to see about renting a bicycle, you can visit www.yellowjerseycycles.com

How long can I volunteer for?

As long as you like! The Center accommodates the volunteers’ schedule.

What time of year can I volunteer?

You can volunteer anytime of the year. Our educational birds are housed all year in Sitka and we see patients all times throughout the year.

What is the weather like in Sitka?

Sitka gets all different types of weather, in the summer months it will rain, but you might also see the sunshine. In the winter months, it’s the same as summer. There really is no way to explain the weather for Sitka. Just remember to bring warm and cool clothes, boots and you should be good!

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What should I wear while I’m volunteering?

If you are helping in our Husbandry or Maintenance departments, you’ll want to bring boots, rain gear and warm clothes. The Center has rain gear and boots, if this is a problem for you to bring.

If you are helping in the gift shop, or the office, casual work wear is preferred.

What kind of skills do I need to volunteer?

No special skills are needed to volunteer and help with most projects at the Center. We will provide all training required; if you have professional experience training and handling birds, our staff will evaluate your qualifications individually.

Can I hold an education bird while I’m volunteering at the Center?

If you have completed 30 hours of training through our husbandry department, you may be considered to handle certain education birds. You will NOT have an opportunity to handle any of our educational bald eagles; they are only handled by the curators and no one else.

When can I start working in the clinic?

As soon as you have become familiar with the husbandry department, you will start by observing in the clinic. Once the Veterinarian and the Avian Rehabilitation Coordinator have evaluated you, you may start to assist.

When can I hold a new admit in the clinic?

Once you’ve watched the Clinic Training Video, the Veterinarian and Avian Rehabilitation Coordinator have given the okay and you have become familiar with our husbandry department, staff will assess your work and decide when you can hold a new admit.

Will I get a letter of recommendation when I am done volunteering?

If your volunteerism was a positive experience for both the Center and yourself, then yes.

Can I have a letter sent to my school or job stating how many hours I’ve volunteered?

Yes, we provide letters of completed hours at the Center.