The Rewards of Volunteering

By Recker McDowell —

Nancy Grant has volunteered at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale the past 8 years.

“I’m involved in animal care and releasing animals back into the wild,” Grant said.

The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center rescues, rehabilitates, and cares for wild animals including wolves, coyotes, foxes, bears, mountain lions, raccoons and javelinas.

Grant said she volunteers weekly at SWCC and finds the working and caring for animals in need very rewarding.

“I make sure the animals have fresh water and food. The bobcats are one of my favorites. I love giving them enrichments which are paper sacks filled with straw and scents. It makes all of us smile when they rub and play with the sacks,” Grant said.

“All of the animals at SWCC are fun to be around but the bobcats are the most rewarding. They’re always watching what you are doing when you are in their enclosure and love the enrichments, I give them,” she said.

Robin Wilson, volunteer coordinator at SWCC, said volunteers are essential for the wildlife center’s operations including the rescue and care of animals. The center sees an influx of orphaned, injured, and displaced wild animals in the summer months during wildfire season, Wilson said.

Grant has also volunteered at horse rescues and rehab facilities as well as dog rescues in Arizona and Texas.

Southwest Wildlife releases some wild animals it rescues out into the wild while others stay and are cared at the center’s sanctuary for health reasons.

“If animals can’t take care of themselves and can’t be returned to the wild it’s very comforting to know that they have a forever home at SWCC,” Grant said.

She said being able to release animals back into the wild is most rewarding.

“I must say the most rewarding part of my volunteer job is releasing an animal back into the wild. Either they blast out of their carrier or they are timid and slowly emerge. I always wish them the best and to be brave. It’s a great feeling that I was a small part of their life when I see them run into the forest or run toward the river,” Grant said.

Volunteers such as Grant are the backbone of our community. They are the ones helping animals in need at nonprofits such as Southwest Wildlife. They are helping our homeless and transient neighbors. They are helping school kids in need of supplies, computers and help with their reading or math. They are helping seniors who might not have family nearby who need help navigating COVID-19.

All these needs and causes have been impacted by COVID and its impacts on health and the economy. Nonprofit groups helping our community deserve our support and time. And volunteers such as Nancy Grant deserve our praise and accolades.

You can find more information on how to volunteer at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center here.