Volunteers are at the heart of our work at The Raptor Center (TRC). Without the help of more than 300 current volunteers, we could not treat the nearly 1,000 raptors we see in the clinic nor educate the tens of thousands of public individuals we reach each year. Many of our volunteers donate their time for many years—in some cases, even decades.
Dorothy Kelly is the TRC volunteer with the longest number of consecutive years volunteering. She first joined us in October of 1982 when her daughter invited her to a volunteer interest meeting. Kelly agreed to go with the caveat “I’m not volunteering for anything” due to other volunteer commitments. Cut to 38 years later and Kelly remains an integral part of our volunteer team.
Currently, Kelly leads walk-in tours in our public visitor center as part of a weekly education volunteer team, sharing her vast knowledge of raptors and the environment with all who stop in. Education crews like the one Kelly is on are an integral component of our work. In 2019, these teams reached nearly 7,000 people who walked in for public tours. In addition to these daily education crews, we also have volunteer teams responsible for the rescue and transport of injured raptors, the handling of raptor patients in our clinic, the building and repair of equipment, and the rehabilitative exercise of birds prior to release.
Kelly enjoys caring for the birds, but the people make volunteering at The Raptor Center a joy. “The people all have the same goal, and there’s a camaraderie that’s rare to find in a volunteer group,” Kelly says. “The staff and volunteers have made a wonderful atmosphere where we respect and appreciate each other. It’s really fun!”