Congratulations! You have decided to become a volunteer at Big Cat Rescue. We look forward to having you join our team and we will strive to provide you with a rewarding and memorable experience.
Big Cat Rescue, accredited by the Global Federation of Sanctuaries, is dedicated to the care of abused, orphaned, abandoned, unwanted, and elderly wild & exotic cats. The operation of this facility is very costly and relies heavily on an active volunteer organization to help offset some of those costs. The volunteers provide the best possible care for the cats living at the sanctuary as well as educate the public about the plight of captive big cats and how legislation can protect these cats from being exploited.
1992: The founders of Big Cat Rescue were at an exotic animal auction, buying llamas, when a man walked in with a terrified six-month old bobcat on a leash. He said she had been his wife’s pet and that she didn’t want her anymore. They brought her home and called her Windsong. Soon after they decided to buy and hand raise a bobcat kitten of their own.
1993: They drove to Minnesota to pick out a few kittens and when they got there it turned out to be a fur farm. The cats were in cages that were several inches deep with layers of fur and feces. There were 56 kittens and they asked if there was that big of a market for them as pets. They were told that whatever didn’t sell for pets would be slaughtered the following year for fur. They brought home all 56 that day and their lives were changed forever. The more they learned about the plight of exotic animals, the more they were awakened to the huge injustice they were suffering as a result of inadequate laws to protect them. They quickly outgrew their four-acre home and in December of 1993 they moved to the present 55-acre Easy Street location.
1995: Big Cat Rescue became a non-profit organization and the work of caring for nearly 100 animals was more than the Founders could do alone. This was when the volunteer program was started.
Present: The volunteer and intern programs are largely responsible for the day-to-day operations of the sanctuary. The sanctuary relies heavily on volunteers for cleaning, feeding, animal care, grounds maintenance, cleaning guest and volunteer areas, administrative tasks such as data entry, order processing, gift shop sales and stock, guiding tours, and soliciting donations. The sanctuary is run completely on donations that are brought in through tours, sponsorships and donations, and gift shop sales.
BIG CAT RESCUE’S MISSION STATEMENT
The narrow mission of Big Cat Rescue is to provide the best permanent home we can for the limited number of abused, abandoned, and retired big cats that the sanctuary can afford (financially and volunteer staffing) to take in. The broader mission, therefore, is to reduce the number of cats that suffer the fate of abandonment and abuse by educating as many people as possible about the conditions that lead to the plight of these animals. We do this through our tours of the sanctuary, school education programs, our 10,000-page website that receives viewers from all over the world, by supporting species preservation efforts, and by providing a learning experience for interns from around the world. We hope, by setting an example and teaching about how animals should be treated, that this will carry over into how we humans treat each other as well, and in doing so, make the world a better place for all living creatures.
The Big Cat Rescue Volunteer Program consists of two distinct departments with diverse skill levels and responsibilities designated by shirt color. These levels are designated to enhance volunteer strengths and meet the varied needs of the sanctuary.
All volunteers begin as a Partner Trainee. Much of the initial training consists of the basic knowledge needed to be a valued volunteer. As a trainee advances through the program, they will learn specific skills pertaining to a particular department. If a trainee wishes to volunteer as a Keeper, they may progress to the Keeper side as approved by the Volunteer Committee after a probationary period.
The levels of advancement within each department are as follows:
Keeper: Keeper Trainee (red shirt), Keeper (yellow shirt), Senior Keeper (green shirt), Master Keeper (navy shirt), Coordinator (purple shirt)
Partner – Administrative: Partner Trainee (red shirt), Partner (yellow shirt), Senior Partner (green shirt)
Due to the physical demands of the Partner positions, the following criteria must be met to maintain Big Cat Rescue’s safety standards; 18-years old and possess a valid driver’s license, physical and mental capability to safely perform Partner tasks, possess vision and hearing at adequate levels, possess adequate literacy and verbal comprehension of English, give complete disclosure of any prescription drugs. Any Partner unable to meet these physical demands may be assigned specific duties to accommodate special needs.
Partner Trainees are considered a probationary level. A volunteer serving at this level will work under the direct supervision of a ranking volunteer. Duty hours for Partner Trainees are divided into two shifts. Typically 8:30 AM and 1 PM daily. Partners can either volunteer for one of the two shifts or can volunteer for the entire day starting at 8:30 AM.
Partner Trainee duties may include backing up tours, assisting with sign-in, gate operations & parking, cleaning guest & volunteer areas, processing orders, stocking the gift shop, data entry, and other assigned duties within the office, education center, file room, or gift shop. After two months of volunteering Partner Trainee duties may also include guiding Day Tours and Kids Tours.
Partner Trainees must maintain 16 hours of volunteer time per month (4-hours a week).
Partner Trainee Training Classes
Tour Back-up, Gate Operation and Guest Relations, Human First Aid, Animal Observation, Animal Emergency, Events, Tour Guide and Certification, Kids Tour Guide and Certification, Tour Guide II (not mandatory), Small Cat Cleaning (for knowledge of procedures only), Events, Issues & Actions, and US Government 101.
A volunteer may remain a red level Partner volunteer indefinitely.
All new volunteers are designated with a red “Trainee” shirt.
Partner Trainees may graduate to red “Volunteer” shirt after having completed the following; 6 consecutive months maintaining 16 hours per month performing Partner duties, completion of all red level classes as well as Tour Guide and Kids Tour Guide certifications, and successful completion of the Map Test.
Red level Partners that have graduated to red “Volunteer” shirt may walk the tour path unescorted at their leisure provided they have first asked their coordinator. These volunteers may also answer radio calls for golf carts as well as guide tours using a “Trainee” level volunteer as a back up.
After six consecutive months of maintaining or exceeding a minimum of 16 hours of volunteer time at Partner Trainee level and successful completion of all Partner Trainee classes and certifications as well as a Cleaning Map Test, a Partner Trainee can apply for promotion in writing to the Volunteer Committee to the Partner level. Applications for promotion can be found on the Classes & Maps page located under the Training and Docs section in the left side bar of the BigCat.me site.
Partner duties may include Partner Trainee duties, guiding Day Tours, Kids Tours, Feeding Tours, Photo Tours, and Private Tours, assisting with off-site events, using office equipment, shipping and receiving, answering phones, filing and record keeping, teaching classes, training and mentoring Partner Trainees.
Yellow level Partners may walk the tour path unescorted at their leisure provided they have first ask their coordinator. Yellow level Partners may also request to follow the feeders and observe the cats being fed from the tour path on any given day. Yellow level Partners are encouraged to offer these two opportunities to red level volunteers who are required to be escorted by a yellow level or higher volunteer during these activities.
Partners must maintain 24 hours of volunteer time per month (6-hours per week) and are eligible to take the following training classes.
Partner Classes & Certifications
Enrichment and Red & Yellow Certifications (reading to the cats), Operant Training (for knowledge of procedures only), Small Cat Feeding (for knowledge of procedures only), Cougar Cleaning (for knowledge of procedures only), Feeding Tour Guide and Certification (Partners guide the tour in conjunction with a keeper whom does the over barricade portions), Keeper Tour Guide and Certification (Partners guide the tour in conjunction with a keeper whom does the over barricade portions)
After twelve consecutive months of maintaining or exceeding a minimum of 24 hours of volunteer time at Partner level and successful completion of all Partner classes and certifications as well as a Cleaning Map Test, a Partner can apply for promotion in writing to the Volunteer Committee to the Senior Partner level. Applications for promotion can be found on the Classes & Maps page located under the Training and Docs section in the left side bar of the BigCat.me site.
Senior Partner duties may include Trainee & Partner duties, outreaches, confidential filing, gift shop transactions, donation solicitation, donation pick up, teaching classes, training and mentoring Trainees and Partners, coordinating and special assigned duties by the Volunteer Committee.
Senior Partners must maintain 32 hours of volunteer time per month (8 hours a week) and are eligible to take the following training classes.
Senior Partner Classes & Certifications
Gift Shop Transaction, and Night Tour Guide and Certification (must have a Senior Keeper Level volunteer as a back up)
Due to the physical demands and safety protocols of the Keeper positions, the following criteria must be met to maintain Big Cat Rescue’s safety standards; 18-years old and possess a valid driver’s license, physical and mental capability to safely perform Keeper tasks, capable of walking and standing for extended periods of time, capable of lifting and carrying at least 50 pounds, possess vision and hearing at adequate levels, must be fluent in English both written and verbal, give complete disclosure of any prescription drugs, allergies, and physical limitations. Pregnant volunteers will be assigned duties within the Partner Department and must refrain from having contact with the animal areas and raw meat as well as from heavy lifting or strenuous activities. Keeper volunteers may serve no more than 25% of their minimum required hours each month off-site. If the volunteer serves hours in excess of the minimum required hours these additional hours may be served either an on-site or off-site capacity.
A volunteer may become a Keeper Trainee only after serving as a Partner Trainee in the admin department for two consecutive months. Keeper Trainees are considered a probationary level. A volunteer serving at this level will work under the direct supervision of a ranking volunteer. Duty hours for Keeper Trainees are primarily early morning hours. Typically 8:30 AM to Noon daily (this is when the enclosures are cleaned). However projects are available in the afternoon hours and scheduled on the Events Calendar.
Keeper Trainee duties may include feeding non-cat species, sorting produce, cleaning small cats, red level quarantine cleaning, serving as a tour back up, housekeeping, grounds maintenance, landscaping, and domestic cat care. After two months of volunteering Keeper Trainee duties may also include guiding Day Tours and Kids Tours.
Keeper Trainees must maintain 16 hours of on-site volunteer time per month (4 hours a week).
Keeper Trainee Classes & Certifications
Tour Back-up, Gate Operation and Guest Sign In, Animal Observation, Animal Emergency, Human First Aid, Kids Tour Guide and Certification, Tour Guide and Certification, Events, Tour Guide II (not mandatory), Small Cat Cleaning and Certification, Issues & Actions and US Government 101.
A volunteer may remain a red level Keeper volunteer indefinitely.
All new volunteers are designated with a red “Trainee” shirt.
Keeper Trainees may graduate to red “Volunteer” shirt after having completed the following; 2 consecutive months maintaining 16 hours per month performing Partner duties, completion of all red level classes as well as Small Cat Cleaning certifications, successful completion of the Map Test.
Red level Keepers that have graduated to red “Volunteer” shirt may walk the tour path unescorted at their leisure provided they have first asked their coordinator. These volunteers may also answer radio calls for golf carts as well as guide tours using a “Trainee” level volunteer as a back up.
After completing one of the two below requirements a Keeper Trainee can apply for promotion in writing to the Volunteer Committee to the Keeper level. Applications for promotion can be found on the Classes & Maps page located under the Training and Docs section of the BigCatRescue.me site.
Option 1: Serve nine consecutive months maintaining a minimum of 16 hours per month. The first two months are served in the admin department, after which the following seven months are served in the keeper department. Complete all classes and certifications required of Keeper Trainee and pass the Cleaning Map Test.
Option 2: Serve six consecutive months, maintaining a minimum of 16 hours per month for the first two months followed by serving 100 total hours within the following four months. The first two months are served in the admin department, after which the following four months are served in the keeper department. Complete all classes and certifications required of Keeper Trainee and pass the Cleaning Map Test.
Keeper duties may include Trainee duties, cleaning small cats, feeding small cats, guiding Day Tours, Kids Tours, Feeding Tours (speaking portion), Photo Tours, and Private Tours, red level enrichment, operant with small cats, leading projects, and training and mentoring Trainees.
Keepers must maintain 24 hours of on-site volunteer time per month (6-hours per week) and are eligible to take the following training classes.
Keeper Classes & Certifications
Cougar Cleaning and Certification, Small Cat Feeding and Certification, Enrichment and Red and Yellow Level Certification, Operant Training and Small Cat Operant Certification, Feeding Tour Guide and Certification
After twelve consecutive months of maintaining minimum hours at Keeper level and successful completion of all Keeper Classes and Certifications as well as a Cleaning Map Test, a Keeper can apply in writing to the Volunteer Committee for promotion to the Senior Keeper level. Applications for promotion can be found on the Classes & Maps page located under the Training and Docs section of the BigCatRescue.me site.
A Senior Keeper is eligible to assist Staff or Master Keepers. A Senior Keeper must be able to perform at least Partner (yellow shirt level) duties.
Senior Keeper duties may include Trainee & Keeper duties, cleaning big cats, administering meds (slots limited and only available on an as needed basis), feeding big cats, green level enrichment, big cat operant, caring for hospitalized cats, guiding Keeper Tours and Night Tours, coordinating cleaning, feeding, and tours, assigned tasks by Staff, and training and mentoring Trainees & Keepers. A Senior Keeper may be entrusted with keys to buildings and/or the medicine cabinet.
Senior Keepers must maintain 32 hours of on-site volunteer time per month (8 hours a week) and are eligible to take the following training classes.
Senior Keeper Classes & Certifications
Big Cat Cleaning and Certification, Big Cat Feeding and Certification, Big Cat Level 1 Cougars and Leopards Operant Certification, Big Cat Level 2 Tigers Operant Certification, Keeper Tour Guide and Certification, Night Tour Guide and Certification, Feeding Tour Guide Certification, and Med Administration and Certification (certification is only available on an as needed basis and is not required, unless later advancement to Coordinator or Master Keeper is requested).
After four years of maintaining minimum hours at Senior Keeper level a volunteer will be acknowledged as a Master Keeper. There are no increases in hourly requirements for Master Keeper.
After two years of maintaining minimum hours at Senior Keeper level a volunteer and successful completion of all Senior Keeper Classes and Certifications as well as a Cleaning Map Test, a Senior Keeper can apply in writing to the Volunteer Committee for promotion to the Keeper Coordinator. Applications for promotion can be found on the Classes & Maps page located under the Training and Docs section of the BigCatRescue.me site. Prior to applying for promotion, the Senior Keeper must be able to perform all Senior Keeper as well as Senior Partner (green shirt level) duties.
Keeper Coordinator duties may include Trainee, Keeper, and Senior Keeper duties, caring for animals in the cat hospital, dispensing & administering medications, feeding special needs animals, assisting in animal emergencies, coordinating cleaning, feeding, and tours, and other tasks assigned by the Operations Manager. A Keeper Coordinator may be entrusted with keys to buildings and/or the medicine cabinet as well as codes to the gates, all of which must never be shared with anyone under any circumstance.
Keeper Coordinators must maintain 32 hours of on-site volunteer time per month (8 hours a week).
Big Cat Rescue also has an internship program, which consists of interns that live on site. These volunteers are designated with a blue intern shirt. Due to the significant amount of time the interns will spend on the property, they progress through the levels of the volunteer program at a rapid pace. interns are not staff or part of the Volunteer Program; however, part of their responsibilities may include training new Trainees.
There are several training classes available for each level of the Intern Program. A list of class teachers can be found on the Class Completion List. A link to this page appears at the top of the Classes and Maps page. Under the heading Training and Docs in the left-hand side bar of the BigCat.me site. On this chart you will find every volunteer listed with the dates that they completed each class. At the bottom of the chart is also a tab titled Teachers. You may contact the teachers and request a specific class to be given. Only approved volunteers can teach classes. A volunteer may request to become a teacher of a specific class by submitting their request to the Volunteer Committee via email at Committee@bigcatrescue.org. When a class is given the most recent version of the class should be printed directly from the BigCat.me site as classes are frequently updated. Two copies should be printed, one for the student and teacher to sign, date, and turn in and a second for the student to keep. The signed copy should be put in Chelsea Feeny’s mailbox and any certification sheets should be put in the appropriate binders in the gift shop or in food prep. If there is a video version of the class the video must be played instead of reading the class aloud to the student, however, all class materials must still be filled out and turned in.
Each volunteer must maintain the hourly requirements for his or her level each month. An account is set up for each volunteer to log his or her volunteer time via touch screen. These time clock stations are available in the gift shop, food prep, and the main offices. Volunteer must clock in using their assigned PIN number when they arrive at the sanctuary and must clock out when they leave the sanctuary. A Volunteer PIN Number will be assigned to each volunteer once they are entered into the Big Cat Rescuer Information Center Vogistics System. Volunteers are entered into this system after the 4th volunteer day. Each volunteer will receive an email notification with the Volunteer PIN Number. This PIN is used to clock in and out using one of the time clock stations.
Volunteer Coordinators have access to a document that contains every volunteer’s PIN number should the volunteer forget their number. The Volunteer Committee pulls time reports each month to ensure that each volunteer is meeting his or her minimum requirements and to reward additional time served. A red level volunteer may be under in hours no more than 1 month during the course of one year (January – December). A yellow level volunteer may be under in hours no more than 2 months during the course of one year (January – December). A green/navy/purple level volunteer may be under in hours no more than 3 months during the course of one year (January – December). These months may not be consecutive. If consecutive months of not meeting hours occurs the volunteer will be transferred to the level at which they are serving hours for (unless an official leave of absence was requested prior to not being able to meet the month’s hours). If a volunteer exceeds the maximum number of allowable months not meeting their hourly requirements the volunteer will automatically be transferred down to the level for which they are meeting the hourly requirements.
If the volunteer is a red level keeper or partner they will be required to repeat their classes and in some cases repeat orientation. If a volunteer uses the above new allowance they must submit a notification to the Volunteer Committee prior to the end of the month for which the hours will not be met. The notification should include the following information; 1. The month the hours will not be met. 2. Reason for being unable to meet hours. If no notification is submitted the volunteer will automatically be transferred down to the level for which they are meeting the hourly requirements. If this occurs, the volunteer must remain at this level for a duration of time determined by the Volunteer Committee. There will be no warnings from the Volunteer Committee regarding the transfer. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to keep track of their hours and communicate with the Volunteer Committee regarding their ability to meet their monthly requirements. If a volunteer uses an allowance it will be with the understanding that they will still be required to meet the minimum required number of consecutive months meeting minimum hourly requirements for promotion applications. If a volunteer uses an allowance they will also forfeit their eligibility for the quarterly and annual free pass give-aways and the STARS gift certificate give-aways.
A volunteer that has been reported as having deficient hours for their level and did not submit a notice to the Volunteer Committee will receive a notification email regarding the deficiency outlining where the volunteer stands within the allowances for their level. If the volunteer is deficient in their hours for two consecutive months (without having requested an official leave of absence) the volunteer will receive a notification email regarding their transfer to the level at which they are currently meeting hourly requirements for. Volunteers and Advocats who have no hours logged for 60 consecutive days and have not submitted a Leave of Absence request with the Volunteer Committee will be considered to have resigned and will be automatically removed from the volunteer program. Keeper volunteers may serve no more than 25% of their minimum required hours each month off-site or in the Partner Department. If the volunteer serves hours in excess of the minimum required hours these additional hours may be served either an on-site or off-site capacity or within the Partner Department. This is to ensure that keeper volunteers are serving at least 75% of the minimum required hours each month performing keeper duties.
Off-Site and Missed On-Site forms are available on the BigCatRescue.me site under the heading Training and Docs>Log Hours. Hours volunteered off-site should be entered on the Off-Site Log. If hours are served on-site and the volunteer is unable to clock in or out due to computer failure those hours can be logged on the On-Site Log. Entries should be made on the same day the hours were performed. These hours are logged manually by the Volunteer Committee into your service record after the last day of the month. Entries made on these two forms after the last day of the month will not be counted towards meeting the minimum required hours.
Big Cat Rescue has an extensive website resource dedicated towards keeping the volunteers, interns, and staff informed of all policies, updates, contact information, and day to day operations of the sanctuary. Each volunteer is assigned a email@example.com email address and is required to log in to the site regularly to check their emails as well as to read the Important Updates. Access to and participation in the bigcatrescue.me site is for current, active volunteers only. You must choose a password to enter the bigcatrescue.me site when your internship begins. Please choose a password that is meaningful to you, yet hard for someone to guess. Never share your password with others. Don’t forget to sign out! The easiest way for unauthorized persons to access all of Big Cat Rescue’s information is to gain unsupervised access to a computer in which one of our authorized volunteers is signed in to the bigcatrescue.me site but isn’t there. Remember that your Big Cat Rescue e-mail address is like an electronic version of the volunteer logo on your volunteer shirt. When you use it, you are representing Big Cat Rescue, even if you do not mean to. Please make sure that every e-mail you send from this address represents Big Cat Rescue accurately and positively.
Big Cat Rescue has three main committees that oversee specialty programs offered by the sanctuary. Each of the committees can be contacted with ideas or suggestions by putting a note in the committee’s designated folder, which is located in the gift shop office.
Enrichment Committee – Designs and implements enrichment items, maintains records for tracking their success, and studies individual species to enhance the quality of life for the animals currently residing at the sanctuary. Hosts weekly enrichment planning and making sessions which are open to all levels of volunteer and intern on Wednesday evenings. Enrichment@BigCatRescue.org
Operant Conditioning Committee – The Operant Conditioning Committee is responsible for encouraging volunteers to participate in the program, teaching the Operant Conditioning class, offering observation sessions, assigning operant cats to volunteers, evaluating and documenting the success of the Operant Training Program, creating and updating documentation of the program. Operant@BigCatRescue.org
Volunteer Committee – The primary goal of the Volunteer Committee is to develop and maintain a successful volunteer force to carry out the mission of Big Cat Rescue. Volunteer Committee duties may include; maintaining files on each current volunteer and intern, writing standard operating procedures & volunteer program and class revisions, running monthly hour reports and following up with volunteers regarding their status, promotion applications, discussing issues concerning the volunteers, disciplinary actions, promotions and rewards within the volunteer program, frequently checking and responding to emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, hosting quarterly Volunteer Appreciation Parties, keeping in touch with volunteers, recognizing birthdays, following up if a leave of absence is taken, and fostering relationships between volunteers, attending off-site classes or seminars to further improve operations, and other responsibilities as assigned by the CEO.
Volunteer Committee duties may include; Interviewing new volunteers and interns, scheduling new volunteers for their first day, maintaining files on each current volunteer, teaching classes and training volunteers and interns, weekly Intern room inspections, writing standard operation procedures & volunteer program and class revisions, attending monthly Committee meetings to discuss issues concerning the volunteers, disciplinary actions, promotions and rewards within the volunteer program, frequently checking and responding to emails to email@example.com, hosting quarterly Volunteer Appreciation Parties, keeping in touch with volunteers, recognizing birthdays, following up if a leave of absence is taken, and fostering relationships between volunteers, attending off-site classes or seminars to further improve operations, and other responsibilities as assigned by the CEO.
Suggestions, ideas, questions, special requests and even grievances should be submitted to the Volunteer Committee via email to Committee@BigCatRescue.org All discussions and decisions by and of the Volunteer Committee will be based on the Code of Honor. There is also an anonymous suggestion box located in the Gift Shop that is checked only by the CEO.
Big Cat Rescue’s volunteers are essential to the successful operation of the sanctuary. The Volunteer Committee recognizes exceptional volunteers in a variety of ways. First, the SAVE (Scratch’s Award for Volunteer Excellence) is awarded monthly to a volunteer that has made a positive impact on the sanctuary. The SAVE winner will have a $1,000 donation to insitu work made in their honor to save wildcats in the wild.. Second, each month volunteers that have given more than 25% over their minimum hourly requirements are added to two drawing pools, one for the Partners and one for the Keepers. The winner from each pool is awarded a special prize. Lastly, Tour Passes are awarded to volunteers that have maintained the minimum hourly requirements each quarter.
Animal Contact: Big Cat Rescue is a strict no contact facility. At no time, under any circumstances, will any part of your person come into direct contact with any animal at Big Cat Rescue. Nor shall you use any object to touch an animal such as a stick or pole etc. (There is a back scratcher program that is available to Senior and Master Keepers as well as Level 4 & 5 Interns, this program is strictly monitored and is for the purpose to assist animals with removing matted fur.)
Animal Care: No animal abuse of any kind will be tolerated, including teasing, and is grounds for immediate dismissal. No food or toys shall be offered to any animal without approval from the Coordinator, Operations Manager, CEO or President. No animal shall ever be removed from its cage or enclosure without the express consent of the CEO or President. Notification of animal issues including veterinary procedures, moving animals and quarantined animals, etc will be posted on the Important Updates.
Radios: You must carry a BCR issued radio with you at all times while on the property and ensure that the radio is turned on and tuned to Channel 1. Each volunteer is responsible for keeping his or her radio in good working order. You will have to turn in your car keys in order to receive a radio at the beginning of your shift, and turn the radio back in at the end of the day in order to receive your keys back. If you need to leave the sanctuary at a specific time please let your Coordinator know when you collect your radio upon arrival. The Coordinator can meet you at food prep at a that specific time. If you need to leave the sanctuary quickly and had not planned ahead of time please radio your Coordinator 5-10 minutes prior to your desired leave time so that they can make their way to food prep to collect your radio.Radio transmissions on Channel 1 should be kept to a minimum. If more detail must be discussed use Channel 2 or 3. Radio transmissions must be monitored by the Volunteer Coordinator or Operations Manager throughout the day for questions or emergencies.
Security of Animal Information Files: Any printed or digital information about the cats and their health must always be readily available to our staff, vets, and appropriate volunteers. Such information shall not be moved, copied, altered, shared, deleted, or taken off of the property without express permission from the CEO or President.
Safety: No part of your person shall ever come within reach of any animal at Big Cat Rescue. No person shall run or horseplay on the property. An Emergency Contact, medications, allergies, and medical conditions are listed for each volunteer and intern in their digital Volgistics record which all coordinators have access to. Smoking is permitted in the designated “smoking areas” only.
Alcohol & Drugs: No person shall enter the property where the big cats are housed for eight hours after having consumed any alcoholic beverages or prescription medications that affect one’s ability to work safely around the animals. (This property encompasses all land between the main parking lot and the perimeter fence that runs from the Moglin House to the Barn). All prescription medications must be disclosed at time of applying for a volunteer position. If during the volunteer career medications are prescribed these must be reported to the Volunteer Committee immediately. Any person believed to be impaired due to alcohol or drugs (illegal or prescription) will be terminated from the program and removed from the property immediately.
Entering Enclosures: No person shall enter any enclosure without direct permission from the Volunteer Coordinator, Operations Manager, President or CEO. Prior to entering any enclosure the animal will be safely locked out of the section of the enclosure to be entered. The Operations Manager can “lock out” cats smaller than lynx. The President or CEO must be present to “lock out” cats that are lynx and larger. When an animal is “locked out” it will be moved to another section of its enclosure. The separating guillotine door will be shut, a pole placed over the frame of the guillotine door to prevent its opening, a clip gate installed over the guillotine door and then a pad lock placed on the entrance door for the section housing the animal. When entering any enclosure, the safety door must be closed shut with a minimum of 2 snaps prior to opening the entrance door to the side of the enclosure the animal is locked out of. This entrance door must then also be closed shut with a minimum of 2 snaps. At no time should either door be left open, even if the enclosure is not inhabited by an animal.
Modifying Enclosures: No person shall make modifications to any enclosure without direct instruction from the Volunteer Coordinator, Operations Manager, President or CEO.
Drills: Every month the Volunteer Committee will post an electronic drill or re-training in the Volunteer Newsletter. The drill will consist of a scenario such as an injured guest or animal emergency, and course of action options for the volunteer to select or fill in. Each volunteer must read the monthly Volunteer Newsletter and mark that they have read it as well as complete the electronic drill. The Volunteer Committee will review the results of the drill and will council any volunteer that may have answered insufficiently or incorrectly. Re-training consists of the mandatory reading of posted class materials.
First Aid Kits: There are fully stocked be first aid kits in the; Gift Shop, Volunteer Sign In, Food Prep, Cooling Station, Main Office, E-Center, and Party House. All supplies for the First Aid Kits are to be purchased by Big Cat Rescue. Volunteers and interns are not permitted to donate First Aid Supplies nor store their personal medications in the First Aid Kits.
Management: The volunteers on property will be directly coordinated by either a Volunteer Coordinator or an Operations Manager. Volunteer Coordinators are staff or volunteers who report to the Operations Manager. The Operations Manager is a staff member who oversees the daily operations of the sanctuary and is the final authority on site operating under the CEO and President. There will always be at a minimum one staff Operations Manager on site each day during the hours that the public and volunteers are on the premises. This Operations Manager will have access to and will be trained in the use of meds, darts, guns, medical, and capture equipment. Volunteer Coordinators coordinating the keeper department must be at least a Green Level Senior Keeper. Volunteer Coordinators coordinating the partner department must be at least a Yellow Level Partner. Operations Managers may be any level deemed appropriate by the CEO and President and will be fully trained in every aspect that the job requires. All coordinators can be reached at one email address: Coordinators@BigCatRescue.org
Social Media: Posts or communications regarding animal issues using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and other sites should represent Big Cat Rescue’s mission accurately and positively. Any use of these images will in no way condone, promote or otherwise glamorize private ownership of exotic cats, captivity of exotic cats, use of live exotic cats in entertainment or sport or for advertising purposes, handling of exotic cat cubs or adults, nor breeding of exotic cats.
Animal Death Announcements: Postings regarding the death of an animal at Big Cat Rescue should be made no earlier than when posted publicly by Big Cat Rescue. This is to ensure that your fellow Rescuers have the opportunity to read the news via the Important Updates instead of through social media.
Official Fan Pages: Only Big Cat Rescue staff may create fan pages that include the words Big Cat Rescue. Our name and logo is trademark and copyright protected and may not be used unless approved in writing by the CEO.
Photos or Videos While Cleaning: Photos may be taken occasionally while you are cleaning enclosures if the cat is doing something unusually interesting or is in perfect lighting or has a nice backdrop. Photos however should not distract you from the task at hand nor should they prolong cleaning. Cleaning is very important and all of your attention should be on completing this task thoroughly and efficiently. Volunteers may request time to take photos of the animals after cleaning has been completed.
Photos or Videos While Feeding or Doing Operant Conditioning: Only Senior Keepers, with 12 months experience, who are fully certified to feed all cats and do operant of all levels may film cats while feeding them or doing operant conditioning with them, provided the camera is being operated by a second person, on a tripod, or is body mounted, and both the keeper(s) and the camera are positioned to prevent injury to the keeper(s) or camera.
Photo & Video Rights and Usage Restrictions: Big Cat Rescue retains the rights to all photos and videos obtained at the sanctuary. This includes the sanctuary cats, alive or past. Permission is granted to the photographer or videographer to post their works on their own social sites provided the content was obtained within the rules of the sanctuary AND the sanctuary cats benefit equally with the photographer or videographer. The cats’ images and videos are first and foremost to benefit Big Cat Rescue and its social channels and online presence. Images and photos should be shared to Big Cat Rescue’s Social Media Team in a timely manner for sharing on Big Cat Rescue social media pages and sites to help further our mission with fresh and unique content. The Big Cat Rescue Social Team will not share posts from the social media pages and sites of volunteers, staff, interns, or related businesses without written permission by the CEO. The intention of this is to avoid diverting Big Cat Rescue visitors, fans or supporters to social media sites that are not owned by Big Cat Rescue. If asked by Big Cat Rescue, to remove photos or videos from social channels or online or physical locations, the volunteer will do so immediately. If images or video are shared on unofficial Big Cat Rescue YouTube channels or similar sites, the description must include a link to BigCatRescue.org AND each post must have a fundraiser donation button naming Big Cat Rescue as the charity recipient of the funds. If images are shared on unofficial Big Cat Rescue platforms including, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn or other social similar sites, a minimum of one post per week must include a donate button linked to Big Cat Rescue, if available. Any time a nationwide or global call to action on Big Cat Rescue’s sites is posted, the person sharing images or videos of the cats must also share the Call to Action.
Access to the Property: Volunteers will not operate the entry gates nor allow access to the property to anyone without proper training. If you do not recognize someone on the property as a volunteer or staff member, politely ask if you can help him or her. Explain that a volunteer or staff member must escort them at all times. Lead them to the Gift Shop and alert a Coordinator, Staff or Committee Member. No person shall enter the property without having completed a Release & Hold Harmless Agreement even if it is a return visit. If you are given the gate code, opener, or key to receive access to the property, do not share this code with any other person including other volunteers or staff members. Wild animals as well as feral cats live on Easy Street, it is very important that we respect them and drive no faster than 10 mph, as well as yield to on-coming traffic.
Volunteer Sign In and Out: Once you have received your PIN to clock in and out using one of the Time Tracking Stations you must clock in when you arrive and clock out when you leave for the day. Your first 4 visits will be tracked manually. If by your 5th visit you have not received a PIN, log your hours using the On-site Missed Clock In Form on the BigCatRescue.me site. The first thing you should do upon your arrival is clock in using one of the available time stations. After clocking in and before beginning any other task, the Important Updates section on the BigCatRescue.me site must be checked for important information such as rule changes, cat information, scheduled events, etc. Next volunteers must verbally check in with the coordinator in order to receive work assignments and so that the coordinator can keep track of the volunteer’s progress. At the end of the volunteer shift the volunteer must clock out and verbally notify the coordinator or announce over the radio that they are leaving property. Time records are monitored frequently to assure maintenance of volunteer responsibilities. A volunteer that is not meeting their required minimum number of hours will be counseled by the Volunteer Committee and if the hours are not maintained it may result in a demotion of the volunteer’s level.
Volunteer Shifts: The main gate is open daily at 7:30 and 8:30 AM. Partner Trainee start times are 8:30 AM and 1 PM. Keeper Trainee start time is 8:30 AM. Keeper Feeder start time is 7:30 AM. If you arrive early for your shift please pull to the side of the road outside the gate and wait for a Coordinator to let you in. Do not follow another car in unless instructed to do so.
Dress Code: Volunteers must wear a Volunteer shirt upon entering and at all times while on the property. Each volunteer must wear a shirt the color designated for his or her level. Volunteer tank tops are available, but are only to be worn when working on a project (i.e., not when working with guests). Volunteers are visible to guests at any time while on the property and must look presentable. Volunteers that are giving tours or assisting with events must wear a clean Volunteer shirt. Volunteer shirts are to be worn by volunteers only. They are not to be given to friends or family nor are they to be donated or sold to the general public. Closed-toe flat shoes must be worn at all times while on the property. Excess or dangling jewelry or heavily scented products should not be worn. Long pants are recommenced but shorts will be tolerated if worn at a modest length. Any clothing including Volunteer shirts must be in presentable, unaltered condition. Volunteers may get wet or dirty while working and may want to bring an extra set of clothes. Volunteer sweatshirts are available for each shirt color level. Any other sweatshirts, sweaters, or jackets must be worn underneath the Volunteer shirt. Raingear must be in the appropriate color for each level. Rain boots are encouraged during the rainy season.
Cell Phones: Preferably, cell phones are to be left in the intern’s car, bag, or at home; however, if the intern is expecting an urgent call and must carry a cell phone, absolutely no calls will be answered while on the animal side of the barricades.
Personal Tours: All personal tours must be pre-approved by the coordinator in advance and be led by a certified tour guide. Interns may use their 10% discount for tour admission or give their guests tour passes that they have acquired through the reward program. Age restrictions apply to all guests on personal tours.
Grounds Maintenance: All volunteers are responsible for proper disposal of his or her trash as well as that of guests or other volunteers. Recycle containers are provided for drink containers and cardboard, these containers are emptied into the dumpster in the guest parking lot marked recycling. When a volunteer completes a project, they must clean and put away all tools and excess materials and debris.
Scheduling Your Volunteer Time: All Volunteers are required to schedule their volunteer days on the calendars located on the Big Cat Rescuer Information Center. Volunteers are given access to this system after the fourth volunteer day. If you are unable to volunteer on a day that you are scheduled for, you must remove yourself from the schedule. If it is less than 24 hours prior to when you are scheduled to volunteer you will be unable to remove yourself from the calendar and must call the scheduled Coordinator listed on the calendar (phone numbers can be found on the Important Info page of the BigCatRescue.me site) to inform them so that they are not left short staffed. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up for days that are short of help or to check with the Coordinators to determine when their help is most needed.
Volunteer News: Volunteer News is published by the Volunteer Committee on WorkPlace.
Volunteer Appreciation Parties: Volunteer Appreciation Parties are held quarterly. Invitations are posted in the Important Updates as well as emailed to all volunteers. These parties are a social gathering of volunteers to enjoy food, drinks, guest speakers, special announcements, and to celebrate awards and promotions. Volunteers must RSVP (attending or not attending) to invites so that the Volunteer Committee can be sure to have enough food and drinks for everyone that attends. The attire for the quarterly Volunteer Appreciation Party is casual. Volunteers do not need to wear their volunteer shirt, unless instructed otherwise (annual group photos). Name badges will be provided for the attendees to wear that state the name, department and level so that new interns and volunteers can become acquainted with senior volunteers. It is highly encouraged to attend these gatherings to promote camaraderie among interns, volunteers, and staff.
Leave of Absence: A volunteer may submit a request to the Volunteer Committee and may be granted a temporary leave of absence, or a period of reduced activity, for good cause (illness, travel, etc.). This absence, or period of reduced activity, can last no longer than one month. The volunteer will not be penalized for not meeting his or her hourly requirements and will not lose his or her status during the designated period, subject to Volunteer Committee approval. The Volunteer Committee will evaluate any absences in excess of one month on a case-by-case basis. Trainees may not request a leave of absence. Any Trainee not meeting minimum obligations may be required to repeat the orientation process and start the Volunteer Program over again. If a volunteer has been hospitalized due to a serious injury or illness a copy of a work release form obtained from their doctor must be provided to the Volunteer Committee. Upon return from a serious injury or illness, the volunteer may be assigned lite or restricted duties until the Volunteer Committee and the volunteer feel that full duties can be restored.
Demotions: Any volunteer who does not meet the requirements or adhere to the policies for their level will be reduced to the level for which requirements are being met. The Volunteer Committee reserves the right to query volunteers, either in writing or in person, in order to establish whether or not requirements are, or are not, being met as well as policies being followed before making their determination.
Dismissals and Denials: The Volunteer Committee retains the right to permanently excuse anyone from the program or from the property if his or her conduct is deemed unbecoming for a volunteer representing Big Cat Rescue. The Volunteer Committee may also deny any individual from joining the Volunteer Program.
CODE OF CONDUCT
Rumor control is everyone’s responsibility. The spreading of inappropriate information to fellow volunteers or to the public will not be tolerated. This includes negatively questioning the judgments or actions of the Senior Volunteers, Volunteer Committee, Staff, or Veterinarian care to or in front of volunteers or the public. Any issues, concerns, or grievances with staff or volunteers at any level should be addressed, in writing, to the Volunteer Committee if the issue can not be first be resolved directly with the other party. Every effort will be made to achieve resolution. The party deemed at fault for the grievance will be required to apologize and make every attempt to resolve the conflict with the offended party.
While a volunteer is on the property or at an event or outreach, he or she is representing Big Cat Rescue. Please dress appropriately and refrain from using offensive language or behavior.
When you send an email from your Big Cat Rescue e-mail address you are representing us. Please be sure that you represent Big Cat Rescue’s philosophy accurately and positively. This also includes postings on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and My Space, etc. While we cannot control what current and former staff and volunteers post to their social networking sites, we would like to reiterate that we would appreciate your attention to the message that your photos and comments on these sites sends about Big Cat Rescue and especially about the animals that we represent.
If you drive your vehicle with Big Cat Rescue signs, bumper stickers, license plates, etc. you are an ambassador for the sanctuary and we ask that you drive and act in a responsible manner.
If you do not know the answer to a question asked of you, please do not make one up. Tell the person that you will find out for them and then do so. Bad information is worse than none at all and each Volunteer’s words are a reflection of Big Cat Rescue’s mission.
CODE OF HONOR
I will focus on what works best to achieve our mission of caring for cats & ending the trade.
I will speak my truth to the best of my ability & listen attentively as others speak theirs, with an end goal of finding solutions that work for all.
I will support my fellow Rescuers early, often & unconditionally.
I will be truthful & responsible for my actions, accepting my role with grace and performing to the best of my ability.
I will deal with complete transparency & proactively work to resolve any conflicts directly with those involved. I will be sensitive to their feelings & in no way belittle or challenge them in front of others. If no resolution is achieved I will ask that all involved parties meet together with the person(s) who can settle the matter.
If it’s not my story, I won’t tell it.
I will celebrate the good my fellow Rescuers do & show respect by saying please, thank you and job well done.
It is my responsibility to uphold the code & address breaches of the code with my fellow Rescuers directly, privately & respectfully.
I will be mindful of my tone, body language & the fact that we are all on the same path, albeit at different stages, so I will be open & gentle when asked for clarification.
I will trust that my fellow Rescuers share my same good intentions and will give the benefit of the doubt or seek their input in a kind and courteous way.
The Volunteer Program Policies and Code of Conduct and Code of Honor apply to all Volunteers, Interns, Staff, and Guests (where applicable) while on the property. Each person is responsible to abide by and enforce these Policies and Codes. Any infraction of the Policies or Codes should be immediately brought to the violator’s attention as well as to the coordinator and the Volunteer Committee. The Volunteer Coordinator must fill out an Incident Report (available on the BigCat.me site in the Training and Docs section on the left hand side bar). This report should be filled out with the pertinent information and submitted to the Volunteer Committee. The Volunteer Committee will decide the appropriate action or disciplinary measure (demotion, dismissal, etc.). Any infraction of these policies or code of conduct and honor may result in an Incident Report, which will become a permanent record in the violator’s file.
QUALIFIED TEACHERS FOR THIS CLASS ARE:
Lynda.Licht & Erin.Carden
QUIZ AT LINK