St. Francis Wildlife ‘desperate’ for volunteers during baby season

St. Francis in need of volunteers
Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 4:45 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2022 at 6:42 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Deep in the woods of rural Gadsden County, the St. Francis Wildlife Association is in need of help.

The sanctuary saves thousands of wild animals every year, but a lack of volunteers is making that much more of a difficult task.

The average day for Wildlife Rehabilitator Adlai Olson is unlike most anyone else. In just an hour’s time, Olson can be seen cooling off racoons with a water hose, taking a tortoise for a stroll, and nursing a one-week-old squirrel.

Olson arrived to St. Francis earlier this summer.

“There’s no better feeling,” Olson said.

The work is rewarding and demanding - but that’s not a problem for someone working a dream job.

“Whatever may happen to it out in the wild, just knowing that you had a hand in being able to help whatever comes into our facility and is now released back to its home, it makes you feel absolutely amazing,” she said.

Those happy endings are exhausting to achieve. Right now, during baby season, feeds are becoming an all-night affair.

“Feeding goes from 7 a.m. all the way to sometimes 10 o’clock at night,” Olson said. “With just two people it’s nearly impossible to get that done. We’re sometimes here until 2 a.m.”

Tammy Cicchetti is an attorney in Tallahassee, about eight months into her volunteering journey. She’s an animal lover, of course, but also took the volunteer gig as a way to escape a busy routine.

“You get to drive out here, and by the time you get here you’re sort of in that ‘Zen spot,’ which for me is kind of a hard place to be,” Cicchetti said.

She also is equipped with countless fun facts about the animals now in her care.

“For instance, I know the armadillo really likes papaya and really hates watermelon,” she said.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old. In addition to animal care, helpers can take part in rescues, releases, cleaning, and other day-to-day operations.

The St. Francis website has more information on how to apply to be a volunteer here.

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