Volunteer Opportunities

Training bear to do a rise up

The Washington State University Bear Center is a unique research center, unlike any other in the world.  For over three decades, it has conducted world-class research that has contributed to bear management, conservation, and education.  WSU Bear Center volunteers are part of an elite team that plays an integral role in the daily care of the grizzly bears that call WSU their home.  Our volunteers are hand-picked through a vigorous application and interview process.  All volunteers are direct representatives of the WSU Bear Center, who reflect the pride we have in our bears and our research.  The chance to play an active role and contribute to the program provides our student volunteers with the opportunity of a lifetime to safely work in close proximity to one of the world’s most revered and respected predators.

The primary focus of our volunteers is on the daily care of our resident grizzly bears, but the experience is not limited to cleaning and feeding.  Volunteers may have the opportunity to observe, learn, and/or play an active role in procedures, enrichment, or research. Each student-volunteer experience will be uniquely based on current studies and/or the needs of the bears.

Training grizzly bear for voluntary blood draw using honey reward

Fall – Start of school until November. Applications are accepted starting July 1st to July 15th.

*Spring – Starts after spring break until finals week of spring.

*Must be enrolled in SoE431 to be eligible for spring. Details on volunteering are given during class.

Summer – First week after finals until the start of the following school year. Applications are accepted April 1st to April 15th. Opportunities for split summer session or full summer.

Winter – The bears hibernate from November to March, no volunteer opportunities during these months.

WSU Bear Center Volunteer Requirements

Minimum requirements for all volunteers:

  • Be a Junior or Senior currently enrolled at WSU or U of I.
  • Must have an overall 2.5 GPA. Spring volunteers will be chosen from Dr. Robbins’ Wildlife Nutrition class in which they must meet the 2.5 GPA requirement, but also receive a 75 or greater score on the first test.
  • Commit to a full semester of scheduled shifts, not to exceed 6 hours per week
  • Complete the proper training and sign the training completion form
  • Represent the Bear Center in a mature, responsible manner at all times
  • Log appropriate hours at the time of service
  • Conduct themselves in a professional manner
  • Abide by ALL safety rules at all times
volunteer helping place a trail camera is a bear den

Have a passion for wildlife research, conservation, and education

If interested, please submit an application form (pdf) and email it to chelsea.davis@wsu.edu.