California Wolf Center Internship Program

"When I decided to get involved with wolves, I looked at several different organizations, but none offered the comprehensive experience provided by the California Wolf Center internship program. During my time as an intern, I was exposed to everything from food preparation to habitat maintenance, all the while exploring how to best educate the public about this iconic species. Becoming involved as an intern at the California Wolf Center wasn't just fulfilling a passion for wildlife, but realizing my potential as an ambassador for conservation."

Bonnie McDonald

Photo Credit: Bonnie McDonald

The California Wolf Center is a unique conservation center dedicated to wolf recovery in the wild. We accomplish our mission through conservation, education and outreach. To fulfill our mission we work closely with a large and diverse group of stakeholders. We have a strong presence throughout the Pacific West focusing on California wolf recovery and in the Southwest focusing on Mexican gray wolf recovery.

At our conservation center in Julian, CA, we host several packs of gray wolves. Many are potential release candidates as part of a Species Survival Plan, so we must keep them as wild as possible in order to give them the best chances for survival in the wild. As a result, we avoid any interaction with our resident wolves and ensure the minimum amount of human contact possible. You will not be handling the wolves or directly interacting with them in any way.

The California Wolf Center offers two distinct Internship Programs. Please specify which program you are interested in when applying. Both programs are unpaid, and all interns are responsible for their own housing and transportation to and from the center. The commute includes 3/4 of a mile of rugged dirt road, and interns must be willing to drive in and out on this dirt road. Housing is not available onsite, and there is no public transportation in our remote area. There is no fee to participate in the internship program, but you will incur costs for travel, accommodations (if coming from out of the area), and transportation during the internship. You are responsible for covering all of those costs.

"I was pleasantly surprised by the benefits of interning for this small nonprofit because they rely on their interns to take on responsibilities that other internships do not allow. The staff is supportive and welcoming, and they work to ensure interns are able to gain experience in aspects that will help towards their goals. There was a level of respect and trust that made me confident in my abilities to complete the assignment."

California Wolf Center Education and Nonprofit Operations Internship

This internship is focused on three main aspects of nonprofit operations: education, administration and fundraising. Although interns will be crossed trained in other day to day operations, these areas will be the primary focus of the internship. Before completion of internship, you will be required to complete an independent project. Examples of projects are provided in the Project Examples* section.

Job Description


  • Give educational presentations to the general public, school and youth groups, and private parties
  • Assist with or lead off site presentations (may require travel in your personal vehicle)
  • Prepare the conservation center for educational programs
  • Stay current on ongoing wolf issues
  • Assist with supporting roles during educational programs
  • Assist with written educational content
  • Learn how to communicate complex information in an engaging manner
  • Help to create a positive and welcoming work environment for all volunteers, staff and fellow interns.
  • Nonprofit Administration

  • Answer phones and assist callers with tour reservations, wolf-related questions, organizational questions and any other inquiries
  • Respond to emails
  • Respond to phone messages
  • Assist with gift shop inventory, organizing and reordering
  • Receive real world training in administrative skills that transfer across a wide range of fields
  • Learn about the structure of a nonprofit and unique job opportunities in the nonprofit world
  • Fundraising

  • Complete donation processing and data entry
  • Assist with on site and off site fundraising events
  • Learn donor communication skills
  • Learn about the many ways nonprofits can support their mission through diverse fundraising activities
  • Project Examples*

  • Create new content for educational presentations
  • Create and implement new interactive activities for school groups
  • Update the educational displays at the two ambassador wolf habitats
  • Update the greeting display at public check-in point
  • Create and, with approval, implement a fundraising event or activity (social media campaign, crowdfunding campaign, off site event, etc.)
  • Job Logistics

    Our education programs are on a set schedule. For interns to get the most out of this experience, we will need you to be available on Saturdays or Sundays. Other days are more flexible, however availability on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays is highly desired. There will be an agreed upon weekly work schedule. This position could involve offsite driving to community events within San Diego County. A minimum of three days per week is required for the internship. Internships run three to four months in length depending on time off requests.

    Education and Nonprofit Operations Interns must be at least 18 years old to participate. A desire to teach and a passion for conservation is highly desired. Public speaking is required. Reliable transportation and good written and verbal communication skills are requirements.

    California Wolf Center Animal Care Internship

    Job Description

  • Help with daily behavior observations, hands off health checks/observations of the resident wolves.
  • Help with the routine animal care. This includes removing scat from animal habitats, removing uneaten food, cleaning and scrubbing wolf water tubs, weighing wolf food, and feeding the wolves.
  • Keep the animal care and work areas clean and neat.
  • Provide the resident wolves with enrichment while working within the enrichment protocol. You will help enrich the daily lives of the resident wolves and help with record keeping for enrichment.
  • Help keep the animal food inventory accurate and up to date, help schedule food pick ups and perform food pick ups (this will require you to drive the California Wolf Center's truck).
  • Help with grounds and habitat maintenance. This varies from season to season and includes, but is not limited to, helping fix broken fencing or pipes, clearing brush for fire defense, and maintaining trails and access roads.
  • Help with upkeep of the center's animal care equipment. This includes, but is not limited to, cleaning freezers, putting away equipment, and cleaning any equipment used throughout the day.
  • Help with any ongoing research projects occurring at the center. Note: this is infrequent and should not be expected as a guaranteed part of the internship. Applicants are welcome to propose their own projects. However, the approval process can be time-intensive, so keep that in mind when applying. This is an optional component of the internship and is not mandatory.
  • Aid in administrative tasks as needed.
  • Assist with or possibly lead educational programs.
  • Help to create a positive and welcoming work environment for all volunteers, staff and fellow interns.
  • Job Logistics

    Animal care is performed on set work days, so you will need to be available on Mondays and Wednesdays, no exceptions. One additional day will also be required, which will be somewhat flexible but Friday, Saturday or Sunday is highly desired. There will be an agreed upon weekly work schedule. Internships run three to four months in length depending on time off requests.

    For the animal care internship, applicants must be at least 18 old. A clean driving record is highly desired. Please note that we may be running a DMV check to verify driving record if you are to be added to our vehicle insurance. You may be driving the California Wolf Center's vehicle to help facilitate animal care and food pickups if you meet additional age and driving record requirements.

    This internship program is not specialized in one area of animal care such as behavioral research or veterinary care. Instead, it is a general animal care program designed to introduce candidates to the wide range of skills required to work with captive wildlife. If you are looking for a program focused on research or veterinary care, this program may not be the best fit for your goals.

    Interns are able to propose their own research projects if that is of interest to you. There is a formal approval process that will require submission of a proposal to the Director of Operations and then to our Board of Directors. The approval process may take several months, and any research considered invasive will also require approval from an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Any research involving Mexican gray wolves will require additional approval from the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan.

    Most of our animals are potential release candidates, so they must be kept as wild as possible to give them the best chances for survival if they are selected for release. As a result, we are very hands-off with our animals and do not interact with them. You will not be allowed to interact with the wolves, handle the wolves, etc. On rare occasions, interns may be allowed to observe veterinary care, but the actual handling is performed by our experienced staff for the safety of both wolves and humans.

    The program is designed for people who have graduated or are about to graduate with a Bachelor's degree (or equivalent) and an interest in biology, ecology, animal behavior, zoology or related fields. Reliable transportation and the ability to lift at least 50 lbs are requirements. Public speaking experience and a clean driving record are highly desired.

    California Wolf Center

    How to apply

    To apply for one of the internship programs, please submit a one page resume and one page cover letter to the Director of Operations. Applications are accepted year-round, though typical start dates would be in February or March (Spring), May or June (Summer), August or September (Fall), or November or December (Winter). Please specify ideal start and end dates in the cover letter as well as whether you are applying for the Education and Nonprofit Operations program or the Animal Care program. Please note that we recommend submitting your application at least 60 days before your ideal start date. Submissions may be or faxed to 760-888-0333. For more information, please call 760-765-0030 or .

    Interns must be able to lift and carry 50 pounds. Interns must be able to work in extreme conditions including rain, snow and extreme temperatures. A valid driver's license, proof of insurance, and safe driving habits are required. Interns must have use of a reliable vehicle. Public speaking experience is strongly desired. Interns who fail to meet program requirements are subject to disciplinary action and/ or early dismissal from the program.

    Thank you to our Summer 2015 Internship Graduates!

  • Tobias Nickel, Chloe Latham, and Heather Paddock
  • Join Us

    Download Brochure SSL Certificate