This summer we had the distinct pleasure of working with a group of volunteers from the First Congregational Church of Berkley. Accompanied by several adult chaperones, this group of eight high school students arrived at the California Shelter early on a Monday morning (after receiving their first introductory tour on Sunday), ready to start tackling a long list of projects they aspired to complete: building a jungle gym for the goats, activity boxes for the rabbits, nesting boxes for the owls who live in our hay barn, and compost bins for our Education Center. Of course, they also found time for some extra fun activities like brushing the animals and feeding them tasty treats, and every day ended with an educational program, one of which included baking cookies for the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale event that we held at the local farmers market in Chico.
The first morning of the volunteers’ week at the farm was a bit hectic as we gathered together the necessary supplies and equipment for their ambitious shelter projects. While half the group worked on this, the other half started becoming more acquainted with the animals – gently brushing our elderly steers and feeding fresh apples and carrots to the sheep and goats. Once everything was ready, the group started plugging away with great determination, and, by the end of the very first day, they completed and placed a newly-constructed compost bin made of recycled pallets at our Education Center. From this day forward, despite the intense California heat, their momentum never faltered as they put their shoulders firmly to the wheel for the animals and completed the cozy nesting boxes for the owls, the goat jungle gym and rabbit fun boxes.
The goat’s playground was designed by a member of the church and was composed of seven sections of varying heights connected with ramps, allowing a goat standing at the top of this structure to truly be the king or queen of the mountain. The group worked diligently cutting and putting together all of the wood for the structure while taking breaks to assist us with sheep health checks, too! After all of the sections were completed, we brought them to the goat pasture to be assembled on a newly-flattened area of ground. At first, the goats were more interested in getting attention from our go-getting group of volunteers, and scratching their heads on the loose pieces of wood on the ground, but then one goat, Buddy, slowly sauntered over to give the structure its first touch of approval. The rest, as they say, was history as the other goats joined in the fun.
The fun boxes for the rabbits, designed during the group’s visit, were constructed to further enrich the rabbit barn by giving the bunnies additional spots to explore, burrow and play hide ‘n seek in. They constructed nine of these boxes, which could be stacked and moved around the barn for limitless possibilities of rabbit fun. Millie and MacBeth rabbits are especially fond of their new boxes, and often hang out in them all day long.
On the last day of their visit, all of the volunteers gathered with Farm Sanctuary interns and staff to enjoy some tasty vegan ice cream and cookies as a "thank you" for all of their hard work for the animals. Their spirit and energy was contagious and the fruits of their labor will last for many years to come. For this, we couldn’t be more grateful.
Farm Sanctuary volunteer opportunities like this one are a fun, positive way to meet new friends, pitch in with critical chores and projects, spend time with the animals, and learn more about the work that we do. If you, or a group you’re involved in, would like to give us a hand on the farm, we’d love to have the help! Learn more about volunteering here.