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Volunteer in the USA

Volunteer in the United States of America and explore the 'land of the free' whilst working for a good cause...

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Volunteer in the United States of America

You don’t need to travel to developing countries to contribute to a meaningful cause. Volunteers keen on maintaining certain luxuries and avoiding language barriers can choose to volunteer and make a difference in the United States. Known for its natural beauty, impressive national parks, and iconic cities, the USA will never fail to amaze. Although there are plenty of volunteer opportunities for local communities in this country, animal lovers especially will find their dream programs here. Whether it’s rescuing mustangs, taking care of huskies or other wildlife species, you’ll find it in America. Pack your bags and get ready to travel to the land of opportunity in search of a new adventure!

Volunteer programs in America are mainly focused on animals and are scattered across different states. From Alaska to Arizona and from California to Florida, volunteers will find international volunteer programs in all corners of the country. Whether you’re from Europe, South America, Asia or even the United States, volunteering abroad in the USA will open a world of new discoveries. For American volunteers, traveling to the hidden crevices of the country will definitely feel like volunteering abroad.

Before we go into more detail about the different volunteer projects in the USA, let’s get to know the most famous country in the world a little better. Here are a few facts you may not have known:

Volunteer work in the United States

When you think of volunteer work, America might not be the first country that comes to mind. We often forget that developed countries also have their struggles. Luckily, there are several international programs that allow volunteers to join the community of volunteers and lend a hand in those areas where help is required.

The U.S. is blessed with varied landscapes, pristine national parks and a distinct culture which is world famous thanks to the wonders of cinema. Volunteers who love nature and animals will be thrilled and can find several international volunteer opportunities focused on animal welfare. Volunteer in the United States and learn what it is like to work with animals.

Forget your struggles and surrender yourself to the daily grind of caring for animals that have been abused, neglected or injured. These poor creatures are in desperate need of some extra love and care. Will you give that to them? Working with animals is guaranteed to be an excellent calming therapy which will improve the lives of vulnerable animals that lack the care they deserve.

You may be a horse lover or have an affinity for huskies or wolves. No matter what type of animal person you are, you’ll find a project in the United States that will fulfill your desire to contribute. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of volunteer projects that are available. This will help with your search for your perfect volunteer opportunity abroad.

Mustang rescue and rehabilitation

Mustangs are a feral breed of horses that are descendants of Arabian and Spanish Barb horses brought over to America in 1400-1500. There are currently over 40000 Mustangs living in the wild in the USA. Because they are not considered to be a wild species, Mustangs often don’t receive the same protection other wild species do.

Volunteers who are keen on spending some quality time with this breed which is so famous from the Wild West, choose one of the Mustang rescue and rehabilitation programs in the USA. Enjoy the splendid outdoors, breathe in the fresh air and soothe your nerves through the therapeutic effects of the Mustang horse. The rescue and rehabilitation centers are a warm community where you will feel warmly welcomed by both the people as the horses.

Husky Caretaker

If you’re willing to live off the grid and happen to love dogs, why not volunteer as a husky caretaker? Besides experiencing the simple life, take this opportunity to go dog sledding and give these intuitive creatures the attention and care they need. Learn what it takes to work and care for huskies as you become part of a close community. What are you waiting for? MUSH!

Wildlife Caretaker

Volunteers who prefer working with exotic animals can volunteer abroad as a wildlife caretaker. Help rehabilitate and care for migratory and native American wildlife in one of the sanctuaries or rescue centers. Help with daily chores which may include the following:

  • Foster care for the animals
  • Cage cleaning
  • Food prep
  • Diet and water changing
  • Laundry
  • Washing Dishes
  • Medical care & treatment
  • Educating the public
  • Helping with events

Admire the different species inhabiting some of the most fascinating destinations of the USA like the Everglades. Explore some of America’s most scenic areas as you work with wildlife that has been abandoned, mistreated or injured.

Horse Therapy

Have you always been curious about the therapeutic effects of equine therapy? Understand more about the healing effects horses can have on autistic children as you help take care of these magical creatures. Connect with children who have special needs and face many struggles. Spend meaningful time with them and give them an experience they will never forget. Learn more about the techniques of horse therapy in one of the horse programs and open yourself up to a whole new world of healing and personal development. Join the tight-knit horse community and appreciate the warmth and healing effects.

These are not the only programs in the United States. Volunteers with a soft spot for farm animals or even wolves will find opportunities in the USA focused on just these creatures too. Open up to the various volunteer opportunities offered in the land of the free and discover all it has in store for you. Take a look at the available international programs in the USA. We’re convinced this will help your search for the volunteer program that fits you.

Cost of living abroad

The suggested budget for living in the US as a volunteer is between US$ 81 and US$ 222. This is an estimate made considering the local average price of some of the things you may want to buy and services you might need. It gives you an overview of how much things cost so you are well prepared for your trip to the US. Because your accommodation is provided by the organization, your living expenses may be a bit lower than what is suggested below. Once you have contacted the coordinator of the project, you will have a better understanding of the daily expenses and how much you will need to make things work during your international volunteer adventure.

Additional costs you should consider are:

Things to know before volunteering abroad in the United States

Before you embark on your volunteer trip to the US, there may be a few cultural aspects to take into account. It’s always a good idea to learn about certain customs when volunteering abroad. These tips may help you out:

  • Tipping etiquette is a major issue for first-time travelers in the US. Expect to pay 15-20% gratuity on restaurant meals and tip the bartender, valet, room service etc. It takes a while to get used to but you’ll learn fast. Also, make sure to check the bill to see if gratuity is already included.
  • Expect to pay more at the cashier than what is priced in the store. Prices usually exclude VAT which sometimes leads to surprises at the cashier.

Safety & Precautions

Make sure to read up on the safety advice your government has for tourists traveling to the USA. Most projects are in relatively safe areas but it is important to use common sense at all times, especially in major cities.

America is quite a safe place to travel so there shouldn’t be much to worry about if you keep an eye out. Here are some free tips you might want to follow during your volunteer work in the US.

  • Keep your personal belongings and important travel documents with you at all times! It also makes sense to bring attested photocopies of these documents, in case you lose them.
  • If you are going out, do not take a lot of money, jewelry or other fancy possessions with you.
  • If you go to bars, do not leave your drink unattended.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

Health Advice

Because the USA is a developed country, it’s unlikely that travelers or volunteers will fall ill during the trip and volunteer program in the US. It is advisable to take the following precautions:

  • Plan for how you will get health care during your stay. Get travel insurance and bring along any medicine that you may require.
  • Some parts of the US can get very hot in the summer, make sure you bring the necessary sunscreen and sun protection. Other parts of the US can get extremely cold in the winter. Make sure you have the right gear to brave the cold and enjoy your volunteer experience.

Packing Essentials

Knowing what to pack will take away some of the anxiety you may have regarding your adventure abroad. It is always a good idea to ask the project coordinator about what volunteers should bring along.

  • Make sure you bring essential travel documents, like passport, travel medical insurance information, and visa, Also keep photocopies or scanned copies of these.
  • Always carry sunscreen with you and make sure you cover up during the hottest times of the day.
  • Bring along warm gear if you’re volunteering in the winter.
  • Keep enough cash with you! A money belt could be a good idea.
  • Carry luggage with you that will make your trip easier. Opt for daypacks or backpacks and lightweight bags.
  • Pack appropriate clothing and shoes.
  • Don't forget to bring locks for hostel lockers and your luggage.

Who can volunteer in the United States?

Different projects require different skills from volunteers. You can find the specific requirements for each program on their program page. Volunteering in the US will require a basic knowledge of the English language and a deep love for animals. In the meantime, here are some general requirements that apply to most volunteer opportunities in the US:

  • You need to be at least 18 years old for most of the volunteer projects abroad unless you are volunteering with your parents or a guardian. When in doubt, we advise you to contact the local project manager. For some projects, you can also volunteer from the age of 16.
  • You need to have English skills to join most volunteer projects because it’s the main language. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the US.
  • Depending on the project you're interested in, you may need to provide a criminal background check and a health declaration before volunteering.

How to volunteer in the US

Are you ready to volunteer in the US but not quite sure how to get started? Take a look at the following 3 steps that will prepare you for your volunteer work and an unforgettable adventure abroad:

  • Check whether there’s a match between you and the American volunteer opportunity by looking at their requirements.
  • Take a look at the location of the project and decide whether it’s a location you are excited about.
  • Get in touch with the organization and see whether your expectations and schedules match up. Whether you want to volunteer in the States for a week or a longer period of time, check the project descriptions for more details.

Once this is sorted. Let’s take a look at the practical steps:

Insurance (Health & travel)

We recommend all our volunteers to get both health and travel insurance. In fact, this is a requirement for most programs abroad. Get in touch with your program contact person in America to find out if an insurance plan is in place for international volunteers.

Visa, passport, and documentation

  • Look into the visa requirements for the US. This will require most volunteers to apply for an Esta but some volunteer may need to apply for a visa. Look into this carefully because you will not be able to enter the country if the requirement is not fulfilled.
  • Make sure you have a valid passport considering the requirements of the immigration department in the US.
  • Prepare the correct documents to fulfill the visa application.

And that’s it! You’re ready for an unforgettable American volunteer adventure abroad. Commit to an exciting program and get ready to fall in love with the expansive landscape and friendly people as you care and attend to its formidable wildlife and animals. Take a look at the different opportunities and get ready for a new adventure in the United States of America! Let us know how we can support you in your search for the perfect international volunteer program.