Volunteer Abroad Animal Protection in the USA

Volunteers Go Vegan – Protecting Farmed Animals in Northern California

Your Vegan Farm Adventure

Each day, countless animals are being exploited in the food industry for the production of meat, milk, eggs and other animal-derived products. The animal sanctuary in Northern California, in which you’ll be working and living as part of this volunteer project, is dedicated to ending the exploitation of farmed animals. As a volunteer, you join the animals and the team for several weeks to become intimately familiar with the operations of a non-profit sanctuary and to learn the behaviour of formerly farmed animals in a sanctuary setting: You assist with daily feeds, clean animal quarters and help maintain sanctuary grounds. You also observe weekly animal health checks as needed and help socialise animals. The special thing about volunteering in this project: To enhance a more conscious, sustainable and animal friendly lifestyle you will live entirely vegan during your time at the sanctuary – which means that you as well as all other team and staff members avoid animal-based (food) products. As part of a team of experienced animal rights activists and other volunteers you make an active contribution to animal protection. At the same time, you get the chance to discover the beautiful West Coast of the United States.

Get to know the Golden State and become part of an animal care project which is nestled in the impressive landscape of Northern California, between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. The animal sanctuary is a perfect place of refuge for farmed animals. It is one of the oldest and largest sanctuaries for farmed animals in the country and also offers guided tours to inform visitors about the sanctuary’s work and mission. Since factory farming is a synonym for neglect and cruelty, all sanctuary staff members promote vegan lifestyle.

Services Our Services at a Glance


  • Placement in the project
  • Accommodation during the project
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Food items for two meals per day
  • Assistance with selecting travel insurance
  • One vegan dinner per week
  • Assistance with booking flights
  • English-speaking support by long-term experienced staff
  • Pre-departure information pack
  • 24/7 support throughout the project

Not included

  • Flights
  • Transport
  • ESTA fee/visa fee
  • Personal expenses and optional excursions
  • Travel insurance

Northern California

Start DateDurationCostNATUCATE-ID V.US-010
6 Weeks 1.800 €
8 Weeks 2.250 €
10 Weeks 2.650 €
12 Weeks 3.050 €


In order to participate in the voluntary work in California, an application in the form of a letter of motivation is required. If you are interested we will send you the appropriate NATUCATE form. All applicants must be at least 18 years old and have good English skills. An interview is also part of the application. It is important that you function well in a team, but are also able to work independently. A medical certificate on your health and your physical fitness (incl. allergies and necessary medications) is required since you will work in all weather conditions and sometimes need to lift up to 40 pounds. Moreover a tetanus vaccine is required to participate in the programme.


The vegan lifestyle: Out of respect for the animals, the animal sanctuary asks that all volunteers adhere to a vegan lifestyle. By not buying these products they would like to make a stand for justice, role-model a more peaceful relationship with animals and boycott businesses that raise or kill animals for profit. Please do not bring any animal-based foods to the sanctuary and only shop vegan products at the supermarket while being part of the project. Goods that are not permitted at the sanctuary are:

  • Animal flesh (to include fish and insects)
  • Dairy from animal lactations (to include milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, whey, casein, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Honey
  • Gelatin
  • Animal fibers or skins: leather/suede, wool, fur, feathers, down, silk
  • Cosmetics or personal hygiene care tested on animals or containing animal-derived ingredients

We understand you may require medications that have been tested on animals or contain animal ingredients – these are permitted.

Details Voluntary service in California

Country Information

Volunteering in the US

The animal sanctuary you will work at was founded in the late 1980ies and is situated northeast of California’s capital Sacramento. All staff members are dedicated to ending the exploitation of farmed animals. They provide sanctuary to more than 250 cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, goats, sheep and rabbits. In addition to the permanent sanctuary, there is a 60-acre adoption center located about 35 miles southwest of Sacramento, placing needy farmed animals into permanent homes. The sanctuary also offers tours for visitors to inform them about an animal friendly lifestyle as well as the harming effects of factory farming. The animals have been rescued from various backgrounds. Some have dark backgrounds, and deserve all of the love and light a volunteer has to offer. However, please be aware that the animal centre is not a petting zoo, and you need to take your responsibilities seriously.


Your time as a volunteer begins at Sacramento International Airport. You can either rent a car or book a shuttle service to get to the sanctuary. We are pleased to assist you with planning your way to the project site. Your arrival day is either the first or third Wednesday of the month. After your arrival you will meet other volunteers and settle into the accommodation facilities. The following morning you will receive a guided tour of the sanctuary where you will be working. Likely you will begin working in the afternoon or the next day. You are expected to work four consecutive days in 9-hour shifts , with a 1-hour lunch break. Volunteers are assigned a morning or afternoon shift. The exact start and end times vary on time of year and will be explained to you by a sanctuary staff member on your arrival day. Your responsibilities depend on the needs of the animals, the sanctuary and your skillset. In general, you assist with daily feeds, clean and bed animal sleeping quarters, aid with open or close of barns and help maintain sanctuary grounds. Moreover you can observe weekly animal health checks as needed, sort donated produce fed to the animals, assist with laundry, help socialize animals and other miscellaneous tasks. By the end of the programme you will have learned the daily animal care operations, hands on care of farmed animals, proper medical treatments for individual sanctuary residents, and how to properly restrain and handle different species.


Accommodation during the project

The animal shelter you will work at is located in Northern California, in the midst of nature between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. Even though, a simply picturesque landscape awaits you, you should be aware of the fact that the station is quite isolated and your free time opportunities will be limited unless you rent a car. Volunteers live on the animal shelter site in a shared-accommodation guest house. The house has a fully equipped kitchen, a living area with a TV and DVD player, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The house has central heat and air. It also has access to the internet. If available to a volunteer’s smartphone, one can enable making phone calls via WiFi. Cell phone service is limited but available. There is a land-line but not for making long-distance phone calls.

As you and the other volunteers share the guest house with other guests who are not part of the project, you are required to observe a respectful etiquette at all times.

Volunteers will be offered one weekly vegan communal dinner. They are welcome to participate in the preparation of the meal. In the fully equipped kitchen of the guest house they can prepare meals themselves. The staff members purchase basic staple food items to cover two meals per day for each volunteer. Volunteers will need to provide any additional food they need/want.

Leisure time

Leisure time

Volunteers have three days off. Unless there is an emergency need at the sanctuary, days off are consecutive. The shelter is within driving distance to several local, state, and federal parks including the Tahoe National Forest. It’s also within driving distance to Grass Valley or Nevada City which contain theatres, movies, restaurants, concerts, wineries, bars and recreational areas. In the other direction is our California’s capital, Sacramento which is full of restaurants, bars, museums, and recreational areas. The United States does have strict drinking age rules – only those 21 and older may drink. Please note that Yosemite National Park is between 4 and 4.5 hours away. The Bay Area (e.g. San Francisco) is between 2.5 and 3 hours away. If you have a driving licence and are 21 years old (25 years old for some companies), you can rent a car to discover the US-West Coast. At NATUCATE we will be pleased to assist you with your travel plans and give you tips for a memorable trip.


Project background

To cover the increasing consumption for meat, dairy products and eggs, factory farming has been expanding over the last few decades. This way many animals suffer exploitation and terrible living conditions. Founded in 1989, the animal sanctuary provides shelter to rescued farmed animals arriving from small and large farms, slaughterhouses, research facilities, and neglect or cruelty cases. The sanctuary aims at offering a lifelong place of refuge at which the animals receive utmost respect and devotion. In addition to providing sanctuary to farmed animals, the facility serves as an education and advocacy center. It offers tours, cooking classes and workshops as well as volunteer opportunities. Because factory farming takes the lives of billions of land animals each year in the United States, all team members promote a vegan, cruelty-free lifestyle.

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