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Working with wolves

Active-duty soldier discovers volunteer opportunity at Wolf Haven

Spc. Mary K. McKeand, right, provides an educational opportunity to visitors at Wolf Haven International. Photo courtesy Wolf Haven

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Spc. Mary K. McKeand is a Stryker Systems Maintainer with 1-14 Calvary Warhorse, D Trp, FST. She visited Wolf Haven International in January of this year and fell in love with it, and their mission to preserve the habitat. 

"I learned about the volunteer opportunities after my first tour and Wolf Haven always needs volunteers," said McKeand. "I started volunteering there in March after I returned from a field rotation. I find myself there just about every weekend now usually as a docent or doing something with gardening or an education event," she said.

Wolf Haven International is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to conserve and protect wolves and their habitat. The organization provides sanctuary for captive-born, displaced wolves. In 36 years, they have rescued and provided sanctuary for more than 250 animals. Wolf Haven is situated on 82 acres, which includes Mima Mound prairie, wetlands, woodlands and a 300-plus-year-old evergreen known as "The Grandfather Tree".

For McKeand, Wolf Haven has become a sanctuary for her as well, providing a respite from military duties. "It helps relax me after a long week. Being with the wolves and other volunteers has really made my time in Washington special," she said. McKeand has always loved the outdoors. Her father influenced her to love animals and respect the outdoors. "He always had me outside fishing, camping and hiking," she added.

McKeand successfully balances work and volunteering. Wolf Haven is very flexible with their volunteers, helping them find opportunities that work with their schedule. "I've never found volunteering to be an issue with work," she said. "It's just doing something with that extra free time that I enjoy. I feel like I'm making a difference by being there. Educating the public about wolves and predators and what impact it could have on our environment without them."

Volunteering is not all giving, and many volunteers find they receive benefits as well. "I plan to achieve a long-time goal to become a biologist to study large mammals and the habitat that they live in. I'm volunteering with Wolf Haven and currently an intern with U.S. Fish and Wildlife to gain experience in the field that I love," said McKeand.  

As a member of the military, she has found volunteering an opportunity to experience the local civilian community. "Wolf Haven has been a blessing and I urge military members that may be interested in the same field to join our team of volunteers," she said. "It helps with the change from military to civilian by being with the public while making a difference in the world, big or small."

The mission at Wolf Haven relies on their team of dedicated volunteers. Opportunities include sanctuary guide, docent, prairie educator, grounds and outreach. If you are interested in volunteering, complete the volunteer application and watch the six-minute video, both available on the Wolf Haven website and return to Cindy Irwin,  

Wolf Haven International, by appointment only, 3111 Offut Lake Rd. SE, Tenino, 360.264.4695 ext. 220,

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