Working Among Wolves: Service at the Wolf Conservation Center, New York

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14299A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Work at one of the nation's leading private facilities in wolf education and conservation
  • Renovate enclosures at the endangered species location, an area not generally seen by the public


  • Accommodations in a local county park
  • All meals


DatesSep 14–21, 2014
StaffKerron Barnes

Trip Overview

The Trip

The trip will consist of a week of service work at the Wolf Conservation Center. This not-for-profit agency houses two critically endangered wolf species and carries out captive breeding as well as public visits, lectures, and other activities.

The Project

Tasks will include, but will not be limited to: removing invasive plant species, planting native species, constructing wolf furniture with a Lincoln log style, repairing fences, installing man-made wolf dens, installing webcams, doing general cleanup of debris, etc. This work will be done in the vicinity of the endangered species, but will not involve direct contact as the wolves are not being acclimated to humans. There will be opportunities to quietly observe the animals and also get close to three acclimated wolves that are used for educational programs.


Participants should arrive on the afternoon of Sunday, September 14. The trip will officially begin with the Sunday evening meal and the trip orientation and will end following breakfast on Sunday, September 21. On the work days, our work will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. We will be working at the WCC on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Wednesday will be a free day for participants to do whatever they wish. This schedule may be adjusted in the event that rain prevents outdoor work.



Getting There

The WCC is located in South Salem, New York in the northern part of Westchester County, close to Connecticut. It is 50 miles northeast of Manhattan, which is accessible via car or Metro North Railroad. The nearest rail station is Katonah. The nearest airport is Westchester County Airport. Others in the region are LaGuardia, Kennedy, and Newark.

Accommodations and Food

We will be housed at the Sal J. Prezioso County Park, commonly known as Mountain Lakes Park (MLP). The location is about 10 miles from the WCC. MLP is a 1,082-acre park with a rugged landscape that includes five lakes, native hardwoods, rock outcrops, meandering streams, and more than 10 miles of trails. The park also has the highest mountain (982 feet) in the county and an overlook with good views.

The Camp Director has made available two large yurts in a private location not far from the main entrance. The yurts are immediately adjacent to a new bathhouse (with his & hers showers and toilets, and hot & cold water) and are away from other buildings. Each yurt is equipped with 10 cots, some bureaus, and lamps (yes, there is electricity). There is a mechanical device to open a roof vent and a locking front door. We will have one yurt for gentlemen and one for ladies. There is an adjacent area where participants who prefer less comfort may set up tents.

Trip Difficulty

The work will be varied and range from light to fairly strenuous. It requires no previous experience or special skill, but familiarity with using hand tools is helpful for efficient work and prevention of injuries. Participants will generally be able to find tasks that suit their ability, strength, and pace and will not be denied food for not taking on the hardest tasks.

Equipment and Clothing

Tools and equipment will be supplied by the WCC, but as the trip time gets nearer, we may suggest some augmentation of tools, such as loppers, and rakes, from participants. Sturdy work shoes, long trousers, and long-sleeved shirts are strongly advised to prevent poison ivy and deer ticks.



  • USGS Quadrangle, Peach Lake 15 minute series



The WCC is a not-for-profit environmental education facility that also participates in the Species Survival Program (SSP) for the Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf, two of the rarest mammals in North America. There are only approximately 400 Mexican gray wolves and 300 red wolves remaining in the world, with only 150+ living in the wild. WCC is assisting the recovery of these species and is home to almost 30 of these endangered animals.

We will have a presentation from the staff of the WCC on their work and also the status of wolf conservation and protection in the US. Delisting from the endangered species list, under review at the time of this writing, poses a major threat to the progress made as a result of that listing. Interaction with the staff during the week will also provide additional information on wolf conservation issues.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.
While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.



Kerron Barnes will be leading his 10th Sierra Club Outing. Past trips have included whitewater rafting and service trips in the Adirondacks; Hawk Mountain, PA service; and service trips on the Delaware and Hudson Canal Trail in Sullivan County, NY. He also works as a river guide on the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania.

Assistant Leader:

Bill Curzie is the veteran of five Sierra Club Outings as trip co leader. He has also been a participant in three other outings, including a service trip in the remote Brooks Range in Alaska. Bill also has also volunteered in various roles in the Iditarod race for 13 years.

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