Volunteers: Changing the Hearts and Minds of So Many

Volunteers are to Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary as fuel is to a car:  it needs them in order to run efficiently. At Cotton Branch, animals need care, (feeding, grooming, love and socialization, etc.), shelters need built and repaired, poop needs scooped, and much, MUCH more! Without volunteers, it’d be hard to not only care for the residents at the sanctuary, but also carry out Cotton Branch’s mission to rescue abused, abandoned, and neglected farm animals, as well as educate the community to make the world a better place for them. The amount of work volunteers do for the animals at the sanctuary, as well as behind the scenes, (i.e. event planning, fundraising, etc.), is just astronomical and greatly appreciated by all of the residents. The quote: “Volunteers are not paid – not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless,” rings true. Cotton Branch volunteers are priceless pieces of the Cotton Branch puzzle. Cotton Branch volunteers are compassionate and people that spark positive change; not just for the animals at the sanctuary, but change the hearts and minds of others in the community about farm animals.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” –Gandhi

Gandhi’s quote couldn’t be truer. Personally, I have always tried to live the most compassionate lifestyle I could, (eating a kind diet, treading lightly on the planet, etc.), but just after one day at the sanctuary, I was able to personally meet the animals that I was working so hard to make a difference for. This process opens your heart and mind to another world and it changes your life forever. Volunteering for Cotton Branch has changed my life, but don’t just take my word for it. Read what a few Cotton Branch volunteers have to say about their experience, as well as Jan Alber-Senn, Founder & Executive Director of Cotton Branch and Josh Costner, Director of Acceptance & Re-homing.

“Evan and I first found Cotton Branch when Jan reached out to us and offered to take Louise, a pig we were rescuing from a high kill shelter. We saved her on her euthanasia date and took her to the sanctuary. We immediately fell in love with Cotton Branch, and knew we wanted to help. Since that day, we have volunteered full time to help the wonderful animals of the sanctuary through fundraising, rehoming efforts for animals in need, animal transport, social media, and any way we are able to contribute! To say Jan and Cotton Branch has changed our lives is to simplify the impact this has had on us. We have found our calling and our passion for saving animals and educating others about all these wonderful animals and this amazing sanctuary!”

-Josh Costner, Director of Acceptance & Re-homing


“Almost two years ago I had the misfortune (fortune) to get behind a turkey truck on 1-26. It was horrifying and I haven’t eaten meat since. Also, I immediately felt a connection to turkeys! Sometime after this I came across, and I’m not even sure how, a post on Facebook about Cotton Branch’s first Thanksliving benefit dinner featuring Matty and Patty, two recued turkeys now living at Cotton Branch farm. I couldn’t attend the dinner but I felt compelled to do something! So I got in touch with Jan and set up a tour. I fell in love and asked what I could do to help. I started volunteering every weekend to help with feeding. As Jan taught me the ropes she also taught me about each and every animal there; where they come from, what their background story was, who their family members are. Those animals became my family too. I love them all dearly. I am so happy to see Cotton Branch thriving and its volunteer base growing. I know all the animals are very grateful. Those crazy critters have made me a better person.”

-Anna S., Cotton Branch Volunteer


“Volunteering at Cotton Branch for the past four years has greatly expanded my world. Through volunteering, I have been given the gifts of meeting and getting to know the beautiful animals, witnessing Jan’s generosity and dedication, and being a part of a group of people who live & breathe compassion and kindness. I have seen great changes at Cotton Branch as more people have joined the Cotton Branch Volunteer Network. I’m so glad to be a part of it!!”

-Darlene M., Cotton Branch Volunteer


“Volunteers are such an integral part of running a successful sanctuary. We have people who come to regularly scheduled work days and some give their time on other days too. Some help with feedings and clean-up, some fix fencing, work in the garden, or help with fundraising. Whatever your talent, we need you! Volunteer projects include building and repairing shelters, then painting and moving the shelter where we need it. Some people are familiar with plumbing or electrical problems, some love art and paint scenes on the houses. I think the most important volunteer project is interacting with the animals. They love visitors and the treats they bring! All the animals love the attention, and the volunteers love them in return. It’s such as win/win situation!

-Jan Alber-Senn, Founder & Executive Director


Cotton Branch Farm Sanctuary has the best volunteers. They are committed, loving, caring, and compassionate. Even though the sanctuary already has amazing volunteers, they are always in need and looking for more! If you are on-the-fence about volunteering or don’t think you can or have the skills to, please join the Cotton Branch Volunteer Network today. There are so many different kinds of opportunities and there is certainly an opportunity for everyone, (there was even a volunteer opportunity for me and I live in a totally different state)! As Jan stated above, whatever your talent or passion is, Cotton Branch NEEDS you!


**This post was originally featured on Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary’s blog, The Branch.