I am currently getting wildlife rehab experience, will be starting SA clincial experience in Oct. when this new vet office opens, and will be starting at a raptor center next week. I am working full-time and realize that I may have to quit my job in the spring because I am taking Orgo, Microbiology, Physics and Stat and volunteering. I plan to apply next year for the 2009 cycle.
Does anyone know of any places where I can get volunteer experience in NC? I moved here earlier this year from Cali. and I have been having a hard time finding places to volunteer, esp. vet offices. Any help would be appreciated.
It sounds like you already have found two great local volunteer opportunities. I was going to recommend Piedmont Wildlife Center in Durham, the Carnivore Preservation Trust in Pittsboro, the Carolina Raptor Center near Charlotte or the American Wildlife Refuge (raptors) in Raleigh. Vet-wise, it doesn't seem like you'd need to volunteer at a small-animal clinic if you're currently working at one. Avian & Exotic Animal Care in Raleigh will sometimes let pre-vets shadow, but usually not volunteer due to safety regulations, if you're interested in getting some experience with exotics. I know a lot of people who volunteered at the Equine Unit at NCSU's vet school for equine experience (on a side note, this one is a great way to get your foot in the door at NCSU). Of course there are all of the local shelters as well, including the SPCA shelter in Raleigh which is really, really nice.
I personally worked in Raleigh and wanted to volunteer helping animals in some way, but I was burned out from cage-cleaning at work all the time, so I volunteered at ReTails, a local thrift shop whose proceeds went directly to a low-income spay-neuter program (a lot of fun, and looks great on the resume).
I generally found in NC that it is hard to volunteer in private veterinary practices because of safety reasons. They are sometimes open to shadowing, where you are not allowed to touch the animals. I personally think working hands-on as a tech provides much more in the way of experience and knowledge that will help you in vet school.
PS- I definitely think you have a shot at getting in. I am also a 2004 undergrad, and took the past few years to decide I wanted to go to vet school, and then to get in. I had a similar "low" GPA (lower in terms of what vet-students usually average), and I managed to get accepted into two out-of-state schools this year. I think my decent GRE grades along with a lot of variety in terms of experience helped me along the way. As a side note, I've found that it is incredibly hard to get into NCSU (if that is why you relocated to NC) with a low GPA. They are a great school, and they hold a high GPA in very high regard. I applied two years in a row, and was never accepted. If you are wanting to go to NCSU, I would definitely try to network throughout the school before attending -- get a job as a tech, volunteer, etc., anything to make you seem very appealing to them.
Hope this helps!