Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.
I grew up in Eastern Kentucky. When I was about 10 years old my grandfather found a pair of (almost) fledgling Eastern Screech Owl chicks at the family lake house in the spring, when he arrived to get things in order for the upcoming summer. He brought them to me and instructed me to feed them for a few days until they were strong enough to fly into in the forest that surrounded my childhood home. I’ll never forget the sound they made when I opened the box to peek in; that screech seemed to terrify everyone - except me. In a few days’ time, they were off on their own and I was hooked, or “taloned”?
How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?
Early in my wildlife rehab volunteer days I joined IWRC so that I could access the reduced fee on their online classes for Pain Management, Wound Management, Fluid Therapy as well as published materials and eventually the Basic Wildlife Rehab Course. IWRC has always exemplified the profession of wildlife rehabilitation to me, and I’m honored to help serve the membership as a board member so that they can access the same resources for the benefit of the animals we serve.
Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC's mission.
There are certainly members of the board and membership that have more in-depth knowledge of the medical and biological aspects of wildlife rehab than I do. There was a time when I believed those would be my strongest assets in this field, but when the opportunity-task of setting up and administering my own organization presented itself, I set about learning all I could to ensure its success. That determination led me to pursue a comprehensive Nonprofit Management Certificate through the University of San Diego. I’ve learned so very much about the governance of a nonprofit through that program, and combined with my experience as a wildlife rehab volunteer and involvement with unrelated professional organizations as a committee member - I think I come with strong, broad foundation of knowledge to work from.
As for a particular passion; I have experienced so many periods in my wildlife rehab career where I felt isolated and alone, where I saw the obvious effects of inter-agency and even inter-personal failures to communicate and cooperate that left the wildlife patients on the losing end. This, in turn leads to a high rate of rehabber burn-out. I really feel it is my purpose to foster better communication, understanding and cooperation between all involved. It’s all about collaboration!
Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator? (or as an IWRC board member?)
My background in art has come in handy when I’m explaining a new enclosure design to my husband. He works in construction so we make a good team.
If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?
A difficult choice between sweet, calm but utterly relentless Jane Goodall and charming, wild and equally determined Steve Irwin. Either way – it would be a “wildlife warrior”.
If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?
Flamingo – the strutting, dancing and the fabulous plumage make this an easy choice for me.
What is the thing for which you have waited in line the longest?
1987 University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Midnight Madness when I was about 11 years old. I was a gymnast/cheerleader at the time and while our moms held our place in line a group of my friends and I found a patch of grass to tumble and stunt to occupy the hours of time in line. While tumbling I (just slightly) dislocated my elbow, but when I felt it and grabbed my arm, I popped it right back into place. Nonetheless - we went to ER got an x-ray, ice pack and a sling and got back in line in time to enter and enjoy the night. A close 2nd would be standing 1st in line for Janet Jackson concert tickets.
What excites you so much that it keeps you awake the night before?
Any wildlife “release day”, though it’s usually an even mix of anxiety and excitement.
Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.
English Bulldog – Krystal
French Bulldog – Romeo
A blind French Bulldog/Boston Terrier (puppy mill rescue) – Poppy
2 Goats – Luke & Sombra + an assortment of chickens & domestic ducks
California Desert Tortoise – Jean-Louis Agassiz
About 50 Koi + 10 Red-eared Slider turtles
Umbrella Cockatoo who has refused all names we’ve offered except for “Cockatoo”
European Starling – Clarice Starling (Silence of the Lambs)
Yellow-naped Amazon (parrot) – Slider
Lilac-crowned Amazon (parrot) – Hilo
Green-cheeked Amazon (parrot) – Cali
2 Red-masked Conure (parakeets) – Nene & Conner
2 Blind Green-cheeked Amazon (parrots) – Justice & Stevie (because: Justice is blind, and Stevie Wonder)
Also, our rehab facility is on my home property so at any given time there could be just about any kind of animal - in any kind of crate - in any room or area of the house. Neonate baby birds in portable brooders go on the nightstand beside my bed so that I can monitor them during the night and administer their first hydration in the early morning. I literally live in a zoo.