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Tidbits from New Staff Member Katie McInnis

Headshot of Katie McInnis wearing magenta scrubs.Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship with wildlife.

 As a child I always loved animals. I distinctly remember finding a squirrel that had been hit by a car and wanting to help him. My mother helped me get the squirrel into a box and we took it to the vet. Although things didn’t turn out like I had hoped, I was happy that I was able to do something to help ease his pain.

Describe a particular area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC’s mission.

 I am very passionate about bringing education and resources to wildlife rehabbers of all skill levels. Over the years I have seen many different rehab facilities and met many different volunteers and rehabbers. I truly believe that networking and continuing education are not only vital for excellent animal care, but for the health and well being of rehabbers as well!

Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator (or IWRC staff member)?

I am very good at planning and being prepared. Whether it is driving to rescue an injured bird or planning out a lengthy anesthesia and surgery, I always make sure I have everything I need on hand before I begin.

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?

Doug Mader, DVM, one of the foremost authorities on reptile medicine!

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?

I would love to be a travelling wildlife vet, going from country to country to work in various rehab facilities, learning to care for different species and helping with education and conservation.

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

A hedgehog!

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.
We currently have a dog and two cats. Dolly is a walker coon hound that came from the Kansas Humane Society. She loves her creature comforts, and is very happy as long as she has a warm, soft bed, plenty of food and someone to pet her. She is very affectionate, but quite drooly, which can be problematic. Miss Kitty is a laid back cat, that was surrendered to one of the vet hospitals I worked at. She likes to be petted occasionally, but has more fun chasing our other cat around the house or laying in the sun. She is around 12 years old, so a bit more sedate. Kiki is 2 years old, and was found wandering outside, she was skinny and had a terrible flea infestation. A vet tech I worked with brought her in and convinced me to foster her. Of course we ended up keeping her. She is now quite fat, and hates having her flea meds applied. She can be very affectionate but also very surly. At times she will jump up on something she shouldn’t and when you try to remove her watch out! She knows what you are doing and will bite you! She does like to have cuddle time every morning though. She also enjoys watching squirrels, and has tried unsuccessfully to pounce on one or two by launching herself at the glass window. Oops! Both cats stay indoors, but they love going out in the garage to explore and have a change in scenery.

Board member Francisca Astorga shares tidbits

Close up portrait of Francisca in a sunhat with a toddler pulling on her ear.Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.

I have many cousins, and some of them live up in a reserve, about 40 kms from Santiago. At some point when I was a child, I don't know why, they received an injured juvenile condor. The Andean condor is present in the National Shield as it is the national bird. My family kept the condor in an innate “rescue” process, which was a completely unknown concept in Chile. The condor was part of the family; every child would have a particular level of responsibility with this new member: cleaning the cage, feeding, building something for him. At some point, the condor started to fly, and my family kindly said goodbye. Initially, the condor made daily trips into the wild and would returned back every night. One day, he did not came back. And never did. Months later, my family discovered that he had been shot by locals.

This was really shocking for me. Why would someone do something like that? I was 11 years old. I wrote a tale for the school about the experience and won the first place in a story contest. Besides this literature inspiration, something about the condor’s story moved me deeply and made me question about the human-nature relationship.

On the other hand, was this “human-nature-bond” the best way to live for the condor? Probably not. He was a wild animal, but since he was raised with humans, he did not acquire the normal distrust of people, which unfortunately finally facilitated his death. A better understanding of wild species needs was also required.

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?

About 5 years ago, I went to a IWRC conference as a speaker. I have been working in a Chilean rehabilitation center, and I wanted to share my experience. This was my first international experience associated with wildlife rehabilitation. In this event, I met board members and the whole team of IWRC. I was impressed and amazed. It was like a family; but beyond that, they were strong, fully motivated, highly specialized, and with so so many human resources and expertise. After this, I could not step back, I could only step forward and jump in as a board member.

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC's mission.

I am veterinarian, but most of my work with wildlife has not been related to clinical practice. I am much more interested in science, exploring different areas that aim to contribute to wildlife conservation. In this context, I believe that rehabilitators, and all areas associated with conservation, should increase their science-based approach.

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

I would definitely prefer to be any herbivorous animal. I think it would be so exhausting and painful to depend on the life of other animals to survive. Hopefully, a big herbivorous, such a giraffe, to be able to travel around those amazing landscapes.

What excites you so much that it keeps you awake the night before?

Working with wildlife, there are so many niches that need to be covered. I work mainly in research-based projects, but also in many other related things such as protected areas and ex-situ conservation programs. But some of the most motivational activities in which I participate are all those associated with education and broadcasting. We can't just work and not share what is being done. We need to train new generations, motivate them. Not only students, but also the community. I think these are the things that I would really like to put more energy into.

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

My PhD thesis was focused on the effects of free-ranging dogs on wildlife and public health. But what can I say: I love dogs. I have 6 dogs. Not intentionally, I would really prefer keeping just 3 at the most, but we keep adopting these beautiful beasts from the streets or even from natural areas. We are only a complete family with them, and they are always reminding me that humans are SO not the only friends that we can have.

Board Treasurer Dani Nicholson shares tidbits of her journey in wildlife rehab

photo of Dani NicholsonPlease share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.

My father and mother were active and adventurous, respected all animals and nature in general. We loved to be outdoors. I remember stopping the car to watch snakes and tarantulas cross the road. The brown bears were understood to be beautiful and respected for their power and intelligence. For a time, we lived on our grandparents property outside of Yosemite and were taught that a particular outcropping of rocks was to be avoided because the rattlesnakes lived there and came out to sun themselves. No one would have ever killed them, we simply learned how to avoid confrontations with wildlife, which I’ve carried my entire life. I remember being mesmerized by spider webs and the list goes on and on.  We were only allowed to watch programs on television about nature, other than the occasional sporting events. My father was especially curious about nature and was my greatest influence, but my mother’s side of the family is Native American which I believe also influenced the way we lived.

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?

I had begun transporting for Pacific Wildlife Care after being introduced to the organization when I found 7 young opossums on our property. I helped raise them until they went to a rehabilitator. I joined, and at my first training with PWC, I heard from the instructor that there are two organizations we should join, IWRC and NWRA. I joined both immediately.

I had a conversation with Kai Williams, IWRC’s Executive Director, about my history, and when I mentioned that I had been an accountant, Kai’s eyes lit up while she explained that their current Treasurer was going to be stepping down due to other commitments. We discussed my joining the board, and I was happy to be able to support IWRC in this way.

Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator? (or as an IWRC board member?)

I feel that having been a mother has brought me a sense of selflessness when faced with a vulnerable animal who needs help; my history of owning a retail business has helped me to understand how to work with the public and with volunteers within our center, and my profession of accounting has helped me to understand the needs of running a business, even a non-profit rehabilitation center and now in helping IWRC as Treasurer.

Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

I feel that I accomplished what I have dreamed of my entire life, working with animals and living in the country. I am proud of the many steps I’ve taken in life to get here. Helping animals makes me feel vital and alive.

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?

Dr. Jane Goodall has always been my idol. I believe she came along at a time when I was young and impressionable. She made me think that I wanted to do something like she was doing. I didn’t know where that would lead, but the fact that she was doing what I admired, inspired me.

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?

I love what I’m doing and wouldn’t do anything different; however, I also love art and would love to paint and make more pottery.

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

I would love to be a brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) - to be able to fly over the ocean. Being in love with brown pelicans and loving the ocean has informed that choice.

What is the thing for which you have waited in line the longest?

For a train in India. I don’t mind waiting in lines - you are in a perfect position to watch people, which I love to do.

What excites you so much that it keeps you awake the night before?

I would say that worrying about an animal’s health is the #1 cause of sleepless nights; however, on a positive note, it would have to be interactions with wildlife such as my recent whale excursions in Baja California.

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

I have 3 rescued domestic geese (2 were attacked by dogs at a local lake, and 1 was obviously a hand raised pet that had been dumped at a lake); 8 Rhode Island red chickens; 4 dogs (2 border collie mixes who protect my other animals, 1 lap dog and 1 black and tan coon hound); 1 rescued black cat and 2 budgies who were found hatched this year at a friend's aviary (not a rescue, but also not purchased).

Board President Sue Wylie shares tidbits about her life with wildlife

 

Sue in green scrubs examining a gull.
Sue Wylie

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.

I have always preferred being outdoors and loved nature. My parents brought me camping every weekend May to October starting at the age of two weeks until I was a teen. My most memorable moment was when I was 8 years old seeing my dad jumping out of the car to capture an injured Canada goose that was running in one of the fields. He captured the bird, brought it to the car and plopped it on my mom’s knee (she was less than amused). We then found a facility to care for the bird.

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?

Eight years ago I came onto the board as its youngest member at that time. My goal as a board member was to represent new rehabilitators in the best way that I could. This gave the board a fresh perspective on what novice rehabilitators were facing and what services and programs were most needed from IWRC for those in the field.

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC's mission.

One of my main interests is focusing on animal welfare and the science behind rehabilitation to ensure that we are respecting the wildlife that we are caring for and that they are surviving once we release them. As Development chair, I have the opportunity to promote IWRC and sensitize people to the work that we do.

Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator? (or as an IWRC board member?)

I actually love working with people. I enjoy coordinating projects, working in teams and encouraging others to get involved. It can be a lot of fun!

Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

For my career, I would say becoming President of IWRC has been my biggest accomplishment. It honestly has been an amazing experience that has allowed me to meet many great people as well as contribute to the rehabilitation community. As Executive Director of Le Nichoir, I’m also proud of the construction of our new wild bird conservation centre based in Quebec in 2016.

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?

That is a hard question because I have had many important mentors in my life, but I’d have to say, definitely David Attenborough. I just love his accent!

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?

I would either work with children with learning disabilities or in wildlife enforcement. These are two things that I hold close to my heart. Helping animals and people in need is very important to me.

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

A chimney swift.

What excites you so much that it keeps you awake the night before?

Waiting for chimney swifts to be brought to Le Nichoir in July. I literally dream about it!

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.
I shared my home with Touli, a crested gecko.

Board member Kim Poisson shares some tidbits with us

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Kim Poisson

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.

My father found an injured crow when I was a child.  We helped him recover from his injuries and when he was released he lived near our house for years, bringing me trinkets and creating a desire in me to help injured wildlife.  

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?

I joined the Course Development Committee and was asked to join the board by a past board member.  I felt that IWRC was heading a very positive direction and wanted to be a part of it.

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC's mission.

My passion is course development.  I am very excited to be a part of the growth in this aspect of IWRC.  The future promises many new and varied courses!

Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

The revision of the Basic Course and Manual and being an IWRC course instructor

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?

Jane Goodall

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?

A veterinarian or zookeeper.  Anything with animals :)

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

A Redtail hawk

What excites you so much that it keeps you awake the night before?

Symposiums

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

Three dogs, a cat, and a Meyer's parrot named Olive

Board Member Christopher Boykin Shares Some Tidbits with Us

Chris Boykin with bird

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.

I grew up on an old one classroom school yard property in central Mississippi that abutted a 500-acre peach farm. I remember the first time i happened upon a three-toed box turtle and wondered with delight at all of her colors on her head and forelimbs. I also recall the day I was walking under the oak trees and came face to face with the web of a spiny orb weaver. I raised my hand to tear it down (I was a little boy) and then hesitated. I thought, “what has the spider ever done to me”? Upon realize “nothing”, I lowered my hand and forever forged a bond with spiders that day.

 

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?

The Pelican Harbor Seabird Station has a long history with IWRC. I attended the 2014 annual conference and was very impressed with the staff, board and sessions. It was an honor for me to join the board to expand my repertoire and network within the wildlife rehabilitation profession, as well as contribute to the fundraising committee.

 

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC's mission.

Science based education has always been important to me and will forever be a passion of mine.

 

Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator? (or as an IWRC board member?)

I’d like to think my fundraising and marketing skills have been helpful in telling the stories of what we do in order to bring in the revenue needed to accomplish our mission(s).

 

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?Photo of Christopher Boykin in Florida swamp

Run full time eco-tours to Latin America and Cuba

 

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

Definitely a river otter, as they are so graceful in the water and get to enjoy land too.

 

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

4 chickens, 3 tortoises, 2 chestnut-fronted macaws and a one-eyed tuxedo cat named Pedro.