2015 Year in Review: Randy Huwa, Vice President

It’s time to look back on 2015! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2015 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

2015 marks my 10th anniversary at the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

It doesn’t really seem like I’ve worked here for a decade. I actually had to check our personnel records to confirm that I really and truly started in October 2005.

Time flies when you’re having a good time. And … it really has been a good time.

I work on the non-hospital side of the Center. During my decade here, I’ve never fed a rat to a snake. I’ve never administered fluids or evaluated a radiograph. One time I kinda helped hold the head of a Golden Eagle, but that’s another story.*

What I do get to see – every day – is the tremendous community of friends who support our dedicated team of our veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitators … the training we provide to the next generation of wildlife health-care providers … the education and involvement and inspiration we provide through programs in classrooms and libraries and through the Internet.

I get to see all of the online donations to the Center – and the purchases of puppets and t-shirts and calendars and Caring for Critters and Critter Cam sponsorships. Because I generally pick up the Center’s mail from the Post Office each day, I also get to see the letters and cards and donations that come in – responses from the Wildlife Center family.

Many of our supporters first learned of the Center when they brought an animal to us. That’s how I first learned about the Wildlife Center – almost 20 years ago – when a nest of baby squirrels was disturbed by workmen taking down a rotting tree in our yard, and my wife and I ferried them to the Center.

Some of our supporters have seen Ed release an eagle … or Raina or Chapin do a program … or have toured the Center during an open house.

But many members of our Wildlife Center family have never been to the Center – or never even been in Virginia! They know us through the Internet, Critter Cam, and social media.

What brings all of us together is a shared commitment to wildlife.

Our Wildlife Center “family” of supporters – here in Virginia and across the country and around the globe – care about wildlife and invest in the life-saving and life-changing work of the Center.

We take very seriously the responsibility that comes with these donations. We realize that these are your funds that have been entrusted to us.

Some of our donations are in-kind – donations of “stuff”. Twice a week, for example, I visit the Whole Foods Market in Charlottesville, and the staff there is unfailingly helpful. Over the past few years, they’ve donated thousands of dollars worth of fruits, vegetables, and fish that we’ve used to feed Center patients. When we needed a supply of grocery bags to prepare “sack lunches” for the bears – Mikhael at Whole Foods came to the rescue. Earlier this month, when Nick noticed that some of the Christmas trees had brown spots and were not quite up to Whole Foods standards, he gave me a call – and the bear cubs and some of our education ambassadors got some pre-Christmas treats.

Sometimes donations – either online or in the mail – come with notes and personal reflections. “Keep up the good work” – that’s a common theme. “I’ve been with you since the Rock Stars” … “wish I could do more.” My colleagues and I get enormous encouragement and support from this thoughtfulness.

We recently received an on-line contribution in a very odd amount … $81.89. With it came this explanation …

“This donation was made possible by five-year old Zoe P, who saved 10% of her allowances this year for the Wildlife Center, and asked each member of her family to match her contribution.”

We’re grateful for each and every donation … of every size. Thank you!

--Randy

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* Ok … sometimes I do get to handle wild animals – more or less. From time to time, I transport patients to or from the Center. One of my most “famous” transports was featured back in 2012 on the Moderated Discussion – “The Bear Story”. You may re-live that experience with me here.

No cubs for me in 2015. Mostly turtles and bats, as I recall.

And I did get to release a few animals. A few songbirds. And a Snapping Turtle. My wife Jackie – who helps the Wildlife Center with LOTS of projects – helped me on that release. Her account on that snapper release … and some pictures … may be found on her blog.

Happy New Year!

Keep checking the Wildlife Center's blog for more year-end posts this week!