2017 Year in Review: Shelley Henry, Front-desk Coordinator

It’s time to look back on 2017! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2017 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.
Where do I start?  It’s not every day you carry a Bobcat kitten wrapped in a hoodie or speak to a woman holding a goose in her lap as she kayaks down a river while talking to you on her cell phone.  That’s a unique bit of multitasking!  Don’t try this at home!  It’s been an interesting year for me here at The Wildlife Center of Virginia, full of surprises, learning opportunities, beautiful wildlife and generous people -- like Martha, a woman who brings us treats nearly every week, and the enthusiastic students who travel through bringing stories and their own perspectives from their home state or country.  They work so hard and still lighten the mood every day.  I’m filled with thoughts and emotions as I see and hear about the animals that are injured, rehabilitating, and recovering -- and also those that, unfortunately, aren’t able to regain their health in order to be released.  It’s a very critical moment when you are presented with the responsibility of directing someone in helping wildlife or when receiving an animal here at the Center.  You are a facilitator, a triage practitioner, a (hopefully)  calming friend to some who call or come in, a listener, an advisor, and sometimes a crisis interventionist of a sort … and that could happen in all in one day!  What gives you the tools to practice all of these roles?  The team behind you.  As in nature, without the intricate connections between all of us, we would not be as strong, healthy, or adaptable.  The parallels with nature jump out at me every day that I’m here.
There are so many moments I can recall since I started here five months ago that I will never forget, but what I remember most are the beautiful and broken wildlife, because despite seeing animals come in each day -- sometimes many of the same species in one day -- each one sparks that feeling of respect at their ability to even survive out in the wild with the dangers of life, of human interactions, lead poisoning, cars, cats, and any manner of obstacles to their survival.  A small Eastern Screech-owl with its delicate bones is hit by a car and lives to reach us here.  That they even survive the event amazes me, as they do not spend time complaining as we might, but endure and even attempt to carry on under tremendous odds.  It’s continually inspiring and encourages me to move toward the philosophy they -- unknowingly and freely -- offer us with each encounter.  We are helping them, but they are helping us even more than we may realize.  Thank you, wildlife.