2020 Year in Review: Lauren Edzenga, Outreach Educator

It’s time to look back on 2020! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2020 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Critter Nation, this one’s for you.

As I reflect on 2020, I think a lot about Critter Nation.  I just wanted to let you all know how genuinely appreciative I am of y’alls’ support during this weird time in the world. Surely, you’ve all felt the effect of this pandemic in one way or another, but I would argue that we have not been lost in your spotlight.  That means a lot.

Randy told me once that he appreciated when I say that Critter Nation is “fiercely supportive”.  I mean that.  You all show up rain or shine to help us achieve our mission because you believe in us, and I don’t think that can be understated.  And boy, is it rainin’ out right now, friends.  But you’re here anyway, and what a comfort that is.

When we needed “grub for the cubs”, y’all came through.  Some of you even helped that fundraiser gain traction by sharing on social media, with news outlets, and with your family and friends.  The freezers full of harvested wild nuts and our surpassed financial benchmark show how dedicated you all were to helping us achieve our goal.

It was a joy “seeing” so many of you at the Center’s first virtual Gala, even though my heart ached just a bit for normal times when we’d all be fancied up, boozin’ and cruisin’ around the hotel, reminiscing and chatting.  You even bid on my precious little owl crafts in the auction to gift to a loved one.  You embraced every item that a staff member had donated or put together with such excitement … we all felt so special because of you.

So many of you showed your support throughout the entire year by sponsoring the cams, giving special shout-outs to specific departments to recognize everyone’s hard work.  You all were there with kind messages in the chat when days were long, staff was short, and everyone was exhausted.  “You are making a difference” goes a long way when you’re drained, but animals still need to be fed and the nights are long.  Some of you even sent the staff lunch, and I know that was appreciated when sometimes people were forgetting to stop long enough to eat.

Even though you couldn’t physically jump in the building and feed baby squirrels, or hose raptor enclosures, or answer emails, you did what you could.  Unrelentingly.

During this uncertain time, I am away from my family and friends, and my daily routine has been quite shaken, and many times the idea of the pandemic has been a tremendous weight to carry. 

But.  You all are here. 

Just like you always have been.  Carrying on just like you have, in all your positivity, raging support for the Center, and support of each other.  This little community that’s here cheering us on means everything to me and my work at the Center.

In reflecting on 2020, I reflect on my attachment to all of you. 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  I hope that we have provided you with even an ounce of the joy and support that you all have shown us.

We love you!

— Lauren, Outreach Educator

Check out all of our year-in-review posts!

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