Farewell For Now

Where do I even begin? How do I cram into a blog post nearly three years of my life working at the Wildlife Center? Strangely these past few years seem like a long time, but also like time has moved at warp speed. One day I’m walking through the Center’s doors to begin a new adventure as an outreach coordinator, and the next I’m walking out and making my first steps toward a dream that I’ve had for a long time.

Ever since I graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, I made a promise to myself that I would someday return and live in the Palmetto State. While I am excited to go back “home” (I’m originally from Richmond, VA, but people often think I’m from South Carolina by the way I talk about the state), I am sad to finish this chapter in my life.

I’ve made some very special memories here at the Center and met some pretty incredible people. I’ve learned a lot about myself, gained new skills, and am still amazed by the efforts people take to help wildlife. Whether it is transporting an animal three hours to the Center, donating money via flash fundraisers on the moderated discussion, performing difficult surgeries, feeding baby animals every fifteen minutes, or leading education programs, it is the dedicated volunteers, hard-working staff, and compassionate citizens that make the Center the organization that it is today. I will miss leading education programs and working with education animals (if Phebe the opossum suddenly goes missing, I had nothing to do with it), but what I will miss most is being at the heart of this growing organization and how I fit into the intricate puzzle.

Iranian author Azar Nafisi captures my thoughts and feelings on this bitter-sweet goodbye:

“You get a strange feeling when you are about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

When I walk out the Center’s doors on my last day, I will no longer be outreach coordinator Chapin. My “normal” days at the office will now be fond memories. I will no longer be working with education animals and have the inside scoop about Center happenings. I won’t wake up each morning knowing that I will see a hawk, owl, eagle, or that I will have at least three discussions a day about wildlife, the environment, or something new in conservation medicine. Lastly, my profession will no longer be centered on wildlife and I won’t always be surrounded by those who always think about wildlife.

While it sounds sad, sometimes you have to let go of good things so that new opportunities and journeys can begin. I am so incredibly excited to move to a place that I love and to start a new adventure. I had a friend tell me that I was like a patient that had come to the Center for care -- I had been admitted to the Center, helped to grow and develop, trained for life outside the Center, and now it is time for me to go “home”.

Despite going into a different field, I will carry my acquired Wildlife Center of Virginia knowledge and skills with me everywhere I go. While I won’t be an official outreach coordinator for the Wildlife Center of Virginia, I can still and will teach the world to care about and care for wildlife and the environment. I am a better -- and I’d like to think a smarter, wiser, and more competent -- person having worked at the Center, and for that, I am forever grateful.

I refuse to say goodbye – it’s too final and definite. There are too many unknowns in life, and I’m pretty sure that I will again see many of the people who have stepped into my life during my time at the Wildlife Center. Especially if I have any say in the matter. Instead I’m saying “Farewell for now, but I’ll see y’all soon”.


Chapin Hardy
Outreach Coordinator 2013-2016