Wildlife Center Volunteers Receive A. Willis Robertson Award

Throughout the 36-year history of the Wildlife Center of Virginia, the organization’s accomplishments have been widely recognized. The Center has cared for nearly 80,000 wild animals, conducted and published important wildlife health studies, trained more than 1,000 wildlife veterinarians, and brought conservation education to literally millions of people worldwide.  The Center’s veterinary, conservation, and education professionals are known and respected around the globe. 

What is less well-known is that the work of these professionals is supported, strengthened, and enhanced by a dedicated corps of unsung—and unpaid—heroes.  These are the hard-working volunteers who contribute to every single aspect of the Wildlife Center’s work. 

In 2018, Wildlife Center volunteers donated nearly 20,000 hours of unpaid-but highly-skilled labor.  This had a value of more than $250,000.   

Every single day, volunteers are at the Center, assisting with medical treatments, feeding patients,  cleaning cages, managing databases,  and troubleshooting computer systems.   

Other volunteers, across Virginia, are waiting for the call to go rescue and transport injured or orphaned wildlife. Still others are busy helping to organize fundraising activities and special events.   

In one way or another, all of the Center’s volunteers are helping to advance the organization’s mission of “teaching the world to care about, and care for, wildlife and the environment.” 

Without these dedicated volunteers, the Wildlife Center would never have become what it is today.

For their countless contributions to the Wildlife Center’s important achievements in wildlife medicine and conservation,  the Virginia Chapter of the Wildlife Society presented the A. Willis Robertson Award to the volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia at their annual meeting on February 5, 2019. 

Three volunteers were present to receive the award on behalf of all WCV volunteers, including: 

Deborah Bailey: Deb has been volunteering with the Wildlife Center of Virginia since 2010.  She is a member of the Veterinary Treatment Team, where she assists with restraint and treatments of hospital patients.  She is also an excellent teacher and often takes new volunteers under her wing to train them the array of daily tasks. 

Shelly Hokanson: In her “real life”, Shelly is an assistant professor at James Madison University, teaching in the School of Media Arts and Design.   She has been an Outreach Department volunteer and docent since March 2013.  In this role, she leads on-site tours and presents off-site education displays to groups ranging from scout troops and elementary school students to Master Naturalists and wildlife professionals. 

Peg Leinbach:  Peg has been volunteering with the Wildlife Center of Virginia since 2004. She divides her time between the Veterinary Department, where she is a member of the Treatment Team and the Outreach Department where she leads tours and open houses as a docent. Peg also serves as an on-call wildlife transporter and drives wildlife in need to the Center for treatment. 

We're thrilled that our volunteers' hard work is being acknowledged. Congratulations, and thank you, volunteers!