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NWRA Symposium 2005
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‘Working Together for Wildlife’—A Rousing Success

Minneapolis, MN

by Wendy Fox

More than 360 participants from 47 states, 3 Canadian provinces, the Netherlands, and Sweden made their way to Minneapolis, Minnesota for four amazing days of working and learning together for wildlife. The warmth of the welcome from the host committee, Minnesota Wildlife Assistance Cooperative, more than made up for the somewhat chilly temperatures.

Old friends met up again and new friendships were born during fun and informative behind-the-scenes field trips to the Minnesota Zoological Gardens, the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota.

The opening session set the tone of the Symposium, as we learned about different levels of ‘Working Together for Wildlife.’ Featured speakers Gail Buhl (Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center), Phil Jenni (Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of MN), and Dr. Julia Ponder (The Raptor Center) expanded our perspective beyond helping individual animals. We were shown how to work with people and other groups; educate the general public, volunteers, and interns; and contribute internationally for wildlife. Then we were wowed and amazed at the imaginative animal interpretations and creative story telling of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre.

Over the next four days, 84 papers were presented with topics ranging from building your facility and stocking it with volunteers to providing the best care possible for everything from songbirds to weasels. More than 70 speakers shared their expertise and answered questions. Fifteen hands-on workshops were well attended by both new rehabilitators and volunteers, and ‘old hands’ who wanted to brush up on techniques, build their networks, or expand their horizons. Among the many topics: we solved mysteries, learned radiography, and practiced immobilization techniques for wildlife.

Wildlife rehabilitators work hard, but they also know how to play hard, network, and make life-long friends. The festivities began at the Tuesday night Icebreaker. A new feature this year was a reception to especially welcome new members. Friday night was the fun of the annual Awards Banquet as Mark Mitchell and Jeannie Lord hosted the second Rehabilitator Talent Show. We enjoyed it all, from poetry that touched our hearts, to a rousing rendition of ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ by Zoe and Jeannie Lord. And who suspected that Deb Duffy, our very own central office manager, was such a talented singer and comedienne! The many raffle winners were delighted with their prizes and the silent auction winning bidders proudly took their new ‘toys’ home.

It is an annual tradition that we acknowledge and reward those members who, for a variety of reasons, deserve to be honored by their peers. This year was especially touching for many of us, as the very first Marlys Bulander Working Together for Wildlife Award was presented by Bob Bulander to the Minnesota Wildlife Assistance Cooperative to recognize their collaborative efforts on behalf of wildlife.

Minnesota had one other special surprise in store for us! Due to a crash in the northern vole population, great gray owls had moved into Minnesota and Wisconsin in search of food. A short car trip was all it took to see these beautiful creatures. One lucky group saw 53 great gray owls in two hours!

Thanks for having us Minnesota—we had a great time!

 

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