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NWRA Symposium 2004
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Fun in the Sun

Orlando, FL 

by Jeannie Lord

Balmy and unseasonably warm temperatures in Orlando, Florida, greeted more than 420 participants at this year’s National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Annual Symposium hosted by the Florida Wildlife Rehabilitators Association. Five days of programming provided fantastic learning and sharing experiences on a variety of levels. Ninety-four paper presentations were offered, with topics ranging from parasites to disaster plans and post-release studies to emerging diseases. Sixteen workshops enabled hands-on experience mastering techniques like songbird splinting or reptile critical care.

Participants also had special opportunities to view natural Florida and enjoy the unique field trips that were offered. An abundance of birds and sea life certainly made Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge a premier trip. The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey trip was very informative and the behind the scenes tour at SeaWorld Adventure Park was one of a kind. SeaWorld provided our multitude of participants close up observation and information regarding the rehabilitation process of marine life patients that SeaWorld admits and provides with medical assistance. From choices of educational classes, workshops, roundtable discussions, and field trips, NWRA Symposium 2004 was an all-inclusive learning opportunity for rehabilitators and others interested in the field.

There were also opportunities to relax, share, and laugh with old and new friends. The Tuesday night Icebreaker was the forerunner for mingling, socializing, eating, and exchanging—an event preceding the subsequent days of intense learning and focused activities. Friday night brought relaxation in the form of the annual NWRA Awards Banquet. With the soft, evening Floridian winds channeling in through open doors, guests arrived in fashion. After fine dining and libations, awards were presented to the following: the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award to Sigrid Ueblacker; Board of Directors Award to Dianne Tuff for Strategic Planning; James J. Wolf Scholarship to Linda DeEulis; and Amy Block received the Eric Orendorff Memorial Scholarship. The Ed Heistand Memorial Scholarship was given to Chris Enright for his paper submitted in the Veterinary Student Competition. Grants also were awarded during the dinner. Flo Tseng, DVM and her intern Tara Rittle, DVM received a grant for Clinical Investigation of West Nile Virus in Raptors. Dr. Melvin Sunquist and Maena Voight received a grant for Post-release Study of Brazilian Free-tailed Bats.

The evening’s entertainment following dinner was a combination of the many hidden or unknown talents of symposium participants themselves! Mark Mitchell and Jeannie Lord hosted the first Rehabilitators Idol talent competition. An enthusiastic and very supportive crowd cheered and encouraged participants—fellow rehabilitators, veterinarians, family, and friends—with talents ranging from guitar playing or wiggling of ears, to singing, dancing, jokes, and mimicry. A good time was had by all!

Tired but inspired, and with great reluctance in leaving not only such wonderful temperatures, but the old friends and new acquaintances, attendees departed for their respective homes and awaiting patients. One attendee summed it up best with “I don’t remember when I have ever learned and laughed so much at the same time!”


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