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NWRA Symposium 2009
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Chicago, Illinois

by Rose Augustine

Attendees representing 35 US states, 7 Canadian provinces (with 32 participants), and individuals from Brazil, Sweden, Costa Rica, and the Cayman Islands were present!

More than 430 participants returned to Bloomingdale, IL, for the 27th National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Symposium. The Hilton Indian Lakes Resort was once again the location for rehabilitators to spend nearly a week filled with fun and learning.

Everyone able to attend enjoyed the pre–conference field trips. Many visited Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, where they were treated to a behind–the–scenes tour of the animal collections. The other field trips went to Willowbrook Wildlife Center for tours of the non–releasable wildlife exhibits and behind–the–scene rehabilitation areas. Willowbrook has been involved in wildlife rehabilitation for over 50 years and annually cares for over 7,000 injured and orphaned birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians native to northeastern Illinois.

Dr. Mark Mitchell and John Satta, the keynote speakers for the Opening Session, started the week by discussing advocacy and ways rehabilitators need to be advocates, not just for individual animals, but in everything we do. As leaders in our field, we were encouraged to be accountable for our actions and share our passion with others.

The week was filled with more than 75 presentations, including animal care methods for a variety of wildlife ranging from swallows to coyotes, proper use of medications, volunteer management, and methods of fundraising, to name only a few. In addition to all of this, there were 16 hands–on workshops that covered 9 different topics. The lectures and workshops that focused on infant mammals and infant songbirds were especially popular.

New this year was a movie night, with the feature film "Animals are Beautiful People." What a great evening—enjoying a movie and popcorn with friends!

As always, the Awards Banquet and Silent Auction on Friday night was a pleasant, fun–filled evening. Attendees enjoyed a variety of prizes from the raffle (including the ever–popular squirrel underpants), plus a wide array of selections in the silent auction.

It is impossible to include everything that took place over the week. With all of the possibilities—learning new things, improving old ideas, meeting new people, catching up with old friends, the list just goes on and on. This symposium provides all wildlife rehabilitators ways to provide the best care for wildlife, the most up–to–date techniques, and the opportunity to meet others in the profession. All in all, it was another amazing symposium!

"I've never experienced an atmosphere like it. I talked with numerous people, all of them open and willing to converse with me. It's friendly, exciting, a tremendous learning activity, and I'm unbelievable lucky to have made so many new contacts."

"Excellent speakers and a good spread of topics."

"Still learning after all these years, still yearning for more, still in love with so many wonderful people."

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