Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary Expands : 4.20.10

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©2009-2010 : www.nelsoncountylife.com : Marina Childs of Afton with one of the animals at Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary in our September 2009 story. Click to enlarge.
©2009-2010 : www.nelsoncountylife.com : Marina Childs of Afton with one of the animals at Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary in our September 2009 story. Click to enlarge.

Charlottesville/Schuyler, VA
We first told you about The Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary in our September 2009 issue of Nelson County Life Magazine. Click here to see that article.

Since that article last fall, the sanctuary has some great news!

The Perry Foundation has awarded a $50,000 Challenge Grant for the renovation of a barn on the grounds of Miller School for use by Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary. This award is contingent on a successful capital campaign with a goal of $118,000. Using this catalyst gift, grants from other foundations and donations from individuals must be raised to match, several times over, this important contribution to Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary’s growth. The Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary board is committed to cultivating the relationships necessary to make this effort successful. The capital campaign began with 100% of the board making capacity gifts to meet the challenge made by The Perry Foundation.

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary seeks to expand to an additional permanent and sustainable location that allows for additional and improved facilities and the infrastructure needed to rehabilitate more injured and orphaned wild animals, and in the future, to educate more people about their habitat needs. A successful capital campaign will raise the necessary funds to renovate the existing barn, create safe, species-specific outdoor caging and begin development of an educational curriculum in collaboration with the Miller School faculty.

In 2004, Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary was built around its founder’s family home. Baby animals soon took over an upstairs guest bedroom and animal diet shared the kitchen with human diet. Over twelve cages now house animals in the yard of the house, including a large cage for hawks. At any given time, the family shares space and duties with three college interns, animal care volunteers and sanctuary staff. In 2008, the Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary Board decided to expand the sanctuary to a more suitable and sustainable site. The Miller School, a private school in Batesville, offered to provide acreage and an abandoned barn for just this purpose.

More from our 2009 story The Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary. Click image above to read more.
More from our 2009 story The Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary. Click image above to read more.

“A collaborative partnership between these two organizations has significant potential to enhance the operations of both. We are excited to move substantial operations to the beautiful grounds of the Miller School”, reports Nathou Attinger, Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary founder and president.

Miller School students will benefit from an experiential learning site that will provide educational opportunities to students in the areas of math, biology, chemistry, ecology and the environment. Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to care for significantly more injured and orphaned wild animals, increase its educational programming in the future and improve its facilities. The Miller School and Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary have initiated this collaboration with a five year lease with an option to renew for at least another five years.

The existing barn on the Miller School property will be renovated so that the orphaned and newly injured wildlife can be cared for there, rather than in Schuyler (where the older animals awaiting release will continue their rehabilitation). Renovation will require a new roof on the barn, a well and septic system, and work on the inside of the barn to create a nursery, staff area, bathroom, and storage facilities. In addition, outside cages and a fenced area will created.

Eventually, the Sanctuary will develop the infrastructure necessary for its larger education mission, building an education center for visiting school groups with a parking area and trail to the main buildings and outdoor classrooms. A curriculum will be developed to train Miller School students to serve as assistants to the wildlife rehabilitators, and also as docents for visiting school groups. Finally, outreach programs will bring education animals to other schools and facilities to educate the public about the needs of wildlife and the importance of habitat protection.

The Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary was founded in 2004 with a mission to:
Provide care for injured and orphaned wildlife while they are being prepared for release back into the wild;
Inform our fellow citizens about what to do when they find an injured or orphaned wild animal, and who to contact for help with the animal; and,
Educate the citizens of Central Virginia about the habitats and needs of native wildlife.

Since the organization’s founding, the annual census has increased every year and Sanctuary staff have rescued, rehabilitated and released thousands of animals back into the wild. In 2009, Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary cared for 625 individual animals including songbirds, turtles, raccoons, chimney swifts, hawks, owls and opossum, among many other species. Animals come into care through direct referral and through the Wildlife Center of Virginia, which provides acute care to injured animals and depends on wildlife rehabilitators to nurse animals back to health and manage appropriate release

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