In the chilly month of January I launched a blog series to bring more awareness to the Small Change beneficiaries. I’ve featured organizations that are changing lives, empowering our neighbors, and making our communities stronger. And now with summer just around the corner, it’s perfect timing for my next Spotlight—Piedmont Wildlife Center.
I learned about Piedmont Wildlife Center (PWC) in October 2014 when I signed up to crew for my friend, Gina Fioroni, who was taking on the Tuna Run 200, a relay race from Raleigh to Atlantic Beach, North Carolina SOLO (yes, you read that correctly—solo). I donated $20 to PWC and off I went chasing my friend around in a minivan for three days.
I chose Piedmont Wildlife Center as my Small Change beneficiary because I have fond memories from childhood playing outdoors, digging in the dirt, and spending summers camping with my family. It was an opportunity to connect with nature and gain an appreciation for wildlife and our environment. Unfortunately, many kids today don’t get these same opportunities, but organizations like PWC are committed to getting kids (and adults) to leave the screens behind and opt outside.
I recently caught up with Karen McCall, PWC’s Education Coordinator, to learn more about the organization and how they are getting the community to opt outside.
What does Piedmont Wildlife Center do?
Our mission is inspiring people to develop a lifelong connection with nature and encouraging active engagement in conservation. We have three overarching programs to help meet this mission—education, conservation, and promoting the care of injured and sick native wildlife.
What is your greatest need as an organization?
Funding to support marketing efforts for our expanding programs, facilities, and staffing needs.
What does success look like?
Being an organization people come to for our expertise, quality programming, and leadership, with a strong, dedicated, and supported staff that is paid a living wage. Our offerings would continue to be available for everyone to build a community that provides a sustainable, quality of life for citizens, flora, and fauna.
Can you share a memorable impact story?
We have several stories, but here’s a good one written by Audrey Tannous-Taylor, a student who is currently in our Counselor in Training Teen Leadership Program.
This summer will be my second full year serving as a volunteer Counselor in Training (CIT) at PWC, a place where campers are taught how to interact with and respect the environment while learning outdoor skills. When I share what I love about being outdoors, the kids feed their enthusiasm back to me, which keeps me motivated to continue learning. The counselors are also constantly challenging the CITs to take leadership roles to develop their own personal strengths and skills they can pass on to kids in later years. At PWC, I’m gaining outdoor skills, developing my love of nature, and practicing environmental stewardship.
Going to PWC for the last five years has taught me I really care about the environment and I’m not willing to sit back and watch it become artificial. I’m going to stand up and affect change. At PWC, I’m helping educate campers about nature. They learn information that’s interesting and it helps them form a personal connection with nature. When they get older, I hope they hold on to what they learned at PWC and use it for their own benefit, for other people’s benefit, and for the benefit of the environment.
In the future, I not only want to educate myself further about the environment, I want to educate other people about what we can all do to make a change. If everyone makes small changes to their behavior, it can lead to a large impact on conserving the Earth’s resources. I want to help spread awareness and work with organizations that are taking steps to conserve the Earth. Specifically, I would like to continue working at PWC and expanding my knowledge of outdoor skills.
How can the community get involved with PWC?
There’s many opportunities—classes, becoming a member, joining our board, or volunteering. Volunteer positions include helping with administration, marketing, grounds maintenance, and animal husbandry (caring for the animals), just to name a few. May 13 is our annual Spring Wild Foods Dinner to support PWC—it’s an unforgettable gourmet meal featuring flavors of the Piedmont. Keep an eye on our website for all of our special events and volunteer options.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Registration is open for our summer camps! We’ve been operating out of Leigh Farm Park in Durham for about eight years and now offer camps at Umstead State Park in Raleigh and Blackwood Farm Park in Orange County. We’re currently hiring for several summer camp positions. Visit our website for more information.
Keeping with the theme of my blog, what’s your favorite local outdoor spot?
Battle Park, Chapel Hill, NC – it’s right out my door, has a great variety of hills, streams, places to sit, and flora and fauna that I love to watch change with the seasons.
If you’re interested in learning more about Piedmont Wildlife Center, getting involved, or supporting the organization, reach out to Karen McCall.
Where’s your summer race and adventures taking you? I encourage you to leave behind a little Small Change in your destination city. The organization you select may be the next Spotlight.