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Our Volunteers

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Rosemarie

Most people have been with their animal friends for years. My journey to becoming a volunteer with Wildworks is far from normal. As a young child, I learned I was allergic to all those fun warm blooded animals out there: dogs, rabbits, cats, horses and probably the ferrets!

Growing up and as an adult, my companions have included fish, turtles, hermit crabs, two budgies and a conure parrot. I have vicariously reveled in helping family and neighbors pet-sit their horses, dogs and cats. 

When I heard that Wildworks was in search of volunteers, I jumped at the chance.  I’ve always loved the largest cat in California the mountain lion; birds of all kinds; gopher snakes and the cute prickly hedgehog. I was delighted to learn that most of these animals — with more to come — were happily living in Coarsegold.

Karl

My love of animals started in Southern California with my canine best friends, then expanding to include cats and an iguana during six years in North Carolina. Over the last 20+ years I’ve lived in Coarsegold, raising chickens, fainting goats (they’re great!), dogs, cats, bunnies, a chinchilla, and my incredible animal-loving daughters. And now I have the good fortune to work with amazing animals (and wonderful humans) at The Nature of Wildworks. As a researcher on the processes of the mind and behavior, I’m fascinated by Wildworks' animal training techniques and the depth of intelligence of my animal friends. Knowing the value of gratitude practice, I regularly reflect on how grateful I am to be a member of the volunteer team and help care for a wide array of happy, loved animals.

Chris

Animals have always been a great interest of mine. Always enjoyed camping and backpacking and trying to see wildlife in their natural environment. I worked ten seasons with the USDA Forest Service and three with the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife. I got to work in campgrounds, programs to radio collar and monitor deer in Northern California, worked in a fish hatchery, and worked at a state wildlife area. I couldn't get a year-round job so I worked for a campground concessionare, mutual water system, private water system, and finally for Madera County in utilities.

I volunteered for many years at the Santa Rosa Bird Rescue Center and then for a long time didn't live close enough to any wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, or education centers. I was very excited when The Nature of Wildworks came to Coarsegold and am now very happy to be volunteering every week. I enjoy all of the animals- hate to say any favorites, but I have to admit I'm leaning towards bobcats.

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Michelle

I am a mom, animal lover and realtor. I grew up in Oakhurst, and actually my first job was at the local veterinary office in town. After graduating high school I moved around for a few years. Throughout the places I have lived, I have always found a home volunteering or working for different animal organizations.

After settling in Visalia, CA -I spent 10 or more years with the Valley Oak SPCA, as a board member and volunteer. When my son came along, it was necessary for a break from all, as he consumed most of my time. In later years, when free time opened for me- I was ready to go back to do volunteer work with animals.  I wanted to try something different than dogs and cats, but not sure what. One day I was reading the Coarsegold chamber of commerce newsletter. They wrote - The Nature of Wildworks had moved to Coarsegold. Hmm - I miss the mountains and thought this could be a good place for me to fill my need. I checked it out, and this has become my new home. 

I have fallen in love with the animals, and look forward to my day there each week. 

Sally

A lifelong California resident, Sally grew up in the Berkeley area but always longed to live in the country. That desire was satisfied 20 years ago when she moved to O’Neals. She has two horses and a cat. She joined Fresno Wildlife in 2016 and raised a deer, Dandy, until she was able to be released deep in the Oakhurst foothills. Dandy was with Sally for a year. She also supported the group by helping with some birds and a beaver. Due to the distance, it became less convenient to go to Fresno and Clovis for activities, so The Nature of Wildworks appeared at just the right time to allow transition from one organization to another. She also will be volunteering at the Ahwahnee SPCA when it opens to help out with the dogs and cats while they wait to find their forever homes. She likes to keep busy!

Kevin

My love for nature, be it on the coast or in the mountains has always been a force that I feel connected to.  The beauty of nature gives me peace and contentment and an acknowledgment that while on this earth, we should strive to protect it.  Moving to Coarsegold 26 years ago has been a great experience. Our children participated in 4H and FFA, thus we raised pigs, sheep and turkeys on the property. We also raised three emus that had needed homes.  Those projects have long been gone, but not the wildlife that we are blessed with living here that we see daily.  I retired in 2020 and always remained busy and in 2023, I discovered The Nature of Wildworks.  I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer there.  Since my arrival at Wildworks, I have been involved in relocating enclosures, building new enclosures and building climbing structures for the animals housed there.  I love the fact that Wildworks does not settle for the minimum size of enclosure, but provides a much more extensive enclosure. It gives me great joy in seeing these animals that cannot be returned to the wild, thrive in their forever home. 

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Audrey

Hello. My name is Audrey Johnson and I have lived with my dog and cat in Coarsegold for the last 4 years.  Before that I had a ranch on the coast with my husband and son. We had dogs, cats, fish, birds, chickens, rabbits, and even a peahen. As you can guess, I love all animals. Many years ago I worked for a wildlife education and rehab center. I loved it! I had to quit when I hurt by back so I was very excited when The Nature of Wildworks moved to Coarsegold a couple years ago. The people here are great and all love animals as much as I do. Can you tell what one of my favorite animals is? This is Jake and he likes to hang out in my hair while I clean his and his friends enclosures.

Lin

Lin is a native of Southern California and grew up in the San Fernando Valley, when there were still orange groves on the next block. She has always loved all animals. Her  childhood pets included a dog, a duck, and two chickens. Later on cats were added to  her family. She actually started learning about and working with exotic and native wildlife as a Docent at the Los Angeles Zoo in 1997. Two years later she became a volunteer at a large wildlife sanctuary where she became proficient at pulling poop and changing water for many large cats. She also learned about enrichment and animal handling there. After 10 years at that location, she discovered that the Nature of Wildworks had a volunteer program. In February of 2010 she came for an orientation  and never left. When she retired from the working world in May of 2010, she began spending more and more time with the animals cleaning cages, providing enrichment and handling animals at outreach programs. Even though she came on the wildlife scene late in life, she is happy for the opportunity to share information about wildlife and the Wildworks residents with the people at programs. And lucky her, Wildworks moved close by to where she currently lives, so she can continue on being a Wildworks volunteer!

Catherine

Catherine came to us in 2019 as a student of the Exotic Animal Training and Management program at Moorpark College. Every year their students do week long projects at facilities of their choosing. She chose us! Our animals here quickly grabbed her heart and she continued on volunteering after she graduated the program. She is currently working on her Registered Veterinary Technician certification to follow her passion to be a veterinary technician for exotic animals. From her passion for big cats to birds of prey, the animals here like Cliff the mountain lion and Henry the Turkey Vulture have shown her her patience truly pays off. Although we moved four hours away, Catherine still makes the time to drive out to us and volunteer for a few days. That's dedication!

Garrett

Growing up I always loved animals and the great outdoors. It all started as a young kid walking around Lake Casitas with my mom looking at all the native wildlife. This love grew when I joined the Boyscouts where I went on countless backpacking trips and eventually climbed the ranks to Eagle Scout. However I never really thought of pursuing a career in the animal industry or in conservation. After high school I started attending the local community college on track to get a major in computer science. I very quickly realized that was not the path for me. I became very unhappy and slowly started failing or dropping out of most of my classes, but then I discovered Zoo to You.

I went to the next volunteer orientation and very quickly fell in love with all of their wonderful animals. I started volunteering all the time, attending every event possible and helping with every project. It didn't take long until I became a full time keeper and spent all my time at their facility. After spending a lot of time with all of their different animals, I started to become particularly interested in birds of prey and started the process of getting my falconry license. I am now a full time falconer and work seagull abatement jobs with my Harris Hawk, Speck.

As falconry started taking up more of my time, I stepped back from being a full time keeper at Zoo to You and started volunteering when I could again. The Nature of Wildworks came to Zoo to You while I was still volunteering. Just like with the animals at Zoo to You, I immediately fell in love with all of their animals as well. I started also devoting time to Wildworks and helped them build their temporary facilities in Coarsegold and helped them move all of the animals. I still volunteer with Wildworks from time to time when I can.

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