Groundbreaking Ceremony for Nature Education and Wildlife Rehabilitation

The representatives of the Nature Education and Wildlife Rehabilitation during the Groundbreaking Ceremony. (Sydney Morgan)

The Nature Education and Wildlife Rehabilitation Center had their Groundbreaking Ceremony last Wednesday, Sept. 3 at 10 a.m. 

The location of the new building for the center is located across from Miss Winkles Pet Adoption Center on 101 Temperance Ave. 

Founder and Executive Director, Cathy Garner, has been waiting patiently and eagerly for this day to arrive. 

“I had been an active volunteer at the Zoo, [but] the Zoo and the Discovery Center decided not to intake any animals from the public for fear of disease and a lot of babies were being euthanized,” said Garner. 

That’s when she decided that she wanted to do something to prevent the loss of such creatures. 

In 1974, with her four year old daughter as her first volunteer and Friendly the Dove as her first rescue animal, she started this organization.

“We take in orphaned and injured native wildlife and return them back to the wild when possible,” said Garner. 

Wildlife found in the rehabilitation center comes from the native animals in Clovis that come through law enforcement, schools, or veterinarian offices.  

“It [the rehabilitation center] does two things: it gives the rescue community a location to bring animals that need to be nurtured back to health so they don’t die, and it also has an educational component,” said Drew Bessinger, an elected council member of Clovis since 2017. 

With the announcement of the organization finally being able to build a center in which they can house the animals they rescue, such as owls, eagles, skunks, possums, snakes, foxes, and even cougars among many other wild animals, the ability to show them to the public also becomes easier.

“Everything now is done out of our homes, so this rehab will allow schools and organizations to bring kids here to see what we do,” said Ruth Charnin, who has been volunteering for the Nature Education and Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for a little over 15 years. 

A large amount of the animals that are being cared for by the organization go unknown by the community due to a large belief that the Clovis area is considered urban. 

“Some people are under the impression that we live in an urban area, but we butt up to wooded and farmland, and animals are out there,” said Bessinger. 

The rehabilitation relies on public support year-round, many of which attended the event for the groundbreaking ceremony. 

“They’re amazing, none of this could have happened without them,” said Garner, “I’m forever grateful.”

With this new building, they are looking for more volunteers to help manage the grounds, animals, and be able to educate young audiences on the native wildlife found there.

“Seems like people aren’t coming and volunteering for the community like they used to,” said Jennifer Brower, who has been a volunteer for Nature Education and Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for over 25 years. 

They are also planning an event where kids and families can come see the animals the volunteers have been taking care of from home.

“This is a great place for people, if they are going to go into education, or any field like biology or zoology, to pick up skills and use those things in the classroom, or in their field of study,” said Garner. “They’ll be able to get hands-on work that they couldn’t get elsewhere.”

For more information on volunteering, upcoming events, or interest in donating, you can reach the Nature Education and Wildlife Rehabilitation Center by email 

”It’s one thing to talk about an animal, read about it, watch it, but it’s something else when you get to hold it in your hand,” said Garner. 

The official Nature Education and Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is estimated to be completed this time next year, after 20 years of saving and planning by volunteers and donations from the people of Clovis and Fresno.

“I hope the whole community can take pride in it, I would love to see it full of younger and older people” said Garner, “come in like an ant farm; just get in there and get busy.”

Sydney Morgan, currently a junior at Fresno State University, grew up in the sleepy town of Templeton, CA. With Lester Holt and Carrie Bradshaw as her journalist role models, she considers herself to have a more creative approach to her news and entertainment stories.