Schuylkill Center’s Wildlife Clinic welcomes new director as it readies to reopen.
On the first Friday in July, Rebecca Michelin, a native Nova Scotian, was at the Canadian border with a letter from the Schuylkill Center asking Customs officials to allow her to cross the border into America to work for us. After a 90-minute conversation — and a phone call to me — Customs allowed her into America …
... and her adventure as the new director of the Schuylkill Center’s Wildlife Clinic began.
Now in the job for two months, Rebecca has been a whirlwind of activity: reorganizing the building, recruiting volunteers, hiring staff, observing our programs and arranging for her state and federal permits to rehabilitate wild animals.
Located deep down Port Royal Avenue, the Wildlife Clinic has been healing wounded, sick and orphaned animals for 30 years, releasing the majority back into the wild. Since its 1987 founding, the clinic has worked on 90,000 animals of some 150 species. In January, after releasing our former director, the clinic had been shuttered awaiting an international search that happily led us to Rebecca.
She brings a decade of experience from three different wildlife clinics in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Texas.
Armed with a degree in marine biology — “I had wanted to be a marine biologist since I was a little girl” — Rebecca first worked as a fisheries observer on a crab boat, “and realized it was not what I thought.”
Searching for Plan B, she came across a notice for an internship at Hope for Wildlife, a rehab center not far from her home, and thought this could be interesting. She started her internship and was “hooked from the very first day. I worked for 60 hours straight for four weeks and knew that’s what I wanted to do. I always wanted to work with animals; I just thought it would be fish and sharks, not terrestrial wildlife.”
She has steadily climbed the leadership ladder in her profession and now serves as an instructor in basic rehabilitation for the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, flying around the country to help train her peers. (She’ll be visiting Kentucky for a training session in November.)
One of the reasons she loves wildlife rehabilitation is “there is so much variety, there are so many different animals and there is always something to learn.” Which is why her favorite animal tends to be “whichever one I am holding in my hand at that time.”
Rebecca was initially nervous about adjusting to city life in Philadelphia but is “happily pleased and surprised with how much green there is, especially at the Schuylkill Center.”
Rebecca hosted her first volunteer session at the clinic in August with a small group cleaning out several rooms to get them ready for reopening, and additional events are planned in the near future. She’s also been taking inventory of supplies, performing a much-needed deep cleaning and beginning the long-term project of reworking the building’s layout to better care for the animals. Rebecca is bringing the clinic into the 21st century, allowing for visitors to make electronic donations after dropping off animals, something we’ve not been able to do until now.
Running a wildlife clinic requires numerous volunteers feeding animals, cleaning cages, even helping answer the phones. If you would like to volunteer at the clinic in any one of these or other capacities, please visit the Schuylkill Center’s website at schuylkillcenter.org to sign up. Trainings are being organized for the growing volunteer corps, and Rebecca would be thrilled to include you.
As the Wildlife Clinic has been a core program of the Schuylkill Center for so long, all of us here are looking forward to reopening and hope you will join us in welcoming Rebecca Michelin to not only Roxborough but the United States.
Rebecca Michelin, the new director of wildlife rehabilitation for the Wildlife Clinic at the Schuylkill Center, inventories medicine and supplies in preparation for the clinic’s coming reopening.