Schuylkill Cen­ter’s Wildlife Clinic wel­comes new di­rec­tor as it read­ies to re­open.

The Review - - FRONT PAGE - Mike Weil­bacher Columnist Mike Weil­bacher di­rects the Schuylkill Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­men­tal Ed­u­ca­tion in Up­per Roxborough, tweets @ SCEEMike and can be reached at mike@schuylkill­cen­ter.org.

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO — SCHUYLKILL CEN­TER

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.

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