Wildlife Rehabber of the Year
A Wildlife Rehabber who has made a difference to Wildlife Recue in Ontario
2023 - Jenn Salo. First a Foster Parent than becoming a Wildlife Rehabber in 2022. With a vision and determination that has impressed both other Rehabbers and the MNRF. Her and her team at Thunderbirds Wildlife Rescue are turning an old wildlife zoo in Thunder Bay into a Wildlife Rehabbing Center. Doing her homework and not being afraid to ask questions and even taking a tour of other Rehabber Centers half way across the province. Despite an endless stream of bureaucracy and government meddling she just keeps going. Thunderbirds is caring the hopes of the entire North West Region and potentially building one the largest Wildlife Rescue Center in Northern Ontario and possibly in the province.
2022 - Gail Lenters. Gail is one of the quiet giants in the Wildlife Rehabbing community. Starting Shades of Hope in 2012 Gail and her team has built the center into the largest in the province by number of animals handled. With the exception of raccoons, Shades of Hope can take in just about any injured or orphaned wild animal in Ontario. When everyone else is full Gail and her team somehow finds a way of not turning wildlife away. She has also been very generous about sharing resources with other Wildlife Rehabbers. For Gail it has always been about the animals.
2021 - Debra Spilar. A Wildlife Rehabbers since 2011, Debra and her team have built Procyon Wildlife into one of the major centers in Ontario. Assembling an army of volunteers and perfecting the science of finding and keeping dedicated volunteers. Procyon has created one of the largest networks of foster care people in Ontario. Debra has been more than generous in supporting other Rehabbers especially new ones. She has been a supporter and a defender of Wildlife Rehabbing in Ontario.
2019 - Dr. Sherri Cox. A Wildlife Rehabber since 2013 and founder of the National Wildlife Center. It is the work she has done as a wildlife veterinarian that has been so amazing. As an advisor to the Ministry of Natural Resources, she overhauled the study guide manual and updated the exam. She has done more operations on more injured wild animals for more Wildlife Rehabbers than anyone in the province. She teaches the only courses for prospective Rehabbers in Ontario and has been an unwavering advocate and supporter for Wildlife Rehabbers.
2018 - Carol Ricciuto of Open Sky Raptor Foundation has been looking after Birds of Prey, Water Birds and Songbirds since 1996. Operating out of Grimsby she has been the go-to person for Birds of Prey. She has been one of the key bird people on the Niagara Escarpment taking birds from Toronto to the American border. She has contended with more bureaucratic problems than most Wildlife Rehabbers. Carol has been more than willing to help other Wildlife Rehabbers using her long history of experience. She is also the author of What Is a Wildlife Rehabilitator Anyway?, a must read for new Wildlife Rehabbers.
2017- Laurel Beechy has been a Wildlife Rehabber since 1998. Known as the Skunk Lady, she happily shares skunk information and experience on skunks individually and has given seminars in Canada and the U.S.A. Laurel keeps the wildlife community connected with what is going on as an unofficial communications provider with WILDMAIL an email network, connecting with Wildlife Rehabbers, foster parents, wildlife veterinarians and volunteers. She has a wild sense of humor and share some hilarious videos with everyone. She helps new Rehabbers through the approval process and gives or finds support, for others whenever needed.
Wildlife Hero Award
Awarded to Non-Wildlife Rehabber who has gone above and beyond and made a difference to Wildlife Rehabbing in Ontario.
2022 - Adam Bloskie originally was Policy Advisor to the Minister of Natural Resources in 2018 and has been a steadfast supporter and advocate for Wildlife Rehabbers ever since. From his very first meeting with Rehabbers, Adam has been able to cut through the bureaucracy and get things done. Without Adam there would be fewer Wildlife Rehabbers in the province. Adam was the first person from the Ministers Office to ever attend the Annual meeting when he led the MNRF delegation. Even when he was in the Premier’s Office, he did what he could to helped Wildlife Rehabbers. When he came back to the Minister’s Office, he got the Minister to talk at the Annual Meeting another first. He is a strong believer in Wildlife Rehabbers and what they do.
2021 - Monique Rolf von den Baumen-Clark (we just call her Monique) in 2017 was the first senior MNR person to ever attend a meeting of Wildlife Rehabbers in Ontario at our Annual meeting in Brampton. At the time relations between the MNR and Wildlife Rehabbers were at an all-time low. Monique started communications by listened to more than three hours of complaints, grievances and problems Wildlife Rehabbers had with the MNR. She helped put together a list of problems between the MNR and Wildlife Rehabbers that could be work on. That list became known as the Priority MNR List (Wildlife Rehabbers). It has been worked on since and items such as the right of appeal have come into existents. Her coming to the 2017 meeting started a tradition of senior MNR staff attending the Annual meeting. At one time, Monique worked in the field in Algonquin Park and got to know Audrey Tourneau of Aspen Valley and has been a supporter of Wildlife Rehabbers ever since. Monique is now Deputy Minister of the MNRF (2023).
AUDREY TOURNAY MEMORIAL FUND
The fund has been established to help new wildlife rescue centres start up. Donations are used for initial training and expenses in their first year. Renowned Muskoka Wildlife Advocate and founder of Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Rosseau, Ontario, Audrey Irene Tournay dedicated herself to wildlife rehabilitation full time. For her contributions to wildlife rehabilitation and education, Audrey received the Animal Action Award from the International Fund of Animal Welfare and also the Paul Harris Fellowship Award from the Rotary Club of Parry Sound. She left behind a tremendous legacy in the countless thousands of orphaned and injured wildlife that were given a second chance through her kindness and dedication.