Edward Clark, Jr.

President Emeritus & Founder

Ed Clark PortraitSince the late 1970s, Ed Clark has been a national leader in the field of conservation. His involvement has ranged from wilderness designation and public land management to pesticide regulation and endangered species protection. Raised in Flint Hill, Virginia, Ed received a B.A. in history and political science from Bridgewater College. He did graduate work in education at James Madison University and University of Virginia. His professional training includes environmental mediation, organization management, and strategic planning.

In 1979, Ed became the first executive director of the Conservation Council of Virginia Foundation, the environmental advocacy and education organization known today as the Virginia Conservation Network. In 1980, he co-founded and became assistant director of the Environmental Task Force in Washington, DC, a national grassroots support network. In 1982, he returned to the Shenandoah Valley and began his work as a leadership trainer and organizational consultant for national conservation and non-profit groups, including Trout Unlimited, the Sierra Club, Habitat for Humanity, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society International, the Appalachian Trail Conference, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and many others. In November of 1982, Ed co-founded The Wildlife Center of Virginia.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia was established in a horse barn near Waynesboro, Virginia but moved to a new facility in Weyers Cave, Virginia in 1985. The organization quickly gained a national reputation for its veterinary care of wildlife, professional training, public education programming, and conservation advocacy. In 1995, the Wildlife Center moved to a new, state-of-the-art hospital facility in Waynesboro, Virginia, from which it operates today. The Wildlife Center of Virginia is considered one of the world’s leading teaching are research hospitals for wildlife and conservation medicine.

From 2006 to 2008, under Ed’s leadership, the Wildlife Center successfully undertook a project, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Defense, to create a working model of a North American Wildlife Disease Surveillance Network and Database, originally known as Project Tripwire. This database was fully deployed in 2012. The system, known today as WILD-ONe, is currently in use across the U.S., Canada, and several other countries, and tracks the health information on hundreds of thousands of wild animals being treated in more than 100 participating wildlife care facilities.

In 2010, Ed was part of an interdisciplinary team of experts asked to visit the states impacted by the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico and conduct an assessment of the potential damage, the adequacy of the government’s response, and the implications for future public policy. Following visits to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, Ed published extensive reports on his findings, along with recommendations for strengthening a generally ineffective response effort.

Throughout his career, Ed has been active in public service. He has been appointed by three Virginia Governors to various boards and commissions, including the Virginia Council on the Environment (the state environmental policy board), the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (one of the nation’s largest government land trusts), the Virginia Environmental Education Commission, and the Governor’s Commission on Natural Resource Funding.

From 2016 to 2019, Ed served on the federal Invasive Species Advisory Committee, a group of non-governmental experts advising 16 federal agencies, departments, and bureaus, on policies related to the invasive plants, animals, insects and pathogens affecting the United States. During his tenure, Ed chaired working groups that produced reports including:

  • The Interface Between Invasive Species and the Increased Incidences of Tick-Borne Diseases, and the Implications for Federal Land Managers | May 2019
  • Reducing the Risk of Invasive Pathogens to Wildlife Health in the United States | March 2018
  • Managed Relocation: Reducing the Risk of Biological Invasion | December 2017

Ed has also served on boards and advisory councils of more than twenty regional, national, and international conservation organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation (Eastern Vice Chair), International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (President), Philippe Cousteau Foundation (Founding Secretary), and Southern Environmental Law Center (President’s Council). He is currently a member of the board of directors of Fundacion Ecolombia, a wildlife conservation organization based in Medellin, Colombia.

The Wildlife Center has received many honors under Ed’s leadership. In 1993, the Center received the National Environmental Achievement Award for Wildlife Conservation. In 2004 the Computerworld Honors Program and the Smithsonian Institution presented the Center with its 21st-Century Achievement Award, for the "best information technology application in the world, in the category of Environment, Energy, and Agriculture." In November 2007, the Wildlife Center received the National Wildlife Federation’s highly prestigious Conservation Achievement Award and was named the Wildlife Conservation Organization of the Year for the entire United States.

Ed has received many individual honors as well. In 1987, the Virginia Wildlife Federation named him Conservation Educator of the Year. In 1992 the U.S. Committee for the UN Environment Programme named him one of the "500 Environmental Achievers". He received the 1993 Conservation Medal from the Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1997, he received the prestigious "Chuck Yeager Award" from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for his conservation work "on the ground". In 2000 he received commendation from the Venezuelan Ministry of Education for his work promoting environmental education in rural communities. In 2001, he received recognition from the Venezuelan Guardia Nacional and the Ministry of Defense for his work combating the illegal trafficking of neotropical wildlife. In 2006 Bridgewater College named Ed its Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, and the Virginia Conservation Network recognized Ed for his lifetime achievements and outstanding contributions to conservation and environmental protection. In 2012, Ed received national recognition with the prestigious "Rare Life" award from Eagle Rare, given to an individual who leads a rare life of courage, leadership, survival, devotion, character, and heroism.

Ed is a well-known and widely recognized television personality. From 2019-2022, he was the host of UNTAMED, the Wildlife Center’s television series that aired on PBS affiliates nationwide. Previously, Ed was the host of two award-winning series, Wildlife Emergency, which aired worldwide on Animal Planet, and Virginia Outdoors on Virginia Public Television. Ed has appeared in several films and documentaries and has been a frequent guest on network television programs such as CNN’s Larry King Live, NBC’s TODAY, FOX News, CBS Saturday Morning, and C-SPAN’s Washington Journal.

Ed is in great demand as a motivational speaker, organizational consultant, and trainer. His conservation work takes him across the United States and to many foreign countries each year. When he is not on the road (and often when he is) Ed enjoys his passion for wildlife photography, shooting, and horseback riding.

At the end of March 2024, Ed retired from his role as President of the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Ed and his wife, Dr. Kim West Clark, divide their time between their homes in Waynesboro and Troy, Virginia, with their dogs, and horses.