2020 Year In Review: Alex Wehrung, Outreach Coordinator

It’s time to look back on 2020! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2020 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Year In Review memories are always a treat to read as a staff member, but they’re especially interesting this year. Normally, it’s somewhat easy to know what’s going on with your coworkers at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. We share a break room, many of us from different departments work on big projects together, and simply being in the Center itself promotes togetherness thanks to an open floor plan – there’s not a cubicle in sight. This year, things are different!

Those of us who were able to begin working from home did so around mid-March. Thanks to (mostly) high-speed internet, (somewhat) reliable instant messaging services, and (lots of) coffee, we’ve been able to bridge the physical gap between us and carry on as normally as we could. Still, I’ve missed interacting with my coworkers each day during the “in-between” moments. Chatting while waiting for my lunch to microwave, checking my mailbox in the main hallway, walking through the hospital on the way to the ambassador enclosures – all of those moments gave me an opportunity to check-in and catch up, and 2020 has changed that.

Reading through all of the Year In Review posts so far though, I’ve noticed a trend; sure, life is wacky and crazy right now, but some things haven’t changed. Our staff are still attending and participating in conferences across the country. Newer staff members are still being amazed at the quality of work they find themselves a part of. Special patients make lasting impressions on those that cared for them. Our donors, supporters, and friends reach out to us and make us feel like our work matters. Those are all elements of a Year In Review you’d read in any year, not just 2020.

The same goes for my own memories. Even though we in the outreach department are working mostly from home, we each spend a few hours per day on-site working with the education ambassadors. The relationships we build and maintain with these amazing animals is so important to all of us, and during the chaos of 2020, being able to spend time with them meant so much more.

Even though I’m missing the “in-between” moments with my human coworkers, the “in-between” moments I have with my animal coworkers are still there. Admiring a flash of color from Verlon the American Kestrel’s feathers, watching an opossum’s whiskers wiggle with each sniff in search of a treat, or hearing Buddy the Bald Eagle cry out in excitement when he sees me walking up to his enclosure – these little moments fill me with happiness. They also remind me that despite all the challenges 2020 presented us with, when you’re a part of the Wildlife Center family, the good memories tend to rise to the top.

Happy New Year!

— Alex Wehrung, Outreach Coordinator 

Check out all of our year-in-review posts!