2022 Year in Review: Kelsey Pleasants, Wildlife Rehabilitation Supervisor

It’s time to look back on 2022! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2022 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

This month, I am closing a chapter of my life that I never thought I’d close. I’m hopeful that this is a temporary goodbye and not a forever one – but you never know what life holds.

I’m leaving the Wildlife Center of Virginia, and the field of wildlife rehabilitation in mid-December. I’ve been working in rehabilitation for the past ten years, and it’s an emotionally, mentally, and physically demanding field, and time to give myself a much-needed break.

Wildlife, and the field of wildlife rehabilitation, has captured my passion since May 2012. I instantly fell in love with this field and this work, and couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. Just the thought of moving to a different field would fill me with anxiety, and if you asked me what I’d do if I wasn’t working with wildlife, I couldn’t even begin to answer you. I’ve always focused my career on what fills my heart and my passion, but I’ve reached a point in my life where I need to focus on the needs of my mental and physical health instead.

I’ve almost considered my identity as that person who works with wildlife, especially that person who works with wildlife at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. The WCV was where I discovered this field and where I felt at home. I immediately immersed myself in the Center when I became a rehabilitation extern in 2012 and was thrilled to become the year-long intern in 2013. Unfortunately, when that internship ended, there was no staff position available at the Center, so I took what I call “my hiatus in Florida” until a position did open back up. In 2017, I couldn’t have been more excited to rejoin the team at WCV. Five years later, it’s time to make a change.

I’ve had the opportunity to do incredible things while at WCV. I’ve helped thousands of animals be rehabilitated and released back into the wild, bottle-fed bear cubs, gave a second chance to a loon who needed a feather implanting procedure (known as imping), raised adorable baby opossums, and more. I’ve trained countless students on the procedures and field of rehabilitation and watched as they grew, built their confidence, and discovered the wonder and excitement of working with wildlife. I’ve gotten to expand my knowledge on these incredible species we work with and share my knowledge with others through conferences and liaisons. I’ve gotten to learn about myself; how to be a better employee, supervisor, colleague, and friend.

I’ve always been terrified to find out what life holds outside of working with wildlife, but that time has come, and while it still is scary, it’s exciting too. I’m learning new skills and learning what I enjoy doing “behind the scenes” of an organization. I’m trying something new in life and focusing on me for a change – something that feels foreign but necessary and healthy.

I can’t fully put into words what the Wildlife Center of Virginia has meant to me. How thankful I am for this organization, and just how being in this field has fulfilled and empowered me. I’ve met incredible people who have mentored and fostered me to where I am now and I am so thankful for them, too. For the past year I’ve been lucky to be a part of an incredible rehabilitation team with women who are strong, intelligent, passionate, and driven. As sad as I am to leave, I know I am leaving the rehabilitation team at WCV in amazing hands of rehabilitators who will leave a big impact in this field. I’m proud of them, and I’m proud of having been a part of WCV for the last decade.

I hope to make my way back into the field of wildlife eventually, and I’m excited for that day to come. Until then, I’ll cherish the memories and the impact this field has left on me. It’s a unique job I’ve been able to hold, and I don’t take that for granted. It has truly been an honor to serve wildlife.

— Kelsey Pleasants, Wildlife Rehabilitation Supervisor

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