2023 Year in Review: Connor Gillespie, Outreach Supervisor

It’s time to look back on 2023! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2023 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Okay, I’m going to bend the rules just a little bit, because the memory that stands out for me technically started last year but continued well into 2023 and ended with a special program.

In May 2022, I discovered that my neighborhood had purchased a Caring for Critter sponsorship of Marigold the Virginia Opossum and ran a story about her in the local newspaper. The article, titled "Meet Lake Monticello’s Opossum, Marigold!," was a full-page spread of her story. After reading it several times, I took a photo and shared it with some of my coworkers. Like me, they were all thrilled!

Months later, I had almost forgotten about Marigold’s newspaper story when another headline in the paper caught my attention, "Marigold the Opossum is Doing Well!" The newspaper had run another, shorter version of Marigold’s story for anyone who didn’t catch the first one. At this point, Marigold was almost three years old. But, as the title so aptly pointed out, even in her old age she was still doing well.

Fast forward to 2023. I finally had a chance to speak with the Lake Monticello Wildlife Committee, a group of wonderful people who were behind Marigold’s newspaper appearances. The group asked if Marigold, along with other ambassadors, could visit the neighborhood for a meet-and-greet program. I said yes, and after landing on a date, they posted one final newspaper headline about Marigold, "You’ve seen her picture in the Fluvanna Review. Now come meet her and two of her friends!"

The program was on May 27, 2023. Like all other programs, Marigold shined. She has an uncanny ability to connect with people. And she’ll continue to connect with people, because the Lake Monticello Wildlife Committee had one final surprise. They showed me to a room in the clubhouse where they had framed and hung up Marigold’s sponsorship so anyone coming through could learn about her story. It was the perfect conclusion to Marigold’s year-long saga.

Marigold passed away earlier this week. At her advanced age, she had developed health issues and we made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize her. When I look back on this year, I’ll remember how fun it was to read her unexpected stories in the paper, and how much I enjoyed introducing everyone to our friendly neighborhood opossum.

– Connor Gillespie, Outreach Supervisor 

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