Special Project Supports the Center

This winter, the Wildlife Center of Virginia has had some extra help in caring for its record-breaking number of patients thanks to 5th-grade students at Augusta County Public Schools (ACPS) and the Community Foundation of Central Blue Ridge (CFCBR).

In addition to their regular curricula during 2023, ACPS students spent time exploring the idea of citizenship and collaboration through service to others. To help facilitate this learning experience, CFCBR generously provided each ACPS 5th-grade classroom with a $100 “grant” – it was up to the students themselves to research non-profits in the area and vote for which organization they thought should receive this funding.

Courtesy of Augusta County’s 5th Grade Youth Philanthropy Council
in partnership with the Community Foundation of Central Blue Ridge

For some classrooms, that research included field trips to the Center. During their visits, students learned about how the Center’s mission and role as a non-profit hospital for wildlife impacts their community, and ways to help. After their field trip, one classroom from Craigsville Elementary sprang into action! During early December, they completed an additional service project by collecting locally foraged walnuts and acorns that were donated to the Center. Donations of hard mast like these have recently been fed to hungry patients overwintering at our hospital – including the five growing Black Bear yearlings of 2023.

Photos courtesy of Zach Hedrick, Craigsville Elementary School

Back on their school’s campuses, students individually voted to decide which non-profit should receive their classroom’s $100 donations. Out of the 33 ACPS classrooms that participated in this project, a total of 20 chose the Wildlife Center of Virginia! Additionally, as the organization that received the highest number of classrooms’ votes, the Wildlife Center of Virginia was selected to receive a staggering $2,000 donation from the CFCBR!

During January 2024, Outreach Public Affairs Manager Alex Wehrung was featured as a guest on an episode of ACPS’s podcast, Connecting with Augusta County Schools where the results of students’ projects and voting were shared. When asked how students’ support and contributions have helped the Wildlife Center, Wehrung replied:

“It means everything to us to have the support of our community, on whatever scale that might be – locally, regionally, or nation-wide. Caring for wildlife really does take a village and everyone has a part to play. The concept of citizenship (a core principle featured throughout students’ learning objectives during this project) is such a great way to summarize how we can all help to take care of wildlife and the environment.”

The Wildlife Center of Virginia is incredibly grateful to the students and faculty at ACPS and the staff at CFCBR who made this project possible. Their thoughtfulness and proactive approach to helping wildlife is proof that citizenship and collaboration through service to others take many forms – a lesson that all of us can learn and share!

Listen to Connecting with Augusta County Schools, S5E4: “We Take Care of Each Other!” podcast on YouTube, or by clicking the video below.

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