A note from Kim Banach, WINC Executive Director
Celebrating 25 years of saving wild lives and wildlife education
We remain both humbled and excited to celebrate our organization’s 25th anniversary in 2019! The Wildlife In Need Center (WINC) sprouted as an idea in June 1993, and officially opened its doors on January 1, 1994, treating 837 animals in its maiden year. During these first two years, WINC operated from a tiny one-bedroom house in Waukesha and then, in the fall of 1995, moved to a farmhouse with five acres of land. Today WINC treats over 3,000 wild patients each year at its custom built and expanded facilities in Oconomowoc.
From these modest beginnings, and due to the passion and commitment of a caring team, frequent obstacles were surpassed throughout the years in order to offer sustainable wildlife rehabilitation and wildlife education. In the early years there were many key initiatives, including building out a board of directors, recruiting staff and volunteers, training volunteers, finding a bigger “home,” and transforming this home into a wildlife rehabilitation facility. Contributing to our early success were all the grassroots fundraising efforts, including memberships, which took place before the internet and modern technology made it possible to reach a wider audience with the click of a button. Our opening checking account balance in June 1993 was $30.00; by the end of the year, passionate fundraising efforts had raised $7,233.00.
I find it absolutely heartwarming that some of the original individuals associated with WINC remain involved. Lisa Rowe, our Director of Operations, was initially a volunteer and then became a staff member in 2000. Dr. Tom Roberts and Wayne Grandy both have been board members most of the past 25 years. We even have a few volunteers that have been around for the past 24 years: Jeannie Merz, Mary Roberts and Rose Knapp.
Throughout those early years it was rare to take a wild patient to a veterinarian, as it was difficult to find a veterinarian with experience in treating wildlife and surgeries were performed infrequently. But passionate veterinarians always wanted to help. So just as the field of wildlife rehabilitation has grown so has medical expertise, and today the veterinarians who treat our wild patients are all experts who can perform complex surgeries and consult on difficult cases. WINC now also has a digital x-ray machine on-site, and with it we are able to provide a quicker patient diagnosis and treatment plan.
Our staff and office volunteers receive calls from across the USA in search of guidance, resources or care facilities. Our website gets “hits” from all over the world, reconfirming the passion people have for wildlife. Animal welfare has come a long way, and today it is more of the norm that people want a resource to help injured, orphaned or sick wildlife. WINC stands ready.
WINC wildlife education started in 1993, commencing with training volunteers and educating veterinarians, humane societies, schools, pet stores, and the general public about WINC’s mission and the best way to live with our wild neighbors. Lisa Rowe shared that some people would say, “Are you crazy?” or “You are doing what?!” Now thousands of citizens of all ages attend our wildlife education programs and leave with the knowledge of what to do (or what not to do) when encountering wildlife in their natural habitats, and how we can respect our wild neighbors.
WINC now receives over 10,000 phone calls each year, and we are often consulting people about wildlife emergencies, how to re-nest an orphan they may have found, offering tips for how to encourage a family of skunks to move out from under one’s porch, or how to bring an injured animal to the facility.
The passion for our wild neighbors is evident in all ages as the demand for both wildlife education and wildlife rehabilitation grows each year. For those of you who have helped wildlife, whether as a volunteer, staff, donor, foundation, board member or rescued the animal in need, YOU are the reason we are celebrating this generational milestone. With our deepest sincerity, we cannot thank you all enough for your past partnership and future support of our mission as we embark upon the next 25 years.
You have made a difference and You continue to make a difference!
As we approach our 25th anniversary in 2019, we are asking for your consideration in offering a celebratory donation to our amazing organization. Our fundraising milestone is to raise $25,000 by the end of 2019. All donations of $250.00 or more, will be recognized on our 25th Anniversary donor’s wall of fame.