June 18, 2013
Director of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute earns master’s degree

Lees-McRae College would like to congratulate Nina Fischesser, director of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute, on obtaining her M.A. in Environmental Education and Communication from Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia, CA. Fischesser will graduate on Wednesday, June 19.

Fischesser’s thesis, titled, “The Efficacy of Wildlife Rehabilitation in Higher Education: A Detailed Review of Lees-McRae College Wildlife Rehabilitation Concentration," focused on learning more about the efficiency of the wildlife center in terms of student learning.

The Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute opened its doors in 1995 with Fischesser leading the way. Since then, the institute has taken up residence in the new Daniel and Dianne May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and rehabilitates more than 1,000 animals annually including songbirds, raptors, waterfowl and small mammals. The wildlife institute is also intertwined with the Wildlife Rehabilitation concentration at Lees-McRae College.

“I almost didn’t want to do research on Lees-McRae,” said Fischesser. “I was a bit scared as to what I might find! However, a friend told me not the fear the answers because no matter what, it would make the program better.”

Despite her initial trepidation, Fischesser was pleasantly surprised by her findings, because they confirmed aspects of the program she already knew needed work or were already successful. She conducted a survey focused on students who were taking the very first wildlife rehabilitation class. The survey was completed prior to the opening of the new May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, and one of the most common criticisms of the program was the available resources and cages. In addition, the survey also confirmed that students enjoyed the critical thinking skills gained through the program and that they felt they were being adequately prepared for a career after graduation.

In addition to critical thinking skills and hands-on training, the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute also teaches students how to conduct educational programs using non-releasable wild animals and how to organize and facilitate workshops and seminars for the education of rehabilitators, veterinarians, and environmental educators.

For more information on the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute or to give a donation, please visit or call 828-898-2568. The center offers presentations on Thursdays and Saturdays at 1 p.m. or by reservation.

Media Contact:

Blaine Hansen  |  Vice President of Strategic Planning and Effectiveness
Tel: 828.898.8838  |  Email:
Nina Fischesser with one of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute's animal ambassadors, Cloudfeather.
The Daniel and Dianne May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.