There’s a new building project going on at Lees-McRae – the first brand-new construction on the campus in six years, in fact!
But it’s tucked away from the activity of main campus, nestled at the foot of Hemlock Hill next to the beautiful Elk River, so many visitors to Lees-McRae College may not yet be aware of it.
Students at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute are very aware of it, though: it’s the new home for the college’s wildlife rehabilitation program, an institution that cares for more than 1,200 injured and orphaned wild animals every year.
This blog post isn’t going to have a whole lot of pictures; most of my posts have plenty of animal photos, but a muddy construction site isn’t what I call prime photography. Instead, I want to tell you what’s getting me excited about the new wildlife center, and how you can be involved too!
I’ve been a part of BRWI for four years now. In my freshman year, we received about 700 animals. In 2011, we took in 1,171. And I can tell you first-hand that the rehab center was squished. All our room was taken up by cages of animal patients, both inside and out, leaving woefully little space for storage. And that means clutter, which makes it harder to clean and keep presentable. We also had to use rooms for multiple purposes – like having a bathtub in the raptor room, and our poor turtles housed wherever there was space. I’m not gonna lie: being a wildlife rehabilitator is already difficult, and the building size and layout was definitely not helping.
That all changed a few short months ago when we got word that a donation had been made to LMC that would allow the construction of a brand-new building. In the new wildlife center, we’ll have the same core as before: a classroom, an office, a kitchen, and rooms for songbirds, mammals, and birds of prey. But that’s where the similarity ends. BRWI’s new digs feature:
- A bird-of-prey room more than twice the size of the current raptor room
- A separate cleaning room, with a brand-new bathtub and double stacked washers and dryers
- An outside wash area for big cleaning jobs, with hot and cold water
- A public/classroom area with modern equipment for public education and wildlife rehab classes
- A staff room for us to take breaks without disturbing the wildlife
- An examination room for new patients, connected to a soundproof intensive-care room for critically injured animals
- A room exclusively for the care of injured reptiles such as turtles
- A large attic for storage of small and seasonal equipment, and a separate outside storage shed for big cages…
…and more, there’s just too much to list. And with expected completion in April, it’s all approaching fast!
We’re going to be able to teach wildlife rehab students and members of the public much more effectively, and take better care of our ever-growing number of patients. But we still need help, and there are ways that YOU can make a difference at BRWI. Here’s how you can be involved.
- We are in need of items, large and small, for the new building. Cabinets, shelving, and storage solutions are all on our wish-list, as many other items. Contact BRWI for more information about donating either funds or equipment from our wish list!
- Are you a hard worker? When moving time comes, we’re going to need strong arms to make the transition. Stay tuned to the Bobcat Blog in the next few months for move-in dates.
- Do you have a knack for organizing? You can volunteer your time to help us pack! Keep reading the blog for updates or contact BRWI about coming in to help!
You can find contact information for the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute by following the link on the Lees-McRae College home page. We welcome your help and I hope you’re as excited about about our brand-new home as I am!