As we gear up for the first ever Love for Lindsay Virtual Auction, hear from our event co-chairs and long-time Lindsay supporters Scott E. Smith and Heather Stead, interviewed by Development intern Briones Bedell. The Love for Lindsay Virtual Auction takes place on December 5, and tickets can be purchased here.
What is your background with Lindsay?
Scott: I grew up in Nebraska where 92 percent of the habitat is dedicated to ranching and farming, leaving virtually no wildlife. Nonetheless, I’ve always been fascinated by it. When I moved to California I was ecstatic to find it everywhere. After leaving the corporate world and starting my own business, I took the day off and went to Lindsay to volunteer. I started with a temporary PR job, then joined the hospital where I’ve worked two to three shifts and continue doing homecare for opossums and occasionally skunks. I’ve also been a member of the Gala Committee and now the Fundraising team. In 2015, I received the Jefferson Foundation Award for my role at Lindsay. That honor cemented my enthusiasm for Lindsay forever.
Heather: I was introduced to Lindsay by my father-in-law. He’s been a long time supporter of LWE and served on its Board of Directors for many years. After attending a gala as his guest, I was invited to join the gala committee that existed at that time. I served on that committee for years before joining the board of directors myself.
What do you think is the most important resource Lindsay provides to the community (is it environmental stewardship, wildlife rehab, a sense of community, etc.)?
For more than 60 years, Lindsay Wildlife Experience has provided an amazing portal to the natural world for children and adults by addressing the urgency of the present and the public consciousness for the future. Our renowned hospital cares for more than 5,500 animals every year and helps keep the local environment thriving when so much would send it hurtling in the opposite direction. Our award-winning educational programs for youth in preschool through high school, and adults, continue to provide our community with stewards who vote for and contribute to our natural resources.
Heather: The wildlife rehabilitation hospital and the fantastic educational programs that are offered are the most obvious resources that LWE provides our community.
What are you most excited about for the virtual auction?
Scott: Scoring some good deals on a great lineup of auction items. I welcome competition for a great cause so I encourage everyone to invite friends and family members, even Uncle John who lives in Duluth. In addition, the tickets are tax deductible.
Heather: I love our galas but the opportunity to support LWE while wearing my most comfortable, cozy clothing sounds delightful. I’m also really looking forward to seeing some behind-the-scenes footage from AE and the hospital. I hear that some of our favorite animal ambassadors will be doing never-before-seen training and enrichment!
Why should we support Lindsay at the Love for Lindsay Virtual Auction?
Scott: We’ve existed for more than 60 years only because we East Bay residents love our wildlife. We love seeing them crossing our open spaces and backyard fences. We love the job they do keeping our local ecosystem balanced. We’re grateful to have a place we can take injured and orphaned wildlife that we’ve found. That’s what Lindsay delivers. This is Lindsay’s last fundraising event of the year. So, it’s the last chance to help Lindsay continue its mission.
Heather: It’s so important for this event to be a success for two main reasons: fundraising and community engagement & morale. Our community deserves to come together safely and celebrate all our successes from the past year. We’re also very close to reaching our fundraising goal.
Which new initiative are you most excited about (“Inside Out” Programs, Online Programs, Hospital Initiative, Diversity Initiative,) and why?
Scott:It would be unfair to suggest any of these initiatives are less important. However, I’m most familiar with the hospital. So, with apologies, allow me to be biased toward the Hospital Initiative. Founded in 1970, the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital was the first wildlife hospital in the United States Today, it is still one of the largest and most effective wildlife hospitals in the country. Over the years, similar institutions throughout the country have adopted its protocols. Universities send veterinary students to work beside our staff. Our staff and volunteers regularly speak at conferences. To continue as that resource and meet the needs of our patients requires that Lindsay continue to keep pace with new methodologies and technologies, and stay current with the latest equipment. The initiative also will enable the hospital to seek to a greater understanding of wound treatment, prosthetics, diseases, geographic analysis of injuries and alternative medicines, such as laser therapy and acupuncture.
Heather: It’s hard to choose a favorite among our new programs and initiatives, but I think the Inside Out program is especially important right now. The opportunity to meet this moment and expand our classrooms outdoors, as well as the chance to see our wildlife ambassadors in a more natural setting is really exciting.
We talk a lot about giving to Lindsay, but what has Lindsay given you?
Scott: Well, beyond five cages continually full of opossums and a bathtub filled with skunks, it has given me the opportunity to be part of an organization that has a major impact on a part of our world that I’m passionate about preserving.
Heather: I have met some of the most amazing, generous, dedicated people during my time with LWE. It attracts a pretty special group of people.
Most importantly, who is your favorite animal ambassador?
Scott: Opossums rule! Poppy!
Heather: Another tough question! I could watch the ground squirrel for hours. But I’m more than a little obsessed with Cypress the Western Screech Owl.
An Important and Fulfilling Change
Years before I joined Lindsay Wildlife I was introduced to it at an outdoor/nature fair. I knew that I wanted to be a part of its mission. It took me until 1998 to make it happen. It is one of the most important and fulfilling changes I have made in my life. My involvement with Lindsay Wildlife, the animals, the amazing people I have met (many of whom have become dear friends), the opportunities, have all greatly enriched my life. I have been privileged to care for and work with incredible animals and help staff and other volunteers save wild lives and make the captive lives of our non-releasable education animals the best they can be under the circumstances. It doesn’t get any better than that.
I started in the wildlife hospital as an intern in 1999, then began working as a Museum Interpreter (now known as Wildlife Educators) on the exhibit floor and in Live Collections (now Animal Encounters) on the mammal team. I also joined the raptor team. I am currently a husbandry volunteer and not only get to continue working with our non-releasable birds of prey and mammals, but also with many of our other incredible education animals. In the past I was also a fundraising volunteer, a home care volunteer, hospital shift volunteer, mentor and shift leader, on the rescue-return-release team, and a substitute supervisor. I continue to help with the hospital hotline and accessions during the busy season, and I provide home care for raccoons and opossums. I love hearing people’s “wildlife experiences”, talking about my own, and sharing information about wildlife to encourage interest in, respect for, and conservation of wildlife and their habitats.
Words of Encouragement
Despite the challenges of the past several months, we are feeling the support of our community more than ever. Throughout the closure, we have been receiving kind words from donors, volunteers, and members who miss our organization, the animal ambassadors, and each other. Here are a few highlights of the messages we have received:
“As an AE volunteer since 2007, I am really missing the resident animals. I’m very grateful that the AE staff is working so hard and such long hours to keep them all healthy and happy. I hope the staff can stay strong and healthy during this difficult time. I also miss working in the hospital on Monday nights. Hopefully we can all get through this and a vaccine will be found so we volunteers can come back to work. In the meantime, thank you for the weekly newsletters.”
— Carol Johnson
“Lindsay will always be an essential part of my granddaughter’s education as it was for my two daughters before her, who have grown up with a deep respect for the wildlife around them. It is especially important in this critical moment that we nurture our connection with the creatures with whom we share the planet and that we teach our kids to be excited when they hear a rustle in the leaves or see the flash of a lizard’s tail between the fence slats.”
– James Ketsdever
“My first visit to Lindsay was when my now 44 year-old son was 2 1/2. A friend suggested that we go to Lindsay one day with our toddlers and I had no idea what she was talking about. Thus began a wonderful few years of taking my son, and later my daughter, to classes at the museum, having my daughter’s birthday party at the museum, as well as “renting” one of the small animals for a week, every so often. Regarding the animal renting, we rented rats, hamsters and guinea pigs and rabbits. After “trying-out” the different little animals, our family decided upon getting a couple of guinea pigs for ourselves; not too small, not too big. Still Lindsay is a wonderful resource that I take my son’s own daughters to every now and then. We make this donation with love in our hearts for Lindsay.”
— Trudy Salter
“In the mid 70s I met my first owl and tarantula here. It vanquished my fear of spiders and strengthened my love for animals. I’ve since brought my son and want to bring my future grandkids. We’ve also brought sick and injured wildlife here for care over the years. No other place does what Lindsay does for our community.”
— Katrina Carington
From Field Trips to a Dream Job
Lead Animal Keeper Rachael Cross Shares About Her Love for Lindsay Wildlife
I feel like I did not choose to work at Lindsay — it chose me. I grew up in the East Bay and I remember coming to Lindsay on field trips and with my family. It inspired me. My first career path was in something very different (3D animation) but there was little passion or inspiration. I felt lost and remembered those amazing critters I used to visit. I started volunteering, interning, accepted a part-time job, and was then offered a dream job that I never thought I would be able to achieve.
The mission of connecting people with wildlife is what inspired me to push myself and work the many part time-jobs I had to in order to fulfill my dream. Zoological facilities like our very own Lindsay Wildlife are so important to conservation. Our animal ambassadors have the most important job in the world: saving their wild counterparts. They bridge that connection and inspire our visitors to get involved.
It is a difficult time during this COVID-19 crisis but our animal ambassadors deserve our utmost attention and the same passion we have on any regular day. I strive to make their day normal. It seems like a simple goal but with our limited (yet amazing) staff and handful of volunteers, it’s a challenge. We are doing extraordinary work. I’m proud to work with our Animal Encounters team.
Every so often we get some visitors walking by the outside of the building while we’re training or exercising animals. Their questions and desire to learn continue to inspire me. If we can still educate people, even if it’s just one person, about why turkey vultures are essential for the environment, or that, yes, snakes are gentle and helpful at rodent control in our shared habitats… it’s worth it. You can help us spread awareness and save wildlife by making a gift here. Thank you.
A Lifelong Passion for Animals
Jane Maxwell always loved animals. She grew up with dogs and birds, but made a habit of adopting hard-to-place cats and doting on them at her home in Point Richmond. She surrounded herself with animals and was a true friend to wildlife.
Living for many years in Alamo and Walnut Creek, Jane was a longtime supporter of Lindsay Wildlife Experience and our work, and remarked to her family that simply knowing Lindsay existed as a haven for injured wildlife gave her peace of mind. She agonized over every bird she saw hit a window, and would spring into action when necessary to save an animal’s life.
Jane generously made many annual donations to Lindsay and other animal organizations in the Bay Area and wanted to make sure that help continued after she was gone. When she passed away at nearly 104 years of age, her family reached out to share her story with us at Lindsay. A relative said that Jane would be happy that her gift was being used as part of the Love for Lindsay Wildlife Campaign. “She is looking down from above and nodding, I am sure,” Jane’s family member shared. “She’d be very humbled but proud.”
We are grateful to continue Jane’s legacy of caring for animals at Lindsay Wildlife Experience.
Amazing Animals, Amazing People
Lead Animal Keeper Lauren Amy Shares About Her Love for Lindsay Wildlife
One reason I love working at Lindsay Wildlife Experience is the community it brings together.
As an animal keeper at Lindsay, not only do I get to spend my days taking care of amazing animals, I also get to spend time around some amazing people. My coworkers, our volunteers, and Lindsay’s visitors all contribute to why I love working at Lindsay.
Every day, I get to share Lindsay’s message of connecting people to wildlife. Being able to see someone learn about all the small quills on a North American porcupine, or see how large an eagle’s talons truly are compared to their own hand, are the kinds of interactions that make Lindsay special to me. And while being able to interact with the public will always motivate me to continue learning, it is working with my fellow coworkers and our volunteers, and witnessing their passion and dedication for Lindsay and the animals, that inspires me daily.
It is during these difficult times, when our “normal Lindsay routine” has been temporarily interrupted that I see how well our team can pull together. Volunteers and our coworkers from all departments are working together to make sure Lindsay continues to be at its best. I know that whatever challenges we may face in the future, there will always be a great community of people supporting each other.
Giving in Memory of Diablo
My name is Jan Bindas, and I am a dedicated volunteer with Lindsay Wildlife as well as a donor to the Love for Lindsay Wildlife Campaign. I was motivated to donate in memory of Diablo, our beloved turkey vulture, that I had the privilege and great joy of knowing for 29 of his 32 years at Lindsay Wildlife. I got to spend many precious hours with him over the years both as a member of the Friday raptor team, and throughout his life with us. To say that he was special to me would be an understatement. He was a dear friend, my heart connection. Of course, he would never miss an opportunity to try to nip me with his beak if the moment presented itself, and he got great pleasure whenever he was successful in doing so. He kept me on my toes and taught me to be ready for anything. I especially treasured our walks in Larkey Park when he was on the ground with a long, light cord (creance) attached to the jesses on his legs, which enabled him to walk wherever he wished. I tossed pieces of mice in various spots where it was up to him, with his excellent sense of smell, to find them. He particularly liked hunting for them under piles of leaves. Many families got to know Diablo on these walks and were able to see the beauty of turkey vultures and how unique they are. After all, there were many Diablo stories to share with the most often asked question being “Why does he only have one wing?” He was an amazing wildlife ambassador. People learned many things from Diablo, although he never spoke a word: be kind to wildlife, accept whatever comes your way, have tolerance, and enjoy life.
I loved Diablo and always will. He taught me many things over those years. First and foremost, he taught me to take life as it comes: the good and the not so good, happy or sad; to make the best of everything and that laughter really is the best medicine; to focus on the good; that friendship is built on trust and a good friend is always there for you and silently has your back when you need it the most. He was always there for me in both happy and sad times. And I was there for him. We were there for each other. He was my heart, and he always had my back. He was my best friend.
Diablo was the reason I began to donate to Lindsay Wildlife. Initially it was in honor of him, and now it is in his memory. I have always specifically requested that my donation in his name went to support our wildlife ambassadors. After all, Diablo spent 32 wonderful years with us. What better way to recognize him than to support the needs of our extraordinary wildlife ambassadors?
Diablo will continue to live on in the hearts of all who loved him and in my favorite memories of our time together. He was truly one in a million. You will always be missed, my dear friend, but will forever be a part of Lindsay Wildlife.
I’m grateful that I was able to honor Diablo and celebrate the friendship we had through the Love for Lindsay Wildlife Campaign. Please join me by making a donation today to help us reach our $250K goal. If you haven’t donated yet, there is still time. Click here to make your gift.
A Volunteer's Story
My name is Carolyn Knoll, and I am proud to be a Lindsay Wildlife Experience volunteer and also a member of the Love for Lindsay Wildlife Campaign Committee. I am committed to the success of LWE and the campaign because I have been a lifelong animal lover.
My mother’s family were ranchers in Lompoc, California, for years and, after the Depression, my grandfather worked for what is today CalTrans. He was part of the team that built the highways in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.
As a result of her childhood, my mother loved the national parks and anything wild and beautiful. We always had pets when I was a child and visited the parks often.
One summer years ago, when I was about 8 or 9 years old, a sparrow fell out of its nest that was built every year in the rafters of our outside patio. My mother thought that its mother would never accept the little bird if it had been handled by humans. She had learned that when she was young and we really didn’t know any differently at the time.
I insisted on taking care of the little bird until it got better which happened quickly in about a week or so. We called my grandparents who had a really big backyard because we wanted to release it where it had lots of open space. Little did we know that the best place to release it was where we found it.
My grandmother was all for it but, when we arrived, my grandfather was not happy because he didn’t want to take care of it. We assured him that he wouldn’t have to. The bird had different ideas.
It would tap on the kitchen window once or twice a day and my grandfather grumbling all the while would go out on the porch and feed that little bird from his hand. This went on for several years until the bird stopped showing up.
I have had other experiences with wildlife as I have gotten older but this incident made such a huge impression on my life. I can still see, in my mind’s eye, my grandfather sitting on his back porch feeding the little bird from his hand.
I want to thank all of you who have donated to the Love for Lindsay Wildlife Campaign. Thanks to you, we have raised $172,208 towards our $250,000 goal. If you haven’t donated yet, there is still time. Click here to make your gift.