Wildlife centre to remain open thanks to community support
After announcing a dire financial situation that threatened its future in May, the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) has received enough community support to sustain operations.
AIWC volunteer and education liaison Berna-Dean Holland said more than $75,000 in donations has come in to the centre over the past month.
“We have had a lot of wonderful support from the community and we are really grateful and thankful to everyone. Within a very short period of time, we’ve turned things around and we absolutely are not going to be closing our doors,” she said.
“This has been a tremendous, wonderful and inspirational time to see how the community has stepped forward, and that it realizes that the centre is a vital and important component to wildlife conservation in Alberta.”
Holland, who has volunteered at the facility for the past 13 years, said the funds will allow the AIWC to continue to treat injured and orphaned animals throughout the summer months, but additional donations and fundraising will be required to support the AIWC’s annual operating costs of roughly $300,000.
“We’re not completely out of the woods in terms of operational funding, as we rely very heavily on donations to keep the doors open,” she said, adding the new board of directors, which was instated on May 17, are working very hard to secure funds.
“We have good plans, vision and strategies for fundraising, and we are optimistic about our future.”
The board has set a goal to raise $250,000 over the next six months through donations, corporate sponsorship, grassroots fundraising such as bottle drives and silent auctions, and online fundraising through “crowd funding” sites such as Indiegogo.
“We are very positive that we’ll get there because things are going extremely well,” said Holland. “The community has helped us a great deal. With continued support, we’re going to be just fine. We have a great vision and have seen the incredible generosity of this community and people from across Alberta.”
Holland said the funds will also assist the AIWC to move from its current location near Madden to a more permanent home.
“We want to make a perfect, permanent fit for fulfilling all of our mandates, in order to be able to continue to operate,” she said, adding the board has received several land offers and is trying to decide on the best option. “Wherever we go, the hope is that it will still allow us to fulfill all of our mandates as a facility.”
Holland said support can come in many forms, including simply buying a membership, volunteering, or even donating carrots or berries that you grow in your garden.
“There are lots of little things that people can do to help out,” she said.
For more information, call the centre at 403-946-2361 or visit www.aiwc.ca