Nottingham Nature Nook rehabilitates young or injured birds and mammals in East Lansing. In addition to healing wildlife, the Nature Nook is also a place where people can reconnect with nature and even do a little healing of their own.
In this charity spotlight, I spoke with the Director of Nottingham Nature Nook, Cheryl Connell-Marsh.
As the manager of Nottingham Equestrian Center, Cheryl was no stranger to animals. She had even rehabilitated and released baby birds, but when Cheryl’s friend asked her to care for a baby black squirrel that had fallen from its nest, Cheryl wasn’t sure what to do.
Cheryl went to a wildlife rehabilitator in Eagle, Michigan for help, but instead of finding someone to care for the squirrel, she was taught how to care for it herself. After releasing the squirrel, Cheryl later discovered that it would come to her when she called! At that moment, Cheryl was hooked.
The next year, Cheryl helped five squirrels. Then eight. She started caring for rabbits and even deer. For ten years Cheryl helped animals as a licensed rehabilitator, but as the number of animals she helped grew, so did her expenses.
Cheryl spent her free moments forming an organization that would allow her to continue helping hundreds of animals each year. In 2013, Nottingham Nature Nook was ready to serve the wildlife of mid-Michigan.
Nottingham Nature Nook has rehabilitated and released hundreds of animals over the past year. Squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, foxes, woodchucks, moles, raccoons, and songbirds of all varieties are welcome. Unfortunately, due to Chronic Wasting Disease, the DNR does not currently allow wildlife rehabs to take in deer, but the Nature Nook has helped many deer in the past.
If you find an animal that might need rescue, the Nature Nook also offers guidelines to determine if and how you should help.
Cheryl also has an education license which allows Nottingham Nature Nook to keep non-releasable animals such as their blind fox, Athena, in enclosed areas for educational purposes.
The educational programs offered include a Summer Day Camp for children between the ages of 6 and 12, a Holiday Fun Day, and occasional visits from Girl Scout troops. These are great opportunities for kids to be outside, see the animals, learn about wildlife and rehabilitation, and connect with nature.
The Nature Nook continues to discover better ways to care for animals. As their experience grows, so does their success rate. Today, more than 90% of animals such as rabbits and deer (before Chronic Wasting Disease prevented their care) are successfully rehabilitated.
Cheryl also enjoys working with kids. It’s a great accomplishment to see someone grow and change when they experience nature.
Nature has a lot of therapeutic qualities that are easy to miss or forget and Cheryl would love to see the human side of the nonprofit grow.
More outdoor enclosures would allow visitors to learn about wildlife, experience sanctuary in the outdoors, and heal with the animals in their natural surroundings.
If you want to start or help run a nonprofit, it’s important to be passionate about your cause, but it’s also important to realize what is needed for the success of your organization. Be prepared to learn and don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone to make it happen!
Develop your people skills, share stories and photos on social media, and write from the heart. Put your cause out there for others to share. “Word of mouth” is still a great way for people to discover you, even if it’s online.
When you volunteer at an organization like Nottingham Nature Nook, it makes sense that you want to spend a lot of time with the animals. There’s a lot of cleaning involved, though. Baby animals are especially delicate so they require a great deal of experience to care for properly. And despite everyone’s best efforts, some animals don’t survive.
As a new volunteer, you want to enjoy the work you do, but some of it may not be glamorous or fulfilling even though it is vital to the cause you are supporting. Just remember that no matter what, you are making a difference!
If you want to learn more about Nottingham Nature Nook, you can reach them by clicking one of the buttons below.