MWR Minute – January 2024

January brought ice, snow and frigid cold but that did not slow down MWR as we had another great month. We welcomed two new members, Alan Parks and Dane Chamberlin, to our Board of Directors. Learn more about Alan and Dane.

Recent changes to the Federal Animal Welfare Act now require facilities keeping birds to obtain a USDA license by February 21, 2024. Consequently, MWR had our first USDA compliance inspection this month. We are happy to share that our inspector was very impressed and complimentary of our operations resulting in an immediate approval of our new USDA license.

Patient Update
This month we admitted 17 new birds into care representing 11 different species. In 2023 we cared for 549
patients of more than 70 species.

Sponsor Thank You
A big Thank You to the following people who answered the call to sponsor our rehab patients through
Sponsorship Sunday this month.

  • Dana Young Alvarez
  • Lauren Harry
  • Amber Lovell
  • Chris Williams
  • Lana Taylor
  • Starlit Byrd Tomlinson
  • Jeff Leathers
  • Lisa O’Connor

Your gift is life-giving for these animals. Keep an eye out for upcoming Sponsorship Sunday

Program Update
On a chilly sunrise Wildlife Director, Stephanie Hogan, and volunteer, Penny Gallenbeck supported the
US Army Corps of Engineers at Arkabulta Lake with their annual Eagle Watch program. 12 determined attendees shrugged off the cold to catch a glimpse of our resident eagles and got to meet MWR animal
ambassadors Mochni the Red-shouldered hawk and Rufous the Eastern Screech owl. We are so thankful
for the partnership we have with the USACE.

At our Bioactive Terrarium Workshop, we learned about the delicate balance between living and non-
living elements in a natural system. Then everyone created their very own mini-ecosystem terrarium
complete with springtails and isopods.

MWR had a great 2 days at the Aces Exotic Pet Expo where our volunteers and animal ambassadors
connected with hundreds of people sharing our mission and inspiring them to support wildlife
conservation, education, and rehabilitation. A special thank you to volunteer Natalie Rodgers for
organizing this event for MWR.

Looking Ahead
MWR has announced our Wildlife Summer Camp and Nature Art Summer camp and are offering 2 full
scholarships to each camp in memory of our founder Valery Smith. We have also introduced a 3-part
Backyard Wildlife Habitat workshop series. And it is not too late to register for our Keeping Isopods
workshop on February 17. Not sure what an Isopod is? You will after you attend this workshop. Learn
more about these great programs at our MWR Events page.

Valentine’s Day Drive

February is often referred to as the month of love and if you are short of a Valentine to show some love to you have no need to worry. Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. has got you covered. You can show some love to these sweethearts of ours with a $10.00 donation to go towards their care. If someone has done you wrong, you can secretly gloat how you had a mouse named after your ex fed to one of our education birds or snake. Or if love has you smitten, you can spread the love through your Valentine donation to the care of our education ambassadors.

Please donate HERE.

New Board Members Announcement

Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation Inc is excited to welcome Alan Parks and Dane Chamberlin as the newest members of our Board of Directors.

Alan Parks and his wife Alishia moved to Desoto County 10 years ago having been in Memphis since 1993. His son, Harrison, and daughter, Noa, graduated from Lewisburg High School.

He received a B.S. in Geoscience from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a Masters of Engineering (Mining) from the University of Missouri‐Rolla.

Alan is the VP of Resource Development and Mining with Memphis Stone & Gravel Company where he has worked for twenty-four years. In this role, Alan serves as an exploration geologist, mining engineer, and environmental manager. He has especially enjoyed the opportunity to lead field trips and mine tours, having taught thousands of students, educators, researchers, and “rockhounds” about the mining cycle, construction resource economy, and local geology.

Alan says he is “excited to help MWR utilize its impressive list of natural resource assets and promote its expertise in caring for injured wildlife”. He looks forward to helping MWR become a regional leader in providing better access to wildlife education and outdoor activities.

Dane Chamberlin is a Desoto County native. He grew up in Hernando and now lives in Coldwater with his wife Amy and two children Dylan (8) and Barrett (4).

Dane is a 2001 graduate of Hernando High School and obtained his associate degree in computer programming from Northwest Mississippi Community College. Dane has worked at Entergy for 17 years where he has held multiple positions. Currently he is the Region Manager, Customer Service.

He is an avid outdoorsman and says “I wanted to join MWR because I believe in the mission of MWR which is education, preservation, rehabilitation of native species in MS. As a board member, I hope to help grow the organization and advance the great work that we do with our education programs. I believe that we have a great future ahead with ample opportunities to promote the organization and our mission.”.

Please help us welcome Alan and Dane to the MWR family. We are blessed to have them as part of our leadership team.

MWR Volunteer Spotlight – Charlie Crews

Volunteers are the hands, feet and heart that power the MWR mission. We cannot exist
without their generous contributions of time and talent. So each month we will be
appreciating one of our volunteers with a spotlight post.

Meet Charlie Crews,

Charlie began volunteering with MWR on October 31, 2013. As a longtime wildlife
enthusiast, Charlie found MWR on the internet and it peeked his interest as an
organization he would enjoy working with. And we are so glad that he did.
As one of our longest serving volunteers, Charlie has helped to build and maintain
animal enclosures and was part of the team that renovated the current wildlife hospital
at Arkabutla Lake. He even encouraged Home Depot to support the renovation. He
continues to help MWR with education programs, rehab rescues and releases.

Fun Fact:
Charlie shared that one of his most memorable experiences with MWR was “when we
got a call about a chicken running in traffic on Goodman Road, we were having to stop
traffic to try and get it and people were laughing at seeing us chase a chicken all over
Goodman road.”

Thank you, Charlie for your many years of dedicated service to MWR.

MWR is currently in need of dedicated volunteers to help in the following areas:

  • Social media coordinator
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation/ Animal care
  • Baby Bird Brigade (Spring and Summer)
  • Education programs
  • Rehab patient transport

If you are interested in volunteering with MWR please complete the application form and submit to

MWR has the only Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator in Mississippi

Congratulations to MWR Wildlife Director, Stephanie Hogan, for her recent renewal as a Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator. This rigorous certification, administered by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, recognizes rehabilitators who achieve the highest standard of wildlife care through academic excellence.

Stephanie first achieved this designation in 2021 and is the only IWRC Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator in the State of Mississippi. Renewal is required every two years and involves completion of approved continuing education courses in the wildlife rehabilitation field.

Stephanie was personally chosen by MWR Founder Valery Smith as her successor for the Wildlife Director position. We are proud and honored to have Stephanie leading our daily wildlife rehabilitation program.

MWR Minute – December 2023

With Christmas celebrations in full swing and 2023 coming to an end, Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation had an eventful December. We were chosen as a finalist for the Desoto Times Tribune 2023 Desoto’s Best awards for categories of best charity and best trails. And as we eagerly await the results, we are very honored to be considered. On the last day of the year, Wildlife Director Stephanie Hogan lead a team of amazing volunteers on an adventurous 20-hour rescue of an American Bald Eagle.  Read the full story HERE.

Patient Update:

This month we admitted 32 new patients into care, 31 birds and 1 turtle of 15 different species.

Sponsor Thank You:

A big Thank You to Doug Cooke and Dana Young Alvarez who answered the call to sponsor our rehab patients through Sponsorship Sunday this month. Your gift is life-giving for these animals.  Keep an eye out for upcoming Sponsorship Sunday opportunities

Program Update:

We visited Pleasant Hill Elementary.  Athena the Barn Owl and Rufous the Eastern Screech owl helped us teach 44 3rd grade students about animal adaptations.  We also learned how all things are connected through the food web. The students enjoyed exploring this concept hands on by dissecting owl pellets.  We are looking forward tovisiting  more schools in 2024.  Please reach out if you would like us to come to your school.

Looking Ahead:

As we enter the new year, MWR is excited about the many upcoming programs, workshops, camps and projects we have planned.   Continue to follow us on Facebook or at our website to find out what we have going on.  And don’t miss our Bioactive Terrarium Workshop coming up on January 13

Wishing everyone a blessed 2024.

    MWR Minute – November 2023

    This is the first of what we plan to be a monthly update on what is going on at Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc.

    November is a month designated for giving thanks. And MWR is thankful for so many things. For our followers and supporters. For the opportunity to care for the many patients we receive and especially for those memories when we release them back into the wild. So many great things happened in November, here are just a few highlights.

    Patient Update:

    This month we admitted 26 new patients into care, 23 birds and 3 turtles of 18 different species.

    Sponsor Thank You:

    A big Thank You to the following people who answered the call to sponsor our rehab patients through Sponsorship Sunday.

    • Kissi Sullivan
    • Marsha Klimetz
    • Dana Young Alvarez
    • Teresa Reid
    • William Latham
    • Leslie Shipley
    • Christina Baldwin
    • Julia Sissom Maitre
    • Laura Haulum
    • Carol Decker
    • Jeff Leathers
    • Carol Bohon
    • Karen Brown
    • Christy Milbourne

    Your gift is life-giving for these animals. Keep an eye out for upcoming Sponsorship Sunday opportunities.

    And a very special thank you to Trunkline Gas Company for their generous year-end donation.

    You can make a year end gift HERE.

    Programs update:

    • On our Fall Forest Hike, we enjoyed the beautiful autumn foliage and explored how the life cycle of trees sustains the forest, while meeting some amazing forest friends along the way. Check our page often to learn about upcoming programs.
    • North Point Christian School learned about nocturnal animal adaptations, got to meet Athena the barn owl and got hands on as they dissected owl pellets. Teachers, we would love to meet your students.
    • The Moreau family had an up-close encounter with our education ambassadors through our Meet & Greet program. Reach out today to schedule this unique memory making experience for your family.

    Thanksgiving month would not be complete without acknowledging the $3000 we raised for Giving Tuesday to help feed our patients in 2024. We cannot express how grateful we are to all those that participated.

    MWR Hires New Executive Director

    The Board of Directors of Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc is pleased to announce the hiring of our new Executive Director, Mykl Wallrath.

    Mykl brings a wealth of professional experience from all over the United States in leading environmental conservation and education. He was brought in to advance the mission of MWR and to lead the effort to build a state of the art Nature Center and the Valery Smith Wildlife Hospital.

    “Valery Elizabeth Smith dedicated her life to saving thousands of animals and inspiring our community to protect wildlife,” says Mykl. “It is my honor to carry on her mission of caring for wildlife, inspiring our community, and leading MWR to accomplish her goals of a wildlife hospital, nature center, and flight cage.”

    Please join us in welcoming Mykl to the MWR team!


    The MWR Board of Directors

    • Wayne Spell
    • Karen Brown
    • Kate Friedman
    • Donnie Chambliss
    • Russ Kicker
    • Brett Hogan

    Thank you to Mark Randall at Desoto Times Tribune for the great article!