Remembering Val Series: 6

From Melissa Gilbert, NMMR director:

Not many people know the full history of how we {North Mississippi Mammal Rehab} got to where we are today. As we approach our 4th anniversary, I would like for you all to know how it all got started…all the way back to the beginning!

This tiny, newly hatched turtle is the reason NMMR exists today. This photo was taken August 29th of 2010. Of course it all started way before NMMR was founded. This particular day was the first time I formally met Valery, founder of Mississippi Wildlife Rehab, Inc. Valery took this tiny patient in after he hatched with issues. I had no idea that day would lead me through such an incredible journey.

Back then, I did photography as a profession. When I met Valery, and saw the amazing work she was doing with wildlife, I knew I wanted to help in some way. I offered Valery photos in trade for portfolio work. It’s the only way, at that time, I figured I help and give back. Plus, I was fascinated by everything I learned that day and I felt drawn to come back and visit again.

It wasn’t long before I signed up as a volunteer, started learning wildlife rehab, and mentoring under Valery. I went on to working with raptors and learned how to educate with wildlife from Kate. Valery taught me most of what I know today about rehab. Kate taught me education and working with wildlife ambassador’s. Some of my most memorable and enjoyed moments were spent with with Mississippi Wildlife Rehab as a volunteer. After almost 10 years, I decided to spread my wings, and took the opportunity to take over the mammal program Valery started many years ago. In January of 2019, NMMR was officially born.

This January NMMR will celebrate the start of our 4th year of establishment….all because of this tiny little turtle and my amazing friend in wildlife, Valery. When they say, “Surely just one life, of one tiny animal, doesn’t matter in the large scheme of things”…you can be certain that they are most definitely wrong! So, when you see our post and photos of tiny field mice and the like, know that you are looking at a direct reflection of our mission in that patient. Every mammal in need has a place here at NMMR, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Each one has a purpose and it’s our honor to care for them. This is how it all started and it’s how it will always be.

Special thanks to Valery and Kate for believing in me, loving me, and mentoring me. You both are the reason there is significant change in the world. God bless you both for your many years of work with wildlife…and for sharing your love for it all…with me.

Melissa C. Gilbert

Wildlife Director/Founder NMMR, Inc.

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