Atlantic Wildlife Institute (AWI) encourages learning about the vital relationship between people and nature. The focus is on hands-on learning and research, rooted in a program of rescue, rehabilitation and release of displaced wildlife. AWI educational discovery programs take place:
- at a 120-acre conservation property near Sackville, New Brunswick,
- in schools, colleges and community settings throughout Atlantic Canada,
- and will soon be web-accessible via our Wildlife Learning Response Network.
The AWI is unique among wildlife rescue programs in Atlantic Canada in using rehabilitation to identify and highlight key environmental health issues for public attention and response.
Learning by doing is central to the mission. Wildlife rehabilitation work is a kind of ecological sampling. It helps identify environmental change. Habitat loss, toxicity, and wildlife-borne diseases can all be better understood if we document and study wildlife afflicted by these conditions.
The potential benefit is enormous.
In broad terms, it’s a future where humans live in harmony with the natural world.
In a single word, it’s about survival.
It depends on your generous support.
A Brief History
The seeds for the Atlantic Wildlife Institute were sown in 1995.
That was when Barry Rothfuss and Pam Novak shut down Westchester Wildlife, their highly successful wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre in New York, and moved north to Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada.
“In Westchester, our work focused largely on urban wildlife,” remembers Barry. “We were looking for a place where we could be in touch with truly wild creatures, in their native habitat.”
In 1996, they founded Maritime Atlantic Wildlife Inc., a registered Canadian charitable organization, and bought 120 acres of forest and abandoned farmland outside Sackville.
Since then, aided by widespread corporate, foundation, and voluntary support, that organization has:
- Rescued, rehabilitated and released hundreds of orphaned, injured or displaced birds and mammals every year.
- Helped more than 100 ‘at risk’ young people get their lives back on track through life skills training and employment.
- Provide summer employment opportunities for students and internships.
- Shared the experience of working with wildlife with thousands of schoolchildren, members of community groups and casual visitors.
Today, the once-abandoned property is a busy, year-round learning and research centre. It includes a medical building, a classroom, several barns, shelters, aviaries and enclosures for recovering and non-releasable wildlife.
In 2003, backed by a generous grant from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and donations from several corporate sponsors, construction began on a new Wildlife Learning Centre. The 200 square metre structure, completed in the Fall of 2005, is now the focal point for an expanded program of education and research under the new name – Atlantic Wildlife Institute.