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2011 News Releases

Into the Wild: Dr. Nancy Powers coordinates K-12 learning goals for N.C. wildlife sanctuary

April 1, 2011

Longwood University

When evaluating her options as a volunteer for an organization that deals with rescuing wildlife, Dr. Nancy Powers, coordinator of elementary education in the College of Education and Human Services at Longwood, wasn't sure where she could apply her talents and expertise. Soon, however, it all became clear and now her work with developing learning standards to attract K-12 school groups from North Carolina and Virginia is underway.

The Conservators' Center is a nonprofit organization that preserves threatened species through responsible captive breeding, rescuing wildlife in need, and providing educational programs and support worldwide. Located on 45 acres in rural Caswell County, North Carolina, the Center attracts hundreds of visitors throughout the year including many school-aged children. Until recently, however, it did not have an established program to address the specific goals of Virginia's Standards of Learning and North Carolina's End of Grade testing. Powers took on the challenge of matching specific learning objectives and goals with organized programs already in place at the Conservators' Center. As a result, the Center is now prepared to host groups of K-12 students from Virginia and North Carolina who can visit as part of school-sponsored field trips and complete learning requirements at the same time.

"Even though the incredible animals at the Conservators' Center serve as the best possible ambassadors for their respective species and the need for comprehensive conservation efforts, educating students and adults alike is vital," said Dr. Powers.

"Being a part of this endeavor has been an exciting way to for me to facilitate the building of the center's education program and at the same time, further the commitment to the animals that have found a new lease on life, thanks to the efforts of faculty, staff, and volunteers."

The Conservators' Center, established in 1999 by Doug Evans and Mindy Stinner and opened to the public in 2007, is an animal sanctuary and not at all like a traditional zoo since most of the animals at the Center exist in their natural habitats. The Center houses one of the largest big cat (tigers, lions, leopards, and ocelots) populations in the United States and is also home to servals, caracals, bobcats, lynx, jungle cats, wolves, red foxes, New Guinea singing dogs, ringtailed lemurs, and binturongs. The Center is certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is inspected annually. Most of the animals housed at the Center were confiscated by government authorities or received from owners who were no longer able to control their animals. The center operates on donations and fees from tours and receives no state or federal funding to transport or house rescued animals.

A 3,000-square foot education building (donated by a community group in Chapel Hill) was recently opened and houses a gift shop, several offices, restrooms, a volunteer area, a kitchen, and a classroom large enough to accommodate 30 students. The Center's educational programs are designed to educate school and community groups about the Center's animals and its conservation work. Volunteer student interns are important to the work of the Center and college students from across the country apply to become interns each year. Applications for internships in a variety of areas are currently being accepted and students interested should contact the Center (www.conservatorscenter.org).

The Conservators' Center offers a variety of guided tours, including 90-minute to two-hour educational tours for individuals, families and large groups; a photography tour; and a twilight tour that allows visitors ages 12 and up to witness the compound's nocturnal species. Private tours can be arranged. Tours are scheduled most Saturdays and Sundays and some weekday tours are periodically offered. All tours and visits must be scheduled in advance; no one is permitted on the premises without an appointment. The center also hosts birthday parties.

"My hope is that those interested in the Center will take the time to read about the animals, their stories, and take the time to visit and possibly become part of this incredible opportunity," said Dr. Powers.

To learn more about the Conservators' Center and its Lifetime Adoption program or to schedule a tour, visit www.conservatorscenter.org or call 336.421.0883.