For the busiest wildlife hospital in the state, the №1 priority has long been to nurse animals back to full health and get them back into the wild as quickly as possible.
However, the Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge has witnessed a separate priority become increasingly more important since the organization came into existence in the 1950s.
As the group continues to grow, it is forced to expand its horizons and bring in more supplies for these injured animals, and although the group is grateful for the donations it receives, space is at a premium.
“Running a refuge is a very cash-intense business,” donor relations manager John Dixon said. “We accept patients from other facilities and wildlife of all kinds from skunks to baby squirrels brought in by good citizens, but there is a cost to doing all of this.”
The refuge entails numerous components, including a nature center where visitors are welcomed and have the opportunity to check out static displays and a variety of educational materials. While this is considered the main hub on the property, the refuge is also home to vast educational experiences, including a variety of programs for homeschool children, numerous summer camps and a rehab hospital that treats more than 4,000 injured or displaced animals per year.
The property also includes 1.5 miles of trails people enjoy walking and photographing.
“So if we take in an owl for x number of weeks, we have to add those costs to the educational programs and basic finances of the facilities like keeping the heat running and the lights on,” Dixon said.
Luckily the group is innovative when it comes to brainstorming new ideas to raise money.
The group recently collaborated on a month-long online/social media campaign that will run until the end of March in an attempt to raise $15,000 to fully fund the cost of food, medicine and other supplies to prepare newborn wildlife for release back to natural habitat.
“While we’re proud of our history, a lot has changed since the 1950s so we wanted to come up with something that would draw people in and make it easy on them to donate,” Dixon said.
The group took to the social media side of things, making Facebook a primary method of communication to get the word out about its month-long “Formula 500: Race to Fill the Bottle” campaign that mirrors the famous “Got Milk” promotion to raise money for the formula needed to nurse the babies back to health and into the wild.
“We have a lot of young minds here that are tuned in with social media so we used their creativity as a sort of team effort to come up with this idea,” he said.
The group uses its Facebook page to promote its educational aspect, let the community know about the newest animals it has taken in, and also promote the unique character of the Pinelands that embodies a symbolic importance to the Medford community.
The last social media campaign was the “Change Her Flight” plan that aided a severely injured vulture. It raised more than $1,000 in fewer than 72 hours.
All 31 donors received a personal letter expressing the refuge’s gratitude toward. The organization is attempting to make their generosity infectious throughout the community to fund the growth of this statewide resource for wildlife rehabilitation, habitat preservation and education during its busiest months.
“Our supply costs during the spring months, mid to late March into June, average out to about $15,000 each year,” Dixon said.
The refuge will try to reach this number through its month-long social media campaign.
It also conducted its “Change Drive for Wildlife” event earlier in the month in which volunteers collected coins donated by several people throughout the community.
The money raised from this event will be totaled with the summer camp funds and the 16th Annual Whiskey, Wine and Wildlife event coming up in May to go toward the costs of keeping the Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge running at the state-of-the-art level it is today.
“It’s an organization built on joy and compassion,” Dixon said. “We have many volunteers that dedicate their free time to wildlife because it brings them a sense of purpose and accomplishment. They’re constantly injecting new ideas to help us grow and serve the communities that surrounds us.”
Anyone who has any questions about wildlife in the area or at their home are encouraged to call (856) 983–3329.
Donations for the Formula 500 campaign can be made by visiting www.cedarrun.org (click on DONATE) on the home page; or through www.gofundme.com/formula500.
Purchase tickets to upcoming events or find out more information regarding the summer camps online at www.cedarrun.org or contact Kathy Cantafio by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (856) 983–3329 ext. 100.