Home ClarkFest: Wildlife Center of Virginia to fete founder

ClarkFest: Wildlife Center of Virginia to fete founder

wildlife-center2The Wildlife Center of Virginia, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, has a big weekend of music and celebration coming up on the first weekend in June, and the public is invited.

Activities will include presentations, music, food, fine wine, and guest appearances by some of the Center’s wildlife ambassadors. Proceeds from the weekend’s events will benefit the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

The weekend will kick off at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, June 3 with a reception at the Wildlife Center focusing on the Center’s popular African Educational Safari Program.  For more than a dozen years, the Center has taken groups of travelers on exciting photo safaris to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and other locations, to view the dramatic wildlife, habitats, and cultures of that part of the world.  The Wildlife Center’s partners in South Africa, Joe and Micha Viljoen, will be the guests of honor for the evening.

There is no charge for the event; however, space is limited and reservations are required.  Additional information is available at wildlifecenter.org/news_events/events/african-wildlife-educational-photo-safari-reception

On Saturday, June 4, starting at 6:00 p.m., the Wildlife Center is using the 65th birthday of Ed Clark, the Center’s President and Co-Founder, as an excuse to have a party for all of the Center’s friends and supporters.  The event will be held at Barren Ridge Vineyards in Fishersville.  Since Clark is a fan of Jimmy Buffett’s music, the party will have a tropical theme.  In addition to great food and fine Barren Ridge wines, music will be provided by the “trop-rock” super-duo Latitude.  Everyone is invited to break out their best Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops and help get the summer started right!  Tickets for the event are $65/person and may be purchased through the Wildlife Center’s website.

The festive weekend will culminate on Sunday, June 5 at 3:00 p.m. at the Wayne Theater in Waynesboro, with a very special and very significant musical presentation – Back Home Again – A Tribute to John Denver, featuring Tom Becker, a former member of the New Christy Minstrels [the first musical group John Denver joined when launching his professional career]. In addition to Becker’s band, the concert will feature the accompaniment of the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra.

Special reserved tickets for the concert and a private brunch reception prior to the concert are available at $65/person and may be purchased through the Wildlife Center’s website, at wildlifecenter.org/news_events/events/birthday-celebration

General admission tickets [at $35/$25 each] are available from the Wayne Theater Box Office, at waynetheatre.ticketforce.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=25

According to Center President Clark, “John Denver’s music has been very inspirational to me throughout my adult life, helping me to make the decision to leave teaching and dedicate my career to conservation.”  Clark was more than just another John Denver fan, however; he was well acquainted with the superstar, having first met the singer in 1980 at a White House reception hosted by President Jimmy Carter.  Clark and Denver had ongoing contact for many years, sharing an interest in such conservation issues as the protection of public lands in Alaska and the world’s oceans, and the work of the National Wildlife Federation, in which Clark played a leadership role for more than 20 years.

The concert is being recorded by local PBS affiliate WVPT for inclusion in a television special which will be produced for broadcast later in the year.  In addition to the concert, the special will feature the work of the internationally renowned Wildlife Center of Virginia and will highlight Clark’s 40-year [so far] career as a national and international leader in wildlife conservation.

“The music is the soundtrack of my career, and this concert is truly a very meaningful event,” says Clark, who is also good friends with Tom Becker and his wife.  “In addition to the music being very meaningful for me personally, the partnership between the Wildlife Center of Virginia, the Waynesboro Symphony, the Wayne Theater, and WVPT is a very symbolic accomplishment for our community; it shows what can be done when organizations work together for the good of all.”

Every year, about 2,300 animals – ranging from Bald Eagles to Black Bear cubs to hummingbirds and chipmunks – are brought to the Wildlife Center for care.  The goal of the Center is “to treat to release” – to restore patients to health and return as many as possible to the wild.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia is an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine.  Since its founding in 1982, the nonprofit Center has cared for more than 70,000 wild animals, representing 200 species of native birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.  The Center’s public education programs share insights gained through the care of injured and orphaned wildlife, in hopes of reducing human damage to wildlife.

In July 2011, the Center launched Critter Cam, which allows wildlife enthusiasts around the world to watch a variety of Center patients.  Patients that are currently “featured” on one of the three Critter Cam feeds include Papa G’Ho, a Great Horned Owl serving as a surrogate for three owlets, and Wildlife Center permanent residents Buttercup [a Black Vulture] and Maggie, a Peregrine Falcon.  A link to Critter Cam can be found at www.wildlifecenter.org.



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