Compassion in Action: Saving One Wildlife Animal at a Time

by | Jan 21, 2022 | Heartivist Of The Week

Gretchen Strate had always loved animals but witnessing a terrifying incident inspired a far deeper connection to them, one that would change her life forever. On her way to a wedding reception, Gretchen watched as a car in front of her intentionally ran over a flock of geese. Horrified, she stopped her car, picked up an injured goose and raced to the Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release exam room at the Animal Humane Society in Minnesota. Moved by the swift response to help this animal, she asked to volunteer and would go on to work in animal transport, education, outreach and eventually, serve on the Board of Directors. Gretchen’s immediate and heartfelt response is a stunning illustration of compassion in action. That love, passion and drive continue to weave their way through her work.

Today, Gretchen works with Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release Wildlife Rescue Team, a wildlife organization supporting rehabilitation through education, recruitment and direct rehabilitative support, where she’s had a tremendous impact. Gretchen noticed an important gap in local services; while the community had wildlife clinics and private rehabilitation spaces that provided care, they did not offer services for capturing injured and sick wildlife. For example, if you found a fox in your yard that had been hurt, you might not know what to do, how to keep both you and the animal safe or who to call for help.

Driven by a desire to provide assistance and compassionate care for wildlife animals in need of help and support the local community, Gretchen developed a plan to create a trained and equipped volunteer Wildlife Rescue Team that would rescue and transport injured and sick wildlife that people might not be able to safely capture on their own. In addition, Gretchen wanted to provide outreach, education about wildlife species and information about conservation issues to the community.

“Conservation is so important but it’s often focused on populations as opposed to individual wildlife animals. When it comes to individuals, some say let nature take its course but many of the injuries and illnesses that wildlife experience are not the result of “natural causes” but rather the result of anthropogenic threats. I believe in the value of each individual animal and the importance of providing assistance because nonhuman animals are also sentient, have emotions, and can suffer and feel pain. It’s not just working with the animals – which I love – but in being a part of a rescue team, there’s a lot of interaction with the public and I see how many people want to help. It’s encouraging to see the love and respect people have for wildlife,” said Gretchen.

The Pollination Project grant allowed her to bring her dream to life. Gretchen built a team – the first rescue team in the state of Minnesota solely dedicated to rescuing wildlife. In addition, they purchased nets, bite proof gloves, kennels and safety vests. “We are a very small organization so the The Pollination Project grant was so helpful. We are very, very grateful,” said Gretchen.

Since their official start in June 2021, the team has been deployed 81 times and they’ve grown from 4 volunteers to 15 with a hope for further expansion as they were stretched a bit thin in the summer – the busiest time of their year. While winter can be a slower season, they have recently received calls about water fowl with broken wings, including one that led to their first winter kayak rescue. A swan with a wing abrasion and broken foot was in need of help. Navigating an icy area in a kayak on a 13 degree day brings about many safety concerns. However, this team was able to overcome every challenge and successfully rescue the water fowl that is now in rehabilitation.

No matter what obstacles they face, this team continues to navigate the world – just like that icy water – with courage, determination and heart. As Gretchen continues to grow the team, there is no doubt that they will not only help wildlife, they’ll educate the public on the importance of caring for individual wildlife animals and the ripple effect of that work will be endless. 



It's Volunteer Month! 🌟 🌟 🌟 Today we celebrate our grant advisors working on Economic Development focus area.

By meticulously selecting projects for our seed grants, they're not just funding ideas—they're empowering communities and sparking transformative change. 

Join us in celebrating their invaluable efforts and the positive impact they're creating together!

🔸 Eric Anorrey (Ghana)
🔸 Mariam Nakiryowa (Uganda)
🔸 Jean-Marie Zihalirwa (DRC)
🔸 Emily Logiron Asekon (Kenya)
🔸 Georgia Bernbaum (USA) 
🔸 Herve Tsoala Kuete (Cameroon)
🔸 Jackson Bizimungu (Rwanda)
🔸 Okumu Dickson (Uganda)
🔸 Samuel Litunya (Kenya)


#volunteermonth #volunteer #heartivism #economicdevelopment #change #empoweringcommunities
The Green Earth Initiative (#Cameroon) is a project dedicated to educating and empowering students about climate change, sustainable development, and environmental challenges, that has received a seed grant from The Pollination Project in 2023. With a focus on fostering environmental protection and conservation, the initiative establishes Eco-clubs and Environment Clubs in schools, providing students with the tools to learn, engage, and take action in their communities.

Since receiving the grant from TPP, the Green Earth Initiative has expanded its reach, now encompassing 9 additional schools across two regions/cities, surpassing its initial goal of 5. 
This expansion was made possible by the overwhelming interest from school authorities and the growing number of volunteers and team members.

Through the support of TPP and other partners, the project's environmental education programs, awareness campaigns, and initiatives have impacted over 8000 students in two cities of Cameroon. Additionally, the initiative has planted over 600 trees, launched 5 Environment/Eco Clubs, and distributed over 150 adapted waste bins produced from recycled plastics, contributing to proper waste management practices.

The seed grant from The Pollination Project has been instrumental in catalyzing the growth and success of the Green Earth Initiative, enabling it to make a tangible difference in the lives of students and communities, while fostering a culture of environmental stewardship and sustainability. 

#environmentprotection #seedgrant #heartivism #environmentaleducation
It's Volunteer's Month!!! 🌟 Celebrating our family of Grant Advisors 🌟

With 80 grant advisors, all experts in their respective fields and many of them former grantees, The Pollination Project is powered by a wealth of knowledge and experience. Their service is not only precious but also essential, as they bring unique insights and understanding to the application process, ensuring that resources are allocated where they can have the greatest impact. 

🎉 Today we celebrate our incredible grant advisors in the HEALTH & WHOLENESS focus area! 

🔸 Ben Kilama (Uganda) 
🔸 Kosa Jimmy (Uganda) 
🔸 Marina Haque (USA) 
🔸 John Ebong (Nigeria) 
🔸 Nzayisenga Emmanuel (Canada)
🔸 Rodger Mwanza (Zambia) 
🔸 Emmanuel Dushimimana (Rwanda) 
🔸 Nelly Hellen Onditi (Kenya) 
🔸 Daniel Ayodele Femi (Nigeria) 
🔸 Christopher Nwafor (South Africa)

Our heartfelt gratitude to these dedicated individuals for their invaluable contributions 🙏

@jim.kosa.5 @manud05 @duemmanuel @nelly.hellen1 @daniel_ayodele_femi 

#health #wholeness #grantmaking #grantadvisor #volunteermonth #volunteers #grants #heartivism #volunteersweek #nigeria #southafrica #uganda #rwanda #zambia #canada