(The message below from Executive Director Virginia Busch appears in the Endangered Wolf Center’s Winter 2016 Magazine. The current issue and previous issues are available on our website.)

Dear Friends of the Endangered Wolf Center,

I decided to get inspired while writing this article by going outside. Sitting with the warm sun on my face, a cool autumn breeze, birds singing and leaves rustling gives me a sense of clarity and calmness that I find difficult to obtain when at a desk under fluorescent lights.

I am saddened that as a society we have to label what once was an everyday activity for most of America’s children 30 years ago; going outside and digging in the dirt, making forts and catching lightning bugs is now called “nature play.”

The Endangered Wolf Center offers many opportunities to get back into nature. Our educational programs allow both adults and children to become intimate again with nature to heighten all five senses.

Year-end giving is upon us and I am delighted to rise to the challenge of a $50,000 matching grant generously offered by the Joanne Woodward Trust, Clea Newman Soderlund and the August A. Busch III Charitable Trust. Every dollar donated through the end of the year will be matched up to $50,000. This challenge grant marks a milestone for the Endangered Wolf Center as the largest in our history. As an organization that has experienced tremendous growth in the past three years, this grant symbolizes the faith that our stakeholders have in the continued success of the Center. (Update: The challenge grant was met.)

While our mission has always remained the same – to breed, reintroduce and educate – the educational component has become much more important in our fast-changing society. The Center has expanded all aspects of our education programming – tours, field trips, outreach, scout groups, distance learning and camp experiences – to focus on affecting change quickly. This increased effort ties in very nicely to what scientists and researchers already know as invaluable access to the outdoors and nature play. The benefits are boundless – increased focus in schoolwork, decrease in depression-related illnesses, increase in self esteem, overall sense of happiness, better conflict resolution and the list goes on. (Here are links to two insightful studies: Does Nature Make Us Happy? American Institutes for Research 2005 study.)

The Center is dedicated to continuing to expand our educational programing to all urban areas of St. Louis where nature relatedness is much needed. A large project we are focused on for 2017 is adding a new education/multipurpose building. This building will allow us to accommodate hundreds of programs and reach many more children in the metropolitan area. I invite you, our longstanding supporters, to contribute to our challenge grant. Year-end donations will support the operational cost of the Center and allow our staff to focus on raising the final funds to support a new educational building.

I wish each and every one of you a joyous and fulfilling Holiday Season. Thank you for your continued support of our great mission.

Virginia Busch
Executive Director