The board of directors has been hard at work this spring and summer planning a future wolf center for Southern Vermont. What’s a wolf center, you say? Glad you asked! It’s a refuge for captive wolves — ambassadors for wild wolves — that can teach more in a simple gaze or a distant howl than any book or presentation. We want to create a spacious home for a handful of captive wolves to be the capstone of our educational programs — both traveling and on-site. Our programs on myth, lore and our science-based presentations will complement the wolf center.
We’ve recently finished a feasibility and cost report for this center, and we look forward to sharing more with you as embark on this new chapter for Wolfgard. We’re hoping to share a lot more in September in October!
In the meantime, we’ve got an upcoming program at the Dover Free Library (very soon — Saturday August 6th at 12:30), please join us for the discussion-based program “The Wild Within, Understanding the Wolf in Human Culture.” It’s a great place to ask any questions you have about wolf stories or jump into a dialogue about wolves in the Northeast.
We’ll also be at the Southern Vermont Wildlife Festival in September — more information upcoming about that event.
Want a Wolfgard Northeast program at your school, library, or an outdoor-based program? Get in touch! Starting in October (and in a limited capacity in September) we are available to come teach, tell stories, and get our paws dirty out in the woods.
Please welcome the newest member of the Wolfgard pack, Kimberly! She joined our Board of Directors this January. To read more about our board, head over here to check out our stories!
Kimberly Galandak-O’Connor, Director
We as humans have been disconnecting ourselves from the natural world for quite some time. We have lost our understanding of the value of nature and how she works. We continuously try to manage the environment, tame what is wild and smooth away what we see as the rough edges instead of allowing nature to divine and take its own course. Because of this detachment and lack of familiarity with the wonders and abundance of nature we have become fearful and, in many instances transferred this fear to our children. As an educator and naturalist I work hard to ease fears of both young and old and introduce those I teach to the myriad wonders of the natural world. I am grateful beyond words that I am a part of Wolfgard because of the work we do to reconnect people to nature and the lessons we teach them about wolves. Wolves are such intelligent beings that should be respected but not feared. One of my favorite quotes is by Albert Einstein, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Kimberly has loved nature from an early age; exploring, investigating and playing in the woods near her home in rural Maryland. As an adult, this love for the natural world transcribed into a desire to leave the corporate world to work in environmental education with non-profits. Currently she works as the Director of Education at the Nature Museum of Grafton and as a committee member for the Herricks Cove Festival. Kimberly holds a Liberal Arts degree with a concentration in Environmental Studies from Neumann University and Masters degree in Non Profit Management from Eastern University.
We’re excited to collaborate with The Nature Museum in Grafton, VT to bring you “The Eyes of a Wolf” on April the 2nd! It’s a great opportunity to see two Wolfgard programs back-to-back. Check out our program calendar for more details.
Also, coming up on the first Sunday in May, Wolfgard will be at the Herricks Cove Wildlife Festival — so please stop by our table while visiting all of the other excellent organizations at the event! This will be Wolfgard’s second year. It’s a lot of fun!
And, thank you to everyone who came to our lecture last Wednesday (March 2nd) at the University of Vermont. We gave a talk entitled, “The Secret Life of Predators: How They Change Ecosystems.”
Thank you to all who have helped Wolfgard germinate in its first year. Your energy, passion, financial support, and encouragement has sprouted the seed.
After four seasons, we’ve developed an ambitious vision, gained recognition as a federal nonprofit, and tested our first programs. Hearing a strong call for live wolf education, Wolfgard’s core team is focusing on a strategy to bring a wolf center to Southern Vermont — a home for captive wolves, and a refuge for those who seek to learn.
So for this day, we offer our gratitude to you and all we’ve been able to accomplish with your support. We look forward to sharing our ongoing journey with you: Wolfgard’s pack.
The boundary between human and other species is particularly hazy in myth. This mysterious, liminal place hasn’t disappeared in the present day. Wolves feature prominently in this border-land with plenty of tales (and tails) of all sorts of human-canine mixtures. Perhaps the most recognizable to modern, western audiences is the werewolf: half-man, half-wolf, transforms during the full moon.
But modern werewolves, in their many variations, come from arguably more diverse origins. Many cultures have their own wolfy shapeshifters, land-spirits, and other, sometimes nameless creatures. Some are malicious and ravenous, some are warriors, some collect gifts to bring to the underworld… and some, incidentally, like to eat fish.
The story of Wulver – benevolent, fish-loving wolf-men comes from the Shetland Islands – a part of Scotland over 100 miles north of the UK. Fishing, of course, is an important part of human life on these islands – and apparently it’s also important to the spirits who live there, too.
According to Shetland Traditional Lore by Jessie Saxby,
“The Wulver was a creature like a man with a wolf’s head. He had short brown hair all over him. His home was a cave dug out of the side of a steep knowe, half-way up a hill. He didn’t molest folk if folk didn’t molest him. He was fond of fishing, and had a small rock in the deep water which is known to this day as the “Wulver’s Stane”. There he would sit fishing sillaks and piltaks for hour after hour.”
Definitely not your traditional “werewolf.” As described by Saxby, Wulver didn’t appear to be shapeshifters; neither human nor wolf, but something in-between, these creatures were content with a quiet life of fishing out in the sea. As for my earlier description of “benevolent,” the wulver were “reported to have frequently left a few fish on the window-sill of some poor body.”
I don’t anticipate the next box-office thriller to feature these mellow wolf creatures, but there’s no reason to let them drift away from our memory. Too often we associate wolves of myth and history with words like “evil,” “voracious,” or “gruesome,” when really, the relationship between wolves and humans is far more complicated (and sometimes, much more charitable). The least we can do is tell their story – and maybe keep an eye out for a wandering wolf spirit. According to the Daily Record in the U.K., “It’s been 100 years since the last sighting.” But if I were poor and hungry in Shetland, I might just leave my window open.
It’s far from the lesson we’ve learned from some modern werewolf tales (where locked doors may not save you from their rage). What’s worse, the same demonization has been given to the less mysterious, standard four-legged variety of Canis lupus that lives and breathes on the North American landscape. Let’s take a lesson in generosity and patience from the Wulver instead, and become better creatures ourselves – for the sake of humans, wolves, and everything in-between.
Shetland Traditional Lore, 1932, Jessie Saxby
“Monsters from Scottish Folklore Brought Back to Life,” 2008, Daily Record. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/monsters-from-scottish-folklore-brought-back-970798
Lots of changes have come to the Wolfgard website, and we’re speeding along with our development (you can check out what’s up over here).
The most exciting news, however, is that we’ve posted our program offerings for 2015! With the website redesign, you can find our programs under the “Education” drop-down menu. We’re currently offering three programs:Wolf, Dog, Human… What’s the Difference?, The Wild Within: Understanding the Wolf in Human Culture, and Beyond Human: Experiencing Wildness.
Each of these programs explores a different facet of our understanding of the wolf: one through behavior and biology; one through human culture, folktales, and mythology; and one through a ceremonial experience and storytelling.
If you’d like to request a program, there’s even a page for it! In fact, we’ve already begun running programs here in Vermont.
Invite us to your classroom, museum, organization, or backyard to talk about the differences between domestic dogs and wolves, discuss why the Three Little Pigs is only a snapshot of the vast amount of wolf folklore, or go deep into a ceremony that explores the very old traditions of shapeshifting.
We hope to see you soon!
(The image is L. Leslie Brooke’s 1904 illustration from the classic Three Little Pigs. Despite the deviously ravenous nature of the wolf in the original story, it’s a beautiful illustration and a part of the wolf’s history in human culture. It’s important to recognize not all folk tales and myths depict the wolf so villainously. However, for a modern, fun, and wolf-friendly adaptation, check out The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.)
The final post focusing on our Board of Directors, the following is Adam Katrick’s story. If you missed some of the earlier posts – no worries – you can read them all over on The People page!
Adam Katrick, President and Founder
I first explored my love of wolves through biology, but was soon lured into more fields – becoming enchanted with stories and myths. Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat stood out to me, not only in his storytelling, but in his conclusion that he, himself, had created a personal division between human and wolf. It challenged me to think deeply about the relationship between humans and wolves – how culture has divided two species that are so similar, and both of which carry so much wisdom. The first time I saw a wolf face-to-face — felt the brush of its whiskers and the intense, purposeful gaze of its amber eyes — it was a threshold from which I could not turn back. I am driven to learn and teach about wolves in every dimension; to reveal and heal broken bonds and show that respect of the wolf not only conserves our ecosystems, but also ties humans to our wild ancestry.
In these ways, wolves are in my marrow; an intrinsic part of me and my life.”
Adam has a life-long passion for wolves. An alumnus of Marlboro College, his undergraduate thesis centered on wolf hunting behavior, wolves in literature, and fiction writing – blending multiple fields to explore a diverse picture of this predator. Much of this learning coalesced during a summer of work at Mission:Wolf in Colorado, a wolf refuge that focuses on education and sustainability. He is a member of the Northeast Wolf Coalition, and has been actively involved in bringing wolf education to Southern Vermont. Adam brings a diversity of skills to Wolfgard, from storytelling to facilitating outdoor, experiential education to non-profit management. This diversity comes from the many “hats” he has worn — carpenter, artist, outdoorsman, volunteer EMT, and many others. He is currently in the Marlboro College Graduate program for Management of Mission-Driven Organizations, and is devoted to making a wolf refuge in Vermont a reality.
Continuing to focus on our Board of Directors, the following is Allison Turner’s story. We will be posting one story every week for the next few weeks! If you can’t wait and want to read all of our Director’s stories, head over to “The People” page.
Allison Turner, Treasurer
Ms. Turner most recently served eight years as a Board Member with Rescue Inc. Ambulance Service located in Brattleboro VT, where she held the position of Vice President for several years and chaired their Development Committee. In addition to serving on several other Boards and Board committees, her experience includes a number of years as a worker-owner Board Member for Bookpeople, a distributor of 15,000 book titles from primarily small independent publishers formerly in California. Ms. Turner has a Masters and a Ph.D. in Pharmacognosy and teaches biology and chemistry laboratory classes at Marlboro College in Vermont. She thinks wolves are the bee’s knees, and is very excited to help this organization fulfill its wildest dreams.
Continuing to focus on our Board of Directors, the following is Michael Clough’s story. We will be posting one story every week for the next few weeks! If you can’t wait and want to read all of our Director’s stories, head over to “The People” page.
I was interested in predators and wolves in particular for most of my life. With some great wolf experiences in Minnesota’s Chippewa Forest and working with captive wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center, it is a trip to Yellowstone Park that stands out. We were attending a week-long course on Yellowstone’s predators through the Yellowstone Institute. The scheduled program leader had backed out at the last minute and was replaced by Rolf Peterson of Isle Royale fame. In addition to hanging out with one of the top wolf guys of his generation, we also had the opportunity to observe wolves every day. Half-grown pups at play, rallying howls and most memorable, a large pack of wolves surrounding a bison, that stood his ground and backed them off. Over a dozen wolves took turns testing the big herbivore who stomped his feet and shook his horns as if to say “Bring it on!” After fifteen minutes of sparring, the wolves moved off to pursue a herd of elk further down the valley and the bison returned to his grazing. It was a thrilling encounter that has etched itself in my mind and illustrates the challenges faced by our wild predators.”
Michael is a native Vermonter with a life-long interest in the outdoors and wildlife. Currently he is the Assistant Director at the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum and also works as a Trainer/Naturalist for Four Winds Nature Institute among other nature and education related jobs and board positions. He has a background in alternative and supplemental education with a special focus on the use of live animals and experiential learning. Mike graduated from Long Island University with a degree in Environmental Science/Biology and has worked at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, The Raptor Project, the Putnam/North Westchester BOCES Outdoor Education Program, New York’s Wolf Conservation Center and operates his own outdoor education and consulting business, Rockhopper Outdoor Education.
I have an incredibly exciting announcement for the Wolfgard audience: we have a brand new logo! Our current logo (the one adorning the front page since the site was created) was meant to be temporary while we worked on developing a logo that matched the character and mission of our organization. Thanks to the hard work of our graphic designer, we were able to use the logo for the first time at the Herricks Cove Wildlife Festival, and now, it’s finally online!
Many thanks to the designer, A. Follansbee, who took a lot of vague thoughts and musings from Adam and turned them into something beautiful. Please check out more of his work here: http://luthrai.daportfolio.com/
We’re very excited to have an image to go along with our name and mission — a picture that is reminiscent of both mythological wolves and modern scientific thought. Let’s not overlook the hint of a crescent moon. Do you see it, too?
Associations between wolves and the moon are unavoidable in reading and listening to wolf stories. While there is the popular connection between werewolves and transformation during the full moon, there’s an even deeper history. Just as one example, in Norse Mythology, the giant wolf Hati chases the moon, Mani, around the world (his brother, Skoll, chases the sun). The connection between wolf and the moon, with such rich cultural history, made it’s inevitable (yet subtle) appearance in our logo.
Three cheers to the designer, and we hope you enjoy the new face of Wolfgard!