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Throughout his long career at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, Mike Reed ’75 worked to provide the community with the right educational tools for conservation.

Conservation Champion Hangs Up Ranger Uniform After 35 Years

It may be safe to say Mike Reed ’75 found his calling. A champion of environmental conservation awareness, Reed found his place at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, a 600-acre urban wildlife refuge in Green Bay where he rehabilitated animals and created educational programs for the community.

“The most memorable part of my work is when you get a family who comes in with an injured or orphaned animal. They look to you for help, and that level of trust and confidence is incredibly meaningful,” Reed says. “I’ve always been passionate about developing what I call the great environmental family project. Coming here, I was able to impact so many families in a positive way.”

Reed recently retired after working there for nearly 35 years, watching the Wildlife Sanctuary grow from seven volunteers to 80 who are trained to help rehabilitate injured or orphaned animals. He served as director since 2011.

He says a stronger relationship with the community is one of the most significant changes he’s witnessed during his time with the sanctuary. “Providing the right educational tools sends the message that conservation is important, and valuing habitat preservation is a gift for the next generation,” he adds.

Providing those tools for conservation awareness was at the heart of Reed’s career. He helped develop the Rehabilitation Program at the Wildlife Sanctuary (R-PAWS) by training volunteers to properly care for and release injured animals back into their natural habitats, and he created a 4-year-old kindergarten program, a partnership with the Green Bay school district, that promoted an early love of nature.

“It turned out to be the right idea, at the right time,” he says. “We modeled the program after Forest Schools in Europe, where children are offered a hands-on outdoor learning experience while still getting all of the basics they’d get in a more traditional setting.”

Though he’s hung up his ranger uniform, Reed is leaving a lasting legacy at the Wildlife Sanctuary with the Dick Resch & Family Nature & Conservation Center, a $3.2 million project that will serve as the home of the newly expanded 4K program as well as a meeting space that can accommodate major events.

With the project nearing completion, Reed knew it was time to call it a career. “I looked at my wife, and we decided it was the right time. Future generations will enjoy this place for years to come,” he says.

As he transitions into retirement, Reed will continue working with the fundraising efforts of Friends of the Wildlife Sanctuary (FOWLS) and is considering consultation work for organizations that would like to start similar programs to those at the Wildlife Sanctuary. “I’ve always tried to help those that ask, so we’ll see what happens,” he says.

Oct. 22, 2019