Nancy jo Tubbs
Chair, Board of Directors
Our new Executive Director Grant Spickelmier walked into his job at the International Wolf Center in January of a year that would bring six feet of snow to our Ely, MN Center.
It was also a year in which we would first face the challenges of COVID-19 and close the Center for three months. We felt a shock to the system when education programs including Wolves at our Door, pup-care training and overnight programs were cancelled.
Grant and the staff in Ely and Minneapolis rose to the occasion with remarkable flexibility and persistence. After the Center closed, staff switched from in-person educational programs to on-line offerings. Fees for online WolfLink programs to schools were eliminated or reduced. Biologist webinars, updates on our wolf pack, Q & A sessions with kids, Storytime, and craft activities led to an increase of 12,000 more page views on wolf.org by June.
Finances were complex, but masks were a big seller in our online Wolf Den store, the Center received two federal PPP loans, an IRRRB grant of $15,000 and donors stepped up to keep our adjusted budget in the black. Our traditional Gala gathering was cancelled, but donors came through for an online event and annual GiveMN contributions.
Oversight by the Board of Directors helped guide operations, including a new partnership with Explore.org whose cameras broadcast the activities of our ambassador wolves online with the Center’s moderators answering viewer’s questions. A new task force was formed to help guide staff and board in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. Our 21 board members donated a total of 1,872 hours during the year.
Yellowstone wildlife interpretive guide Taylor Bland and Lake Elmo City Councilmember Lisa McGinn joined the Board of Directors in 2020. New Development Director Hilary Smith came on staff. Long-range planning took off with the 2022 symposium in our sights and the complex arrangements to bring a new pup into the pack in 2021. With a strong staff and board the International Wolf Center was ready for whatever might come next.