No Rest for Wildcat
While the rest of the country saw an incredible slow (if not complete stop) in business, the outdoor-nature-loving program organizations saw a fantastic, unprecedented up-swing in patronage. We received ten times the volume of phone calls, requests for information, and requests to use our facilities.
Programs didn't exactly stop. They morphed into multiple programs. Wildcat held smaller, in-person classes while hosting multiple virtual classes on the same topic. We posted resources on our social media platforms but kept in mind that not everyone could print their nature project. To serve the entire community, we published the info. We posted them in public places in the park to minimize exposure to the virus.
Radio hosts reached out for hour interviews based on the topic of the month. Television reporters sought anything not related to the pandemic that was positive. Wildcat nature preserve provided a safe, small escape from the drama and trauma of 2020.
Supply Needs Increased
Replacing doggy-doo bags and picking up trash became a three-times-a-week task compared to the old normal of once every two weeks. The need for these supplies continued to grow and haven't slowed.
Sadly & irritatingly, graffiti increased in the park as well. This meant it became necessary to train more volunteers, supply more environmentally safe removal methods, and much more organization. To keep volunteers socially distanced, we added steps to training and getting supplies, using the supplies, and returning them.
Funds Became Scarce
To make matters more strenuous, many of the sources we depended upon to fund these supplies were diverted to serve urgent community needs.
Wildcat believes in diverse funding streams. One of the streams includes The Nature Store's operation inside the Shoal Creek Conservation & Education Center. The government guidelines closed the Center. This meant no income from The Nature Store.
Fundraisers were also put on hold and eventually canceled. People didn't really want to "party" while so many were hurting. It was not responsible or safe to host fundraising events.
Our Dreams Were Not Postponed
We did receive funding from Missouri American Water in 2019 to build a modest education building. We had just begun the construction only to have it halted in March. But that didn't stop Wildcat. We found creative ways to keep the dream alive, expand both the vision and the building, and build both.
This is where we need your donations. We need to continue moving forward. Contributing to general operating funds is not sexy. But, Wildcat general operating funds pay for necessary equipment and supplies. Wildcat general operating funds provide educational tools for kids of all ages. Wildcat funds train and support the volunteers who are responsible for the bulk of work in the park.
Wildcat has been there for our community throughout 2020 and will continue to find new ways to connect people with nature. Last year was a challenge, and the beginning of 2021 seems to look just like 2020, only with bangs. But, with the help of our supporters, Wildcat will live many more years supplying quality conservation education, habitat restoration, and a beautiful space for outdoor recreation.