Think Wild Receives Oregon Community Foundation K-12 Summer Learning Fund Grant

June 8, 2021


Bend, Ore. – Think Wild, Bend Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center, announced today that it has been awarded a $40,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) K-12 Summer Learning Fund. This funding supports the work Think Wild has under way to empower students to become environmental stewards in Central Oregon through accessible wildlife education and volunteer programs.

“Educating future generations on wildlife habitat conservation, coexistence, and conflict prevention is more important than ever,” said Sally Compton, Think Wild Executive Director. “Rapid urban growth in Central Oregon is displacing the communities - both human and wildlife - that have long called this region home. By providing accessible, equitable opportunities for hands-on local environmental education, Think Wild hopes to inspire future stewards of this beautiful, biodiverse place we call home and all beings who live here.”

Think Wild’s 2021 summer youth education program includes in-person learning and volunteering onsite at the Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center in Bend and offsite at school campuses, parks and public lands. Curriculum offerings meet Next Generation Science Standards and include pollinator gardening, nest box workshops, river ecology labs, animal studies, and habitat restoration.

An important component of this grant funding is increased accessibility and inclusivity of Think Wild’s existing education programs. This includes program fee waivers, expanded offsite offerings, free transportation, and content translation and interpretation. Think Wild encourages teachers, schools, youth organizations and families in Deschutes, Crooks, Jefferson and Lake Counties, especially those with limited resources, to reach out to Think Wild’s education program coordinator, Ginger Berryman, at or (541) 316-8294.

OCF is focused on addressing the opportunity gap in K-12 education by reducing socioeconomic, geographic and racial inequities in student success. Through this one-time grant program, funded by the State of Oregon, OCF plans to award $40 million for school-aged children to participate in community-based learning, enrichment, and recreation programs offered through non-profits and public agencies across the state during summer 2021. Priority will be placed on programs that specifically support students experiencing the opportunity gap and from communities disproportionately impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic and related crises.

Think Wild is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and tax-deductible donations can be made at Think Wild’s mission is to inspire the High Desert community to care for and protect native wildlife through education, conservation, and rehabilitation. If you ever have any questions, Think Wild’s wildlife hotline, (541) 241-8680, is available seven days a week from 8 AM to 5 PM.


Watch KTVZ's feature of Think Wild throwing a pumpkin party for our orphaned raccoons

Aired on 10/1/2020

Click to watch

See Think Wild's feature on KATU News in Portland about how to help wildlife in wildfires

Click to watch

How to Help Animals in Oregon’s Wildfires

News Release – September 15, 2020

For Immediate Release

Note to the press: Photos and video are available at: Please credit Think Wild Central Oregon unless otherwise noted.

Bend, Oregon— In Central Oregon, the Air Quality Index has been rated “Hazardous” for almost a week. While fires continue to spread throughout our state, stealing lives and property, Oregonians have come together to provide shelter and supplies for humans, pets and livestock affected. But for Think Wild, a wildlife hospital and conservation center, in Bend, Oregon, the major questions have been – how is Oregon’s wildlife affected and how can we help?

Fortunately, Oregon’s native species are adapted to reacting to fires. That doesn't mean that many won't suffer or lose their lives. The fires will cause immediate habitat loss and potential die-offs, and they will change ecosystem structure for years to come. Some species that depend on mature forests - tree cavity-nesting owls, for example - may experience population reductions while those that thrive in young forests, like songbirds and burrowing mammals, may increase.

In the short term, with the severity and scale of the current wildfires, wildlife may be more likely to enter urban areas and exhibit unusual behavior while fleeing the smoke and fire over the next few weeks. They will also be in search of food resources, which will be significantly depleted in the immediate aftermath of the fire. Long term, Think Wild expects an increase in orphaned, injured, and especially starving wildlife.

“Wildlife are going to be terrified and may be traveling through your property fleeing fire and looking for food and water,” said Pauline Baker, Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation at Think Wild. “Do not panic or approach these animals but monitor at a safe distance. If you are concerned about an injury, please contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center.”

While wildlife hospitals across Oregon are not currently being inundated with wildfire-specific calls – we expect cases to significantly increase as ecosystem changes take effect and as people enter back into affected areas and are more likely to come across wildlife in need of help.

Here are tangible ways that you can help native wildlife and your local wildlife hospitals:

  • Do not leave food out or feed wildlife. If you have a bird feeder, clean it often. You can leave water out away from your house as long as you change it often.
  • Keep dogs and cats indoors as much as possible during times of hazardous air quality. This will protect them and also prevent cat and dog-caught related injuries to small animals and babies that may be moving about or seeking refuge.
  • Make sure water features on your property, such as irrigation ponds, provide an exit strategy for wildlife to climb out. Rocks, rope and logs are helpful additions to prevent wildlife from drowning.
  • Do not approach wildlife. Call your local wildlife hospital if you find injured or orphaned wildlife or if you see wildlife behaving strangely and are uncertain of how to proceed.
  • If you find an animal that has been burnt and are waiting to get in contact with a wildlife hospital or vet, do not feed it. Wrap it loosely in 100% cotton and place it in a well-ventilated box in a dark and quiet place.
  • Your local wildlife hospital could always use more donations and supplies. Most wildlife hospitals (including Think Wild) receive little to no government funding and rely on individual in-kind and cash donations. Hosting a fundraiser for your local wildlife hospital at your business, through social media, in your network is a great way to show support.
  • Support organizations doing important habitat and water conservation restoration work. Examples in Central Oregon include Oregon Wildlife Foundation, Deschutes River Conservancy, watershed councils, Coalition for the Deschutes, Oregon Natural Desert Association, and many more.
  • Be conscious of your water usage. Try to minimize water use, especially during droughts, the hot, dry summer months and wildfire season.
  • Pay attention to burning restrictions, especially when traveling to another location. Stay educated on potential fire hazards - small, contained fires can become disastrous very quickly.

This list is non-exhaustive, but we hope that you find it helpful. If you ever have any questions, Think Wild’s wildlife hotline, (541) 241-8680, is available seven days a week from 8 AM to 5 PM. Think Wild is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and tax-deductible donations can be made at or mailed to PO Box 5093 Bend, OR 97708.


Think Wild, a Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center, provides wildlife education, conservation, and rescue & rehabilitation in Central Oregon. Think Wild seeks to reduce the incidents of human-wildlife conflict through prevention education and community outreach. When conflicts do occur, Think Wild will provide veterinary treatment and care at its Wildlife Hospital. For more information or to donate, visit or email Follow us on for the latest updates.



Think Wild is excited to share that we recently welcomed our new
Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation, Pauline Baker, on board! 

Pauline will lead the Think Wild Wildlife Hospital upon opening and is currently working hard on planning for wildlife enclosure construction, animal care protocols and permitting.

Pauline joins Think Wild from Wildlife Center of the North Coast in Astoria Oregon, where she spent the past few years leading wildlife rehabilitation. Prior to that, she worked as a wildlife technician in Southern California after graduating from Oregon State University with a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences. A Pacific Northwest native, Pauline has always been passionate about the natural world and the integral part humans play in it.

A Message from the Think Wild Board

Dear Wildlife Friends,

Thank you all for your enduring support of Think Wild in 2019. Because of your help, we spent 75 hours providing educational programs to over 500 students in Central Oregon on topics ranging from pollinator gardens to native bird migration. We welcomed over 1,000 attendees to 15 events for fundraising, conservation outreach and community engagement. And thanks to generous donations of time, funds and equipment, we finished the construction of the Think Wild Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center.

But we are just getting started. With the start of 2020, are excited to announce that Think Wild welcomed a new Executive Director, Sally Compton, to our team. Sally will lead Think Wild into its next phase of the wildlife hospital opening this year, as well as operations, community outreach, education, conservation, and key relationship and partnership initiatives.

Sally joins Think Wild with previous experience from the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Her diverse background in wildlife biology, conservation outreach and communications and marketing will guide Think Wild's growth as a much-needed resource for wildlife education, conservation and rehabilitation/rescue in Central Oregon.

Please join us in welcoming Sally in her new role as Executive Director.  If you have questions or comments as we plan for the coming opening of our wildlife hospital, please let us know. We remain committed to our mission to inspire the High Desert community to care for and protect wildlife, and we look forward to this exciting new year with our community, friends and partners by our side.

- With kind regards, the Think Wild Board

Think Wild prepares to start taking in creatures at its rehab facility
By Jim Anderson, The Source Weekly

On a Saturday and Sunday afternoon in July, the brand-new wildlife rehabilitation facility, Think Wild, east of Bend, created a traffic jam with its open house. A lot of people from Bend, Tumalo, LaPine, Sisters and Redmond came out to check out what Think Wild was all about.
So, here's the skinny. The facility once housed another wildlife rehab facility that went belly-up. Think Wild is an entirely new organization, sort of like the Phoenix rising from the ashes. It has a board of directors made up of local people who have diverse professional backgrounds and experiences...
Click here to read more

Bend, Ore. - After two years of planning, local wildlife conservation and education nonprofit Think Wild is starting construction on its Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center in Bend, Oregon. The organization expects the new facility to care for up to 250 patients (mammals, waterfowl and raptors) from around Central and Eastern Oregon in its first year....
Click to view KTVZ New's coverage  March 21, 2019

Local  students learn about the importance of wildlife corridors
by Jim Anderson, The Source Weekly
Bend, Ore. -  I get invited to lots of places to speak, but my favorite locations are schools. The bright young minds of kids who ask great questions keep me young, despite my 91 years. A recent Monday morning, found me in the classroom of Anne-Marie Eklund at Cascades Academy in Tumalo. We were joined by Michelle van Hilten, program administrator of Think Wild. The topic of discussion: Human/wildlife interaction—Think Wild's primary area of interest......
Click here to read more. November 29, 2018

by Peter Madsen, The Bend Bulletin

Bend, Ore. - Since age 4, Payton Johnston has been devoted to wildlife rescue.Her compassion started when her mother, Amanda Johnston, taught her to care for birds that flew into their home’s windows in La Pine.  Now 12, Payton not only helps her mother with wildlife rescues, including animals entangled in fences and struck by cars, but she also writes regular preventive blog posts on the website of Think Wild, a nonprofit wildlife rescue center opening in spring 2019....
Click here to read more. September 28, 2018


Bend, Ore. - With much excitement, Think Wild welcomes Michelle van Hilten as its first full-time staff person to execute on the organization's mission and strategic objectives to educate Central Oregon citizens on the prevention of wildlife conflicts and the conservation of wildlife habitats.  August 8, 2018

Bend, Ore. - After a 4 month review and petition process with Deschutes County, Think Wild has received notice of the County's decision to grant a conditional use permit for 62410 Erickson Road to operate as a wildlife rescue & rehabilitation facility in a MUA-10 zone.  July 2, 2018

Long time volunteer and serious wildlife lover and hero, 11 year old Payton J. has started sharing monthly wildlife tips and advice for young and old.  May 15, 2018

Bend, Ore. - Leaders of Think Wild, a non-profit organization providing wildlife education and Wildlife Hotline services in Central Oregon, recently announced they have received a $325,000 funding commitment toward building a native wildlife hospital and full-time Wildlife Hotline and education in Bend. The lead gift comes from the Otter Cove Foundation, through a local resident who prefers to remain anonymous.

The lead gift from the Otter Cover Foundation also comes with a challenge to raise an additional $325,000 in order to establish three years of operating support for the new facility. Friends and supporters of wildlife gathered Thursday to plan a Think Wild Founders Circle in order to meet the $325,000 challenge. The event was attended by a number of wildlife professionals who endorsed the Think Wild plan and expressed their support.

At the event, local wildlife rehabilitator Gary Landers spoke to the unique and needed role Think Wild can play in coordinating the region's response to injured wildlife. “Our goal for Central Oregon wildlife rehabilitation is to have a central place where 7 days a week, 365 days a year the public can call and get help for injured wildlife,” he said. “Think Wild can fill a need in our community by creating a hub and fostering the cooperative spirit of rehabilitators for the benefit of wildlife.”

Think Wild’s leaders are currently working on designing, planning and building a facility with space to coordinate care for injured and orphaned native birds and mammals in partnership with the regional area wildlife rehabilitators. Early plans for Think Wild also include a full-time Wildlife Hotline and community outreach campaign focused on conflict prevention, allowing Think Wild to fulfill its vision to provide a voice for Central Oregon’s native wildlife.

“We are excited by the opportunity given by our lead donor to pursue the goal of building a wildlife hospital,” said Reese Mercer, Think Wild Board Member who is leading formation of the Founders Circle. “We look forward to working with others to make this dream a reality.”

To learn more about Think Wild’s plans for the future visit You can also visit Think Wild on Facebook at, with additional information at Those interested in becoming part of the Think Wild Founder's Circle are encouraged to Think Wild at

Important News about Think Wild!
Think Wild is in early conversations about building a Wildlife Hospital and Education Center. This facility would provide:
- A wildlife hospital to treat and rehabilitate native birds and mammals
- A voice for native wildlife to strengthen advocacy for conservation
- An education center to teach and inspire the public to live respectfully with urban wildlife
Currently, there is no wildlife hospital providing treatment and rehabilitation of native species in Central Oregon. As the human population in Central Oregon continues to grow, conflict with wildlife will become more and more common.

As an enduring organization, Think Wild will create a central resource that provides a lasting and substantial impact on wildlife care. Think Wild will partner with local individual rehabbers to leverage expertise, coordinate resources, and fill gaps for wildlife care in perpetuity.

Contributors to the Think Wild Founders Circle have committed or pledged a minimum of $5,000 over three years, and we are making strong progress in reaching the threshold for being able to launch within the next 12 months. We look forward to sharing news about our fundraising progress on this page.