Sharon Schmalz – Executive Director
Sharon Schmalz is executive director of the Wildlife Center of Texas in Houston, Texas. The Wildlife Center cares for approximately 9000 wild animals each year and educates over 10,000 adults and children about wildlife, conservation and the environment.
The Wildlife Center works closely with the Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine professors and students. Ms. Schmalz is the representative for the Wildlife Center of Texas on the advisory council for the Texas State Animal Resource Team (TXSART), a program of the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation that coordinates preparedness, response and recovery efforts for animals affected by disasters in the state of Texas.
For 29 years, Ms. Schmalz has maintained the multiple state and federal permits necessary to care for injured, orphaned, endangered, educational and oiled wildlife. A founding member of the Wildlife Center of Texas Oiled Wildlife Response Team, she has acted as the director for 25 years. The team responds to oiled wildlife in both inland and coastal areas of the Gulf Coast.
Ms. Schmalz is 40 hr. HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) certified and ICS (Incident Command System) trained to care for oil-contaminated wildlife. She maintains a TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Card) card to allow for the collection of oiled wildlife in locations sensitive to Homeland Security such as ship channels and ports.
She was involved in the development of the “Best Practices for Migratory Bird Care During Oil Spill Response” document in Anchorage, Alaska in 2001. For 11 years, Ms. Schmalz has coordinated oiled wildlife response workshops for the Texas General Land Office and for industry and maintained the resulting database of potential volunteers for response.
Margaret Pickell – Operations Manager
Margaret Pickell is one of the Operations Managers at the Wildlife Center of Texas in Houston. She is responsible for the training and coordination of over 500 volunteers. The center takes in over 9000 animals a year where Margaret oversees their feeding, medications and housing needs.
Margaret has been a state and federally permitted wildlife rehabilitator for 27 years. She specializes in birds with an emphasis on water birds, songbirds and raptors.
She has been a certified Texas Master Naturalist for over 12 years.
For the past twenty years, Margaret has combined her respect for wildlife along with her passion to educate thousands of children on the subject of environmental education.
Debbie Mitchell – Operations Manager
Debbie Mitchell is one of the Operations Managers at the Wildlife Center of Texas in Houston. She is responsible for the purchase and distribution of all food, supplies and medications necessary to run a rehabilitation facility of this size. She also oversees the feeding, medications and housing needs of the over 9000 animals that come through the door each year.
Debbie has been a state and federally permitted rehabilitator for 13 years and has been on the oiled wildlife response team for 10 years. She has completed the 24 hour HAZWOPER training and ICS 100,200,300,400, 700 and 800. She has a TWIC card.
Debbie is an integral member of the Oiled Wildlife Response workshop instructors and attends the Clean Gulf Conferences.
Natalie Johnson – Wildlife Rehabilitation Staff
Natalie has been involved at the Wildlife Center of Texas since January of 2012. Natalie started at the Wildlife Center of Texas as a volunteer, and loved the work so much that she volunteered regularly several times a week. The WCT always needs extra help from spring until early fall, and Natalie was employed on a temporary basis during the summer of 2012 to assist with animal intakes from the public. Then in January of 2013, Natalie was became a full-time employee at the Wildlife Center of Texas.
Natalie is a life-long animal lover, though previous to her work at the Wildlife Center of Texas, her experience only extended to cats and dogs. She graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M University in 2010 with a degree in Biology and a minor in Music. She is currently attending University of Houston – Victoria to get a master’s degree in Computer Information Systems.
Natalie’s favorite aspects of working at the Wildlife Center of Texas are the help the center is able to give the injured animals and educating the public. She hopes especially that through education, the world will be converted to a more respectful attitude towards the wildlife whose home they share (and a better appreciation of opossums).
Anni Ranck – Wildlife Rehabilitation Staff
Anni Ranck is one of only 3 full time staff members at the Wildlife Center of Texas. She has been working with wildlife for over 6 years and brings a lot of variety to the wildlife center.
She pursued her degree in organismal biology and graduated with a Bachelors of Science in wildlife biology and management. She has worked previously at Reelfoot Lake state park, The National Tiger Sanctuary, Walden’s Puddle Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center, The National Park Service, The International Exotic Animal Sanctuary, The Houston SPCA, and now the Wildlife Center of Texas.
Anni is involved with education and outreach programs, volunteer coordination, Facebook publications, and of course, medical and supportive animal care. Anni initially came to the WCT by way of an internship program funded through ExxonMobil which included courses in networking, etiquette, and solving problems non-profits frequently face. She was then asked back for a full time position and uses all that she learned in her internship everyday here at the Wildlife Center of Texas.
Sheryl Rogers has been closely involved with wildlife rehabilitation for over 12 years and has been fully permitted at the federal and state level for over 7 years. She attends continuing education conferences to keep on the cutting edge of wildlife care and rehabilitation best practices.
One of the Wildlife Center’s most dedicated volunteers, Sheryl routinely takes full responsibility for the operation of the Wildlife Center during her shift.
Sheryl helps with Oil Spill Workshops several times a year and assumes management of the Wildlife Center when oil spills require the entire Oil Spill Response Team.