A year in review, and a call to action!
Last month, we started our first ever holiday membership drive calling on YOU to commit to a sustaining membership to help support our mission to advance the protection of rattlesnakes, and their habitat, through research and education. Since then, we've added annual options that make it easier than ever to become a member and have almost reached our goal of gaining 50 new members before the end of the year. With only two days left in the drive, and only seven memberships to reaching that goal, we are closer than ever- but we need your help!
For as little as $5 per month you can support rattlesnake conservation in a meaningful way while scoring some pretty cool benefits for yourself or someone you love. Monthly and annual options are available and include exclusive perks, discounts to training programs, TRC gear, and more!
What does my membership support, exactly?
As the year is coming to a close we wanted to take the opportunity to revisit some of the success we've seen through 2021 in working towards serving our mission. As a small, non-profit organization we rely on our supporters and this work wouldn't have been possible without the combined efforts of our staff, board of directors, volunteers, and financial donations from people all over the world. So, what has kept us so busy in 2021, and why do we need your help before moving into the new year?
Firstly, we've held venomous handling training courses throughout the United States. These courses set the industry standard for safe venomous handling and empower people within their communities with the skills and knowledge they need to respond to venomous snakes in a way that's safe for them and for the animal. The classes are open to the public and we've hosted countless homeowners, zookeepers, military personnel, park rangers, city officials, and more with the aim of mitigating human-snake conflict. We've also hosted several first responders through this training at no cost to themselves through our first responder grant program. In rural communities especially, first responders often wear a lot of hats - and sometimes that hat may be being dispatched to a call for a venomous snake! We think it's vitally important to perpetuate a culture of safety so that these animals are moved rather than killed.
We opened a public facility this year inside of the Tree Hill Nature Center in Jacksonville, Florida that has allowed us to display native venomous snakes and have a classroom space where people can experience these animals safely. We believe that positive experiences foster a deeper connection to the natural world. To that end, we've hosted a wide variety of educational programs for kids as well. One program we're proud of is our Conservation Camp - a groundbreaking summer camp series that gives often underrepresented children in the heart of Jacksonville's urban core with the opportunity to spend the week as a wildlife biologist through immersive activities in wildlife monitoring, habitat evaluation, environmental surveys, animal ambassadors, and a coastal kayak excursion! We also host STEM Station - a program designed to give children hands on experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in a outdoor forest setting. Similarly, we've used the classroom to host countless field trips, keeper talks, and reptile encounters that allow us to connect with the community here and educate them on how to safely coexist alongside native wildlife species.
Additionally, as an organization we conduct our own research. We are working on studying the effects of translocation on the eastern diamondback rattlesnake and monitoring diseases in wild populations of rattlesnake species which we've recently expanded to other venomous snake species. Because research into the conservation of venomous reptiles is one of the most under-funded areas of science, we also are proud to offer research grants to projects which have a demonstrable "on the ground" conservation benefit. This year we were able to award our first international research grant to a project studying a lesser known subspecies of the south american rattlesnake in Brazil.
We've established two working groups this year - the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake working group and the Montane Rattlesnake Species working group as a way to bring together scientists, land managers, and representatives from state agencies to document the status of imperiled rattlesnake species and inform conservation action plans.
We've also been working towards ending rattlesnake roundups in the United States and pursuing options through legal & legislative means to ban practices like "gassing" where hunters are able to pour gasoline into burrows or crevices to catch rattlesnake species for these events where they're slaughtered in front of a crowd - often with no regulations or oversight. We continue to partner with zoos and captive facilities to provide animals, equipment, and ongoing support towards alternative options to rattlesnake roundups like conservation and educational festivals where the animals get to go home at the end of the event.
We are committed to continuing to serve our mission to benefit imperiled rattlesnakes into 2022 with even bigger goals, and we are so thankful for people like you who support our organization in these efforts. We believe that when we team together and pool our resources and passion we can make the most difference for these species. For these reasons and more, we ask that you commit to a sustaining membership to help support our mission to advance the protection of rattlesnakes, and their habitat, through research and education. Join now!