Tommy Young of the
Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center
named Rex Hancock Wildlife Conservationist of the Year
Tommy Young has been named Rex Hancock Wildlife Conservationist of the Year
by The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas
. One of the pioneers of nature conservation in the State of Arkansas was Dr. Rex Hancock, Jr., a dentist by profession with a passion for all of nature who was quoted as saying, “Conservation needs more than lip service . . . more than professionals. It needs ordinary people with extraordinary desire.” The award is certainly an honor for Tommy and acknowledges his expertise in animal conservation, but it must be noted that no money was received with this honor, rather it is recognition for hard work and devotion only. Donations for the ANPWLC are still desperately needed to feed and care for the animals, including any necessary surgeries.
Tommy is a professional and anything but ordinary. He does have an extraordinary desire to rehabilitate young animals, both mammal and fowl. Tommy holds degrees in Ornithology and Wildlife Medicine from Cornell University. Additionally, he is a licensed falconer which gives him a keen insight into the needs of and behaviors of birds of prey.
The Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center (ANPWLC) is located at the base of Rich Mountain, approximately 10 miles from Mena in western Arkansas, near Acorn, on highways 270 and 272. The center is currently housed in its seventh facility during the past 29 years. This 501c (3) non-profit facility has been at its current location for the last six years after relocating from atop the mountain at Queen Wilhelmina State Park.
ANPWLC is currently in the process of renovation with the goal of becoming a USDA Class C Exhibitor operation. Attaining such a classification will aid the facility to provide a much needed Wildlife Education Center open not only to the public but also to school children.
Located on a little more than three acres of what used to be a salvage yard, the property was nothing but an old shack and tons of car and car parts. Founder and director, Tommy Young, together with volunteers and friends, cleared and property and built a wooden building to house many smaller mammals, especially the young babies, and a variety of birds.
Young and his volunteers may travel as far as 300 miles to pick up an injured animal. The volunteers then spend a large part of the day feeding, cleaning cages, handling maintenance and doing repairs to the center.
“Feeding is especially time-consuming,” said Young. “With the young ones, by time you’ve fed the last one, it’s time to start all over again to feed the ones that were fed the first time around.”
ANPWLC uses approximately 175 pounds of meat each week to feed the alligators, cougars, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, hawks and other carnivores. The job is certainly too large for one individual, and Tommy is fortunate to have a crew of dedicated volunteers. According to Young, “Wal-Mart has been allowing employees to volunteer for the past two years. Wal-Mart allows about 250 man-hours with most occurring in the spring.” Sometimes help comes from local teens who have been assigned community service for minor offenses. Most of the time, these individuals do things like mowing and cleaning the area.” Untrained individuals are never allowed to work with the animals.
The Polk County Master Gardeners
recently agreed to help prepare some of the soil and areas for planting; however, PCMG is not able to provide the plants. If you have healthy plants you are willing to dig and donate to the ANPWLC, please contact any member of the Polk County Master Gardeners. The Extension Office will be able to direct you to the right person.
If you would like to make a monetary contribution to the ANPWLC, please make a check payable to Arkansas National Plant and Wildlife Center and mail to the First National Bank of Mena at 600 Highway 71 South, Mena, AR 71953. All donations received are used solely for the feeding, care and rehabilitation of the animals and are tax-deductible.
Sponsorship is also available - visit our Sponsors page to get details.