Appalachian Wildlife Refuge

Saving Wild Lives

Candler, NC   |


Appalachian Wildlife Refuge coordinates wildlife rehabilitation efforts in Western North Carolina by providing care for injured and orphaned wildlife, supporting the wildlife rehabilitation network, and offering conservation education to the community.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Savannah Trantham

Main address

PO Box 824

Candler, NC 28715 USA

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NTEE code info

Wildlife Sanctuary/Refuge (D34)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The number of injured and orphaned wild animals in crisis is increasing every year. The WNC Nature Center is no longer filling the role to triage these animals. The home-based volunteer wildlife rehabilitators are overwhelmed and in need of support. They struggle with the time involved in answering calls, rescue and transport of the animals when they need to be home providing treatment and care to special cases and long- term care patients. They also need support to control their expenses for providing this service to our community and the animals, which is paid for out of their own pockets. They, along with the WNC Nature Center, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, local veterinarians and others are looking to Appalachian Wild to fill this gap. The animal care facility opened in 2018, and has rescued, rehabilitated and released over 5,000 orphaned and injured wildlife. An emergency wildlife hotline is in place which fields about 5,000 calls annually.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Appalachian Wild Wildlife Rescue and Animal Care Facility

Appalachian Wild rescues, rehabilitates, and releases orphaned and injured native wildlife, provides a wildlife emergency hotline to 21 counties across Western North Carolina, and provides conservation education to the community.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of animals rehabilitated

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Appalachian Wild Wildlife Rescue and Animal Care Facility

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

These totals represent those wild patients that have entered into rehabilitative care at our facility, and does not represent the full scale of AWR's rehabilitative work.

Number of crisis hotline calls answered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Appalachian Wild Wildlife Rescue and Animal Care Facility

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

These numbers represent community interactions that have occurred through our wildlife hotline to support and aid individuals with injured or orphaned wildlife and education to coexist harmoniously

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Appalachian Wildlife Refuge is a nonprofit that coordinates the needs of wildlife rehabilitation in Western North Carolina providing care for injured and orphaned wildlife, support for the wildlife rehabilitation network and conservation education to the community. In October of 2014, Appalachian Wildlife Refuge was established by a team of volunteers with the depth of knowledge, experience, and expertise to bring the wish of a Wildlife Urgent Care facility to life.

With thoughtful planning, generous support and the extensive commitment of volunteers, the Appalachian Wild facility opened on July 6, 2018. Appalachian Wild is very busy providing transport and rehabilitation to wildlife in crisis as well as engaging and educating the public about native wildlife. Our ultimate goal is to save the lives of injured and orphaned wild animals and alleviate their suffering, ideally allowing them to return to the wild.

‘Time to Blossom’ Priorities and Plans
Volunteers - build internship program, expanding operational, volunteer, and development positions; recruit and train additional transport, triage, hotline, and administration volunteers.

Leadership - build Board and Advisory Council. Specifically seeking members that have experience in finance, real estate, construction and marketing.

Fundraising - expand donor base, increase levels and frequency of giving including Wild Sustainer monthly program for recurring gifts, pursue grant funding and new initiatives:
○ Wild Giving Circle - donors that commit to $X amount each year for X number of years.
○ Back to the Wild Program - sponsor animals to support the triage operations
Events - community give-back activities throughout the year, raffles and VIP Gathering.
Grants- Continue to research new grant opportunities, and strengthen existing relationships with foundations.

Appalachian Wild is opening the only facility of its kind in Western North Carolina and was Co-Founded by Savannah Trantham and Kimberly Brewster. Co-founder and Director of Development & Administration Kimberly is a business efficiency, marketing & performance expert, with over 19 years of experience working in all aspects of business operations including over 17 years in nonprofit management. Co-founder and Director of Operations Savannah is a state permitted Wildlife Rehabilitator and former Assistant Animal Curator at the WNC Nature Center. She has a B.S. in Biology from Lee’s McRae College with a concentration in Wildlife Rehabilitation. She is an active member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Wildlife Rehabilitators of North Carolina, National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, Southern Appalachian Herpetological Society, and the 4-H Youth Development Organization.

They are assisted by a complement of 80 volunteers and interns serving in various capacities of the organization including wildlife triage, transport, hotline, administration, outreach, marketing, facilities management, and development. Appalachian Wild also works with home-based wildlife rehabilitators and partners in the community. We have a list of partners on our website that include specialized facilities and organizations that are involved in wildlife rehabilitation. Those include the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Carolina Raptor Center, Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, Wild for Life, and the Wildlife Comission of North Carolina. We also have strong relationships established with many of the veterinary offices in the area as well as Animal Control. The strong partnership with the WNC Nature Center continues and many other environmental organizations are engaging with the organization to help with getting education out in the community.

The development and fundraising is now being overseen by Kerri Conrad, who has several years of experience working in the wildlife rescue field.

First Steps: Achieved December 31, 2014
On October 23, 2014, the organization was incorporated in the state of North Carolina with the support of a founding Board of Directors and Advisory Council. The newly formed organization exceeded the initial fundraising goal by 106% for start-up expenses.

Establishing Roots: Achieved October 2016
In January of 2015, the organization applied for and received tax exemption status. The website was created and social media started to build awareness and start educational outreach. The Development and Facility Committees were created to help move the organization towards the goal of opening a Wildlife Urgent Care facility to serve Western North Carolina. In January 2017, a small area of leased land and a donated modular building were offered to open the Wildlife Urgent Care facility. Leadership decided to accept the donation, secure the lease and invest in repairs and renovations of the building which can be moved in the future to a permanent site.

Open Doors / Wildlife Urgent Care Facility: Achieved July 2018
In 2017, a small team of dedicated, hard-working volunteers completed the rehabilitation of the new Wildlife Urgent Care facility. Funds were raised along with donations of in-kind materials and supplies to complete the work. The first staff person was hired to lead the organization to get the doors open. In March of 2017, a post went viral that started the Wands for Wildlife ®
program. Appalachian Wild received attention from around the globe. Donors sent in mascara wands to recycle along with items from the website Wishlist. The program provided support at a critical time as the organization worked to establish and outfit the new urgent care.

Appalachian Wild is now running a very busy wildlife urgent care facility with over 5,000 (number is rising daily) admitted since opening in July of 2018. New volunteers are being recruited and trained to expand capacity and hours of operation. The hotline is receiving thousands of inquiries about native wildlife from the community. Appalachian Wild’s plan to further the mission through expanding capacity and working towards establishing a full-service wildlife rehabilitation facility:

Phase I: Time to Blossom
Grow the volunteer team for triage, rehab and 24/7 wildlife hotline
Raise funds to hire Operations Director to expand capacity beyond triage
Expand Wands for Wildlife program
Acquire Wildlife Ambulance and Rescue vehicle

Phase II: Preparing the ground
Initiate Feasibility Study for capital campaign to build full-service wildlife rehabilitation facility
Secure donated land - 10+ acres in or on the border of Buncombe County
Begin Capital Campaign for building

Phase III: Appalachian Wild Rehab Center
Complete construction of full service facility and begin operations
Expand research work
Build team, curriculum and plans for education programming

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection


Appalachian Wildlife Refuge

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Appalachian Wildlife Refuge

Board of directors
as of 04/28/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

D Smith

Welcome Wellness/Appalachian Realty

D Smith

Welcome Wellness/Appalachian Realty

Pat Newton

Retired Finance

Winslow Umberger

Retired teacher

Thomas Ryan

Retired Biomedical Engineering

Dawn Greene

Retired ICU RN

Andrew Stevenson

Pisgah Legal Services

Michele Hathcock

Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/28/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data