Animal related

Back to Nature Wildlife Inc

aka Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge and Education Center

Orlando, FL


The mission of the Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge is to rescue, raise, rehabilitate, and release injured or orphaned Florida native species and to provide education about respecting and preserving the environment through our non-releasable permanent residents known as “educational ambassadors.”

Ruling Year


Principal Officer

Deborah Helsel

Main Address

10525 Clapp Simms Duda Rd.

Orlando, FL 32832 USA


wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife education, conservation, education, animal, rehabilitation,





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Wildlife Sanctuary/Refuge (D34)

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

IRS Filing Requirement

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

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Wildlife Rescue Program

Education & Outreach Programs

Volunteer & Internship Program

Where we work

Charting Impact

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

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What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

1.  Preserve Central Florida’s wildlife by providing services to rescue, raise, rehabilitate, and release injured and orphaned Florida-native species back into their natural environment.Rescue - Provide the proper medical care and treatment needed for injured and orphaned Florida native wildlife.Raise - Provide the 24-hour specialty care that is required to raise orphaned baby animals.Rehabilitate - Provide professional care to sick or injured wildlife and prepare them for a successful release back into the wild.Release - Return to the wild is BTN’s goal for every injured or orphaned wild animal. This process could take days of hard work by staff and volunteers. To be released, animals must pass final examinations and show signs of proper social behavior. For rehabilitation to be declared successful, animals must be able to: survive on their own and be an integral part of their species’ population, have the ability to obtain natural foods, and naturally respond to danger.2.  Educate Central Floridians and visitors about respecting and preserving the environment through non-releasable permanent residents animals known as “educational ambassadors.”3.  Positively impact Central Florida’s wild ecosystems by ensuring that all injured and orphaned animals have a chance to play their necessary roles whether as predator or prey; mitigate the negative impacts of human activity on wildlife; and provide endangered species with the best chance of survival.

Operate the largest wildlife rehabilitation facility in Central Florida with passionate staff and volunteers who work around the clock to make sure that every rescue animal is given the proper care and love. Secure the financial resources to provide these services by cultivating individual donors, corporate sponsors, and hosting fundraising events. Invite the public to view BTN’s 30 non-releasable “educational ambassador” resident animals on a self-guided wildlife walk, open to the public Tuesday - Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. year-round. Offer guided group tours for a more in-depth experience and host several free open house events throughout the year. Rescue 2,500 - 3,000 animals each year and ensure the public is aware of services through marketing and outreach events. Partner with Orange and Osceola Counties

BTN’s partnership with Orange County provides a 40-year lease on 20 acres of conservation land, contract income for wildlife rehabilitation services provided. Orange County has also committed to $3.5 million for a new building with a community room, visitor center, animal care area, food preparation area and administration area. A passionate and dedicated staff are supported by about 100 volunteers and interns that contribute more than 12,000 hours of service each year at total value of more than $305,000 to BTN. BTN’s new facility provides a natural setting and a welcoming environment for public education programs and good homes for its resident “educational ambassador” animals. Orange County’s commitment to provide new buildings will also include space for educational programs and courses. Generous community sponsors enable BTN to offer free open houses throughout the year that attract thousands of visitors. Strong partnerships with other local wildlife rehabilitators, law enforcement, Publix Supermarkets, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts as well as contract support support from Orange and Osceola Counties enable BTN to care for all of the rescue intakes it receives each year. BTN also has a positive reputation in the community and frequent media coverage that helps increase awareness.

BTN measures progress by tracking the following metrics: Number of rescue animal intakes Type and species of rescue animal intakes Successful animal releases back to the wild Number of visitors to wildlife walk and educational outreach events Number of educational group tours Numbers of donors and corporate supporters Number of volunteers/interns and hours contributed BTN assesses progress towards its intended impact by how well it is able to meet the needs of animals being brought to its facility. An increase in the number of intakes over a certain point will necessitate more staff and potentially adding a third shift of coverage for animal care. This will also require increased financial resources to care for animal intakes.

Since its founding, BTN’s goal was to move to a larger space with a more natural environment. That longtime goal was achieved in 2014 with its move to Eagles Roost. The addition of more staff in 2019 helped move BTN towards its goal of meeting the needs of its increasing amount of animal intakes. More stable sources of recurring revenue in addition to even more staff is still needed. New building facilities that have been committed by Orange County to begin construction in 2020 will also better position BTN to care for its rescue animals with onsite veterinary care and enhance its educational opportunities.

External Reviews

Affiliations & Memberships

Florida Wildlife Rehabilitators Association 2014



Back to Nature Wildlife Inc

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

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


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?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable


Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable


Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable