CROW received recognition and first place distinction from the EPA’s Gulf of Mexico Program. CROW won the award for its role in protecting and caring for wildlife native to the Gulf region and toward achieving and preserving healthy and resilient coasts in the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico.
Besides treating more than 4,000 patients, CROW unveiled renovated sea turtle facilities and announced several new ventures to more effectively share news and success stories with supporters. In addition to introducing a new e-newsletter, the organization launched a new website that more fully highlights the range of educational programs and services offered. CROW also implemented wildlife partnerships to better educate the public about saving wildlife through compassion, care and education.
CROW celebrated its 40th anniversary with the opening of a new state-of-the-art veterinary hospital and the 4,800-square-foot Healing Winds Visitor Education Center. The Visitor Education Center (VEC) features innovative visitor displays, interactive exhibits, live patient videos, wildlife presentations and special events. Proceeds from an on-site gift store benefit patient care. CROW’s wildlife hospital includes diet preparation areas, a laundry room , reptile room, pediatric ward and surgery room with a viewing window.
The new 3,700-square-foot George E. Batchelor Student Housing Complex, with three fully-furnished apartments, began welcoming residents.
Just as CROW kicked off its Commitment to Compassion capital campaign, Hurricane Charley devastated Sanibel Island. The student housing facilities were destroyed, but the organization quickly bounced back thanks to generous CROW friends who opened their homes to students
CROW continued to expand its facilities in 1992, building the original Robert E. Schneider Education Pavilion. New daily educational programs were put in place in the early part of the decade. A comprehensive veterinary internship program began accepting students in 1996, followed by CROWs popular student fellowship program in 1998.
CROWs move to a new clinic building began in 1981, and demand for services led to the start of the Volunteer Emergency Rescue & Transport (VERT) program in 1985. The late 1980s saw more exciting growth, with the launch of the student extern program, the hiring of the organizations first staff veterinarian and the installation of x-ray and surgical equipment.
Together, Shirley Walter, Phyllis Douglass and participating CROW volunteers helped shape the emerging field of wildlife medicine in the 1970s. The organization incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in the early part of the decade. By 1975, CROW outgrew Walter’s home and existed in name only until moving to the Captiva home of Adelaide Cherbonnier in 1977. By the late 1970s, plans were made to relocate to 12 acres of Sawbridge family property on Sanibel Captiva Road.
In 1968, Sanibel Island resident Shirley Walter came across a royal tern injured by a car. Finding no local services that could offer treatment, Walter carried the bird home. She shared the story with friends, and before long, a group of volunteers came together to form CROW. Five hundred distress calls came in that first year alone, many answered by the late veterinarian, Dr. Phyllis Douglass.