DeSoto CountyMississippi News

New leader for Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation and Coldwater River Nature Conservancy

Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc (MWR) and their subsidiary, Coldwater River Nature Conservancy (CRNC) have announced the hiring of new Executive Director, Mykl Wallrath.

“The future of MWR is brighter than ever,” said Wayne Spell, President of the MWR Board of Directors. “We are delighted to have Mykl lead our organization.vMykl shares the same passion for wildlife that led Valery Smith to create MWR 28 years ago, and he brings a wealth of professional experience from all over the United States in leading environmental conservation and education.”

Wallrath is a conservation and environmental professional with a Master of Science in Environmental Management from the University of Houston. His 25-year career includes experience as a teacher at the Lichterman Nature Center in east Memphis, park specialist at John D. McArthur Beach State Park in North Palm Beach, Florida, zookeeper at the Houston Zoo, and senior environmental specialist at Brooker Creek Preserve, an 8,300 acre preserve in Florida.

MWR is a non-profit, 501c3 organization committed to caring for Mississippi wildlife and to educating our community on the importance of wildlife appreciation, preservation and the protection of native habitats. MWR assists hundreds of injured and orphaned wild birds and reptiles annually, returning healthy animals to their natural home. In addition, MWR offers educational programs for schools, community festivals, and civic groups reaching thousands of people each year.

Founded in 1995 by Valery Smith to meet the need for wildlife assistance in north Mississippi, MWR has become one of the largest wildlife rehab organizations in Mississippi and the Mid-South. MWR manages The ARK, a 154-acre public wildlife sanctuary on the northeast edge of Arkabutla Lake in DeSoto County. The ARK offers two miles of hiking trails with interpretive signage, a 5,000-square-foot event pavilion, an education stage, and wildflower garden.

Wallrath was brought in to advance the mission of MWR and to lead the effort to build a state-of-the-art Nature Center (Build the ARK – Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc ( which will offer hands-on exhibits, outdoor classrooms, rehabilitation space for injured wildlife, and eventually a 5,000-square-foot raptor flight cage. Named after its founder, the Valery Smith Wildlife Hospital will feature treatment space, surgery rooms, critical care areas and viewing windows for visitors to observe.

“Valery Smith dedicated her life to saving thousands of animals and inspiring our community to protect wildlife,”Wallrath. “It is my honor to carry on her mission of caring for wildlife, inspiring our community,and leading MWR to accomplish her goals of a wildlife hospital, nature center, and flight cage.”

The Coldwater River Nature Conservancy (CRNC) promotes enjoying and protecting the natural ecosystem of the Coldwater River watershed by providing access to trails, caring for wildlife, educating our community, and conserving our environment. The CRNC is developing the Virginia Trails at Hunter’s Creek in Senatobia, next to the Northwest Mississippi Community College campus.

Virginia Trails will be a 30 acre public park with a one mile trail, open space, and growing opportunities to enjoy nature.

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