Champions for Wildlife announces new coordinator, after-school programs

Published 1:35 pm Monday, January 15, 2024

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Champions for Wildlife has taught and inspired over 3,100 kids in Polk and Henderson counties about nature using art, and thanks the community for its help. Kids in charter, public, private and home schools have learned about pollinators, red wolves, hellbenders, bats, birds, local wildlife and other misunderstood animals and habitats. Each lesson included an interactive art activity.

Volunteers, donors and local corporate sponsors such as Kelly Moving and Mainstreet Insurance were recognized by the organization for their support, and it is also thankful for local grants and support from the Forbes Foundation, Polk County Schools, Polk County Community Foundation, Kiwanis Club and Rotary Club, as well as partners including US Fish & Wildlife Services, Milkweed Meadows Farm, Conserving Carolina and Gardening for Life Project.  

One project that was a highlight of 2023 was the planting of a native pollinator garden at Polk Central Elementary School. Fifth graders helped design and plant the garden, all while creating art about butterflies and other pollinators, with the help of 21 volunteers.

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Karen Dacey, who helped launch Champions for Wildlife, retired at the end of 2023 after. Elise Fillpot, Ph.D., has joined Champions for Wildlife as its new program and grant coordinator, and will occasionally teach alongside Education Coordinator Alexis Hinchliffe. With extensive experience conducting grant-funded projects in public schools, Elise is passionate about designing educational programs and engaging community partners.

Champions for Wildlife after-school programs have started back up and will begin in-class teaching in all four Polk County elementary schools and the middle school with lessons that complement learning standards already being taught, getting kids outdoors to learn about nature and wildlife. 

If you’d like to help, donations are needed and welcomed as programming and art supplies are offered free. Donations can be made online at or sent to Champions for Wildlife at PO Box 128, Lynn, NC, 28750. Volunteers can get more information on our website. 

Champions for Wildlife is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to connect kids with nature through art. For more information, please contact Loti Woods at