The purpose of the Illinois Raptor Center is to ensure the well-being of native animals through wildlife rehabilitation; to increase conservation awareness through educational outreach; to contribute expertise and support to conservation partners; and to improve our understanding of wildlife health through hands on research.
Our Board of Directors:
JANE SEITZ, Executive Director, Founder, Master Falconer, State and Federal Wildlife Rehabilitator, Conservation Educator, Eagle and Endangered Species Rehabilitation and Education
JACQUES NUZZO, Program Director, Founding Member, Master Falconer, State and Federal Wildlife Rehabilitator, Conservation Educator, Eagle and Endangered Species Rehabilitation and Education, Challenge Course Facilitator, Climbing Instructor, Recreational Tree Climber
JO FESSETT, Assistant to the Executive Director of the Illinois Audubon Society at Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, Business Administration, past Outreach and Community Development for the Nature Conservancy
DR. TRAVIS WILCOXEN, Assistant Professor of Biology at Millikin University teaching Human Anatomy and Physiology, Immunology, Ecology and Evolution Courses, Research in Ecoimmunology, Physiology and Behavior of Birds and Amphibians, Federal Bird Bander
For donations of stocks and investments to the
IRC "Forever Fund" please contact
Raymond James Financial Services
Hickory Point Bank
225 N. Water Street
Decatur, IL 62523
It is hard to tell the story of the Illinois Raptor Center because there are too many wonderful things that have happened on the road to where it is today. Sadly, there isn't enough room here to tell the complete story. Here is the shortened version.
In the late 1980's the organization's efforts began in the garage at the Decatur home of Executive Director, Jane Seitz. It was known then as Wildlife CPR.
In 1991, the organization incorporated and became an official private 501(c)(3)nonprofit. That was also the year that now Program Director, Jacques Nuzzo, joined the organization as a volunteer.
In 1993, during the "Great Flood", the organization headed up the largest wildlife rescue team on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. During that effort one used and four new boats, motors and trailers were donated to the IRC for the river rescue.
In 1994 the organization (using the boats as collateral for a loan) purchased 10 acres of property along the Sangamon River in Decatur as its permanent home. The property included an unfinished garage and a barn.
In 1995 the Illinois Raptor Center rescued a mated pair of Eastern Screech Owls whose nest and eggs were destroyed in an illegal tree cutting case that ended up in court. The offending company was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine in the form of a check made out to the Illinois Raptor Center. That money was used to install water, electricity, heat and plumbing - in other words - to completely remodel and renovate the building and turn it into the wildlife hospital.
In 1998 an adjacent 5 acres to the west was purchased by using a donated vehicle as collateral. The property is a valley and had been used for many years prior as a dumping ground and was horribly abused.
The organization launched a multi-year plan to clean up and restore the property.
During the spring of the first year of clean up, Daffodils came up and bloomed all along the front of the property which became known fondly as "Daffodil Valley".
Today, with the help of many organizations and volunteers, Daffodil Valley is a beautiful place.
In 1999 a 1/2 acre triangular tract of land adjacent on the south along the Sangamon River was donated to the organization.
In 2000 the name Wildlife CPR was officially changed to the Illinois Raptor Center.
In 2003 the IRC started replacing aging wooden mews (caging). The new metal mews were built by the Amish and transported to the IRC. Each mew was sponsored by a private individual donation.
In 2006 a pavilion was built on Daffodil Valley as an Eagle Scout Project allowing the IRC, for the first time, to have an permanent on-site location for education programs.
In 2012 the Illinois Raptor Center purchased the adjacent 10 acres property to the east with the help of a wonderful and generous donor (who wishes to remain anonymous) who pledged some of his stocks and investments as collateral to back a loan for the IRC to purchase the property. The property includes a large 1700 sq. ft. home with full basement and attached garage to where the IRC has moved its offices with the lower level serving as a nature center for on-site programming.
Throughout the years, grants from the Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund (one of the check-off charities on the Illinois income tax form) have helped to replace and repair many things at the wildlife hospital including freezers, water lines, incubators, air conditioners and the roof.
In 2013, a grant from Ameren Illinois funded the building of a huge outdoor complex to house IRC's permanent resident education birds. The original 10 acres, buildings, barn, flights and cage units are now designated solely for the purpose of hospital care and rehabilitation of native wildlife.
Also in 2013, the generous donor that pledged the investments for our loan donated the investments! Those investments are left intact. In 12 years, the loan will be paid off in full and the investments will remain as part of the IRC's "Forever Fund." This fund secures the future of the Illinois Raptor Center.
And finally, in 2013 the IRC received a huge donation from the will of Mary Kaiser. That money has allowed the IRC to renovate and update offices and nature center to make them completely handicapped accessible, inside and out, to purchase grounds equipment to help with the maintenance of the 25 acre property, to asphalt the driveway and parking lot of the hospital, and to make renovations, repairs and needed changes to wildlife hospital.
Today, kind and generous donations from individuals are used for operating expenses like keeping the incubators warm and wildlife patients fed and well cared for - while major donations and grants keep the IRC facility, its directors and volunteers, well equipped to work hard for wildlife in need of care and to educate the public on how to live with our wild neighbors.
The IRC has been - and is - very blessed. Thank you.