Sabrina Garvin, Executive Director and Co-Founder
Sabrina began getting involved with wildlife rehabilitation as an apprentice over twenty years ago, originally only doing a handful squirrels a year, but a strong passion for wildlife grew and grew over time as she reached out to experts across the country for their knowledge and experience, always in the search of finding better techniques and tips for the wild animals that would come into her care. As Roanoke grew and the community needed a place to bring injured, orphaned, and sick wildlife, her part-time hobby grew into a full time commitment and became what is now known as Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke.
Dr. Lucky Garvin, Co-Founder
Dr. Lucky is a retired ER doctor who has supported the Center’s work and mission from humble beginnings over twenty years ago — and is in a way responsible for the Center’s existence by suggesting that Sabrina start a new hobby, which ended up being wildlife rehabilitation! Lucky is always there to help whenever the going gets tough, especially with late night squirrel feeds during the spring and fall.
Dr. Karen Thomason, Staff Veterinarian
Dr. Thomason graduated from the University of California, Davis with a major in mathematics and a minor in biology. She was then accepted at the veterinary school there, which is widely considered to be the best in the world, and graduated in 1986. She then worked in a mixed animal practice in California after doing an internship in food animal medicine and surgery at Kansas State University. After a few years in California she moved to Floyd, VA where she opened a mixed animal practice that morphed into small animal where she practiced for 28 years before joining our staff. Dr. Thomason said, “I’ve always been fascinated by wildlife and now have the opportunity to satisfy the urge to work with them”.
Dr. Kelli Knight, Staff Veterinarian
Dr. Kelli has been involved in the field wildlife rehabilitation for a long time and was a former staff member at the world renown Wildlife Center of Virginia before coming to Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke. She has taught wildlife rehabilitation classes across the globe to thousands of students, including helping found the Wildlife Care Academy at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, and continues to travel around the world to do so.
Haley Olsen-Hodges, Staff Naturalist
Haley has been rehabilitating wildlife for nine years, gaining experience at various large wildlife rehabilitation centers across the country before coming to this one. Haley is a certified Virginia Master Naturalist, has been invited to lecture at wildlife rehabilitation conferences, and is passionate about quantifying and collecting data in wildlife rehab. Haley specializes in bird rehabilitation, particularly of songbirds and unusual species not often admitted to the Center. She is a jack of all trades (and likes to think she is adequate at most of them) helping with social media, outreach, writing and updating protocol, and more. She is currently a student at Virginia Tech, pursuing a degree in wildlife conservation with a minor in entomology.
Tanner Bengtson, Veterinary Assistant
Tanner is a Virginia Tech graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biology, beginning at the center as a volunteer and eventually became a staff member due to his keen eye for spotting problems, steady patience and demeanor, ability to quickly pick up new things quickly, adapt on the fly, and innate skill at wildlife rehabilitation. During his time here he has thrived and has expanded his repertoire and has the ability to do complex tasks with ease. Tanner has assisted in teaching veterinary students wildlife rehabilitation techniques and his favorite animals to work with are raptors, squirrels, and cedar waxwings. He is currently pursing a second degree as a veterinary technician.
Madison Burnette, Senior Staff and Volunteer Coordinator
Madison is a current environmental studies major at Roanoke College who has been involved in wildlife rehabilitation for four years. She began her journey at the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Lees-McRae College at 12 years old where she was tasked with feeding baby birds and bunnies as a volunteer. Madison hopes to pursue a career working in wildlife conservation working hard to ensure that these magnificent creatures can continue to be enjoyed by future generations. Madison started at our Center as a volunteer the day she turned 18 (the youngest you can rehab wildlife in Virginia), went on to become an intern, and is one of our senior most staff members at the Center currently. She excels at dividing treatment plans, has an attentive eye for spotting problems, and is in charge of running our volunteer/internship programs.
5985 Coleman Road, Roanoke, VA 24018