Ria Warner is an educator, naturalist, and mental health advocate. She truly believes that connecting with nature has healing powers and has made it her mission to protect and conserve our wild world while encouraging people to explore the beauty of nature. A Florida native, she grew up exploring both the outdoors and local zoos and aquariums- including Busch Gardens and SeaWorld. Parks like these helped her build an appreciation for animals and feel empowered to make a difference.
After working for several years in the Education and Conservation Department at Busch Gardens Tampa she ventured into a more traditional education setting. While she loved her students and watching them learn, grow, and become inspired, she felt as if something was missing. She still craved a deeper connection to nature so, she decided to research how to become a wildlife rehabilitator and when she expressed this interest to her veterinarian, he immediately put her in contact with Kris Porter, the founder of Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife and a state and federally permitted rehabilitator.
As she learned the ropes of wildlife rehabilitation she still felt incomplete. She realized that although one small group could not save the wild on their own, through education and outreach they could cause waves of change that would resonate further than any one organization alone. While continuing to assist in the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife she began to develop marketing strategies, volunteer training programs, and most importantly education and outreach programs that focus on Florida wildlife and the conservation concerns they are fighting to overcome.
Within a year Ria was named the Director of Education and Outreach and was the first non-founding member on the Board of Directors. In the meantime, Kris had also introduced her to Patrick Bradley, one of the founders of AVA, the Avian Veteran Alliance (an ecotherapy program focusing on Veterans recovering from mental and physical health concerns), and the Director of the City of Largo’s Bird of Prey program. She began volunteering there as well, at first doing basic animal care before eventually becoming a primary trainer with the program.
Her leadership and involvement for the past several years helped to forge a vital partnership between the two organizations, allowing for a network of professionals that supports and further advances the missions of both groups. Ria works full-time as a certified teacher in a classroom and puts in numerous hours volunteering for both Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife and Avian Veteran alliance. She is also continuing her own education working toward her master’s degree in mental health. Once completed, she will be able to full fill her mission to open an environmental education and ecotherapy center bringing her two passions together in one place.
Owl’s Nest is staffed 100% by volunteers and funded 100% by donation. All funds go directly to enable us to recuse, rehabilitate, raise and release the animals in our care. Please visit our “How to Help” sub-pages to find ways you can help us help our Florida native wildlife.
Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife is a state and federally permitted 501c3 non-profit wildlife rehabilitation facility based in the Tampa Bay area and serves Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas counties and assist in neighboring counties. We are dedicated to the rescue of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife so that they may be rehabilitated and (when possible) released back to the wild.
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