Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Names New Director – Burwell to Stay

By Val Van Meter
The Winchester Star, May 19, 2015

MILLWOOD — The Blue Ridge Wildlife Center has a new executive director.
David B. Bancroft, 59, former president of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, has
been hired by Blue Ridge’s board of directors to oversee the center’s work as it
prepares to move into an expanded quarters next spring.

Ground was broken in March for the 8,000-square-foot rehabilitation and educational

The center’s founder, veterinarian Belinda Burwell, remains director of wildlife
services and will continue to serve on the board of directors.

Lisa Goshen, newly elected chairwoman for the center’s board, said Bancroft “brings
years of environmental and administrative experience to BRWC that we feel is
essential for the further growth and development of the organization.”

In addition to his work for water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, Bancroft has led
sustainable agriculture initiatives, promoted “farm to table” certification of restaurants
and served as deputy executive director of the council of the Great Lakes Governors,
executive vice president of the Solar Energy Industries Association and a director of
the Washington, D.C., Relations at the University of Wisconsin Foundation.

Bancroft said he was attracted to the job because of Burwell’s “cutting-edge work” in
the rescue and rehabilitation of native animals,” as well as wildlife education.
“She has blazed an exciting trail in the wildlife arena,” he said.

Bancroft said he hopes his background in a variety of habitat issues will complement
her work.

Working out of a temporary trailer until the new building is completed, Bancroft said
his initial efforts will be focused on fundraising.

While $1.1 million has been pledged for constructing the center and equipping it for
its hospital functions and its housing for a wide variety of wild animals native to the
region, he will be attempting to bring in an additional $100,000 to close the gap
needed to support its future educational and research efforts.

Bancroft said the educational animal ambassadors, those too badly injured or
handicapped to be released back into the wild, will form the basis for the center’s
educational efforts.

Animals are a great gateway for children to learn about water quality, vegetation and

“Nothing gets a child as excited as seeing a live animal.”

Animals open the doors to discussion of all sorts of issues, including water
resources, agriculture and habitat infringement, he added.

While the nonprofit center is known for its rescue and rehabilitation work, Bancroft
said he hopes to see the educational aspect and some of its groundbreaking
research come to the fore.

Goshen said the center is “lucky to have two dedicated professionals like David and
Belinda, who bring complementary skills and abilities to the organization. Together,
they will help foster the next stage of growth for BRWC as we move into our new
facility and meet the mission of ensuring the future of our region’s wildlife.”

Blue Ridge Wildlife Center is a nonprofit charitable organization for wildlife
conservation and rehabilitation. It assists native wildlife at no charge. It is completely
funded by private donations. For more information, go online at

— Contact Val Van Meter at

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