About The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge

For more than twenty years, the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge’s daily operational goal has been the rehabilitation and release of orphaned and injured wildlife indigenous to Northwest Florida. The Refuge provides wildlife rescue services and environmental outreach to five counties in Northwest Florida; our staff is on duty 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to assist local and state agencies in managing wildlife. The ECWR works with local governments, private businesses and individuals to protect habitats and the wildlife that live there.

As a leader in conservation education for the Emerald Coast, we offer educational programs for law enforcement and interested members of the community. The Refuge also partners with public and private schools to educate our youth on the importance of conserving our native species.

As we head into the future, the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge will continue to pursue the highest level of medical care, environmental education, and conservation efforts. Join us today as we take responsibility for the preservation of our precious lands and wildlife. Help us create a new tomorrow where all life is respected.

Our Mission

The mission of the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge (ECWR) is education, conservation and rehabilitation for the welfare of Florida’s natural fauna. The ECWR is a not-for-profit organization made up of a caring staff and dedicated volunteers. We are supported through the generous donations of local residents and businesses.

Our History

When local fisherman George Grey walked quickly across the white sands of Pensacola Beach, with a single, tiny baby dolphin in tow, he never imagined that one simple act of kindness would start a local conservation revolution. George, along with co- founders Richard Everett and Julie Parvin, formed a coalition of volunteers made up of local concerned citizens to respond to the rescue of “Kiwi”, a one month old Pantropical- spotted dolphin. Unable to move or touch the animal due to federal laws, the dedicated volunteer group stood strong for seventy-two hours in waist deep waters to form a human fence around the orphaned baby dolphin. The fragile “Kiwi” remained safe inside her circle of new friends, protected from predators and certain death, as George rushed to complete the permitting process. Finally, with the paperwork in order, George entered the water and accepted the very first patient to the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge.

Refuge founders may have never planned on becoming the areas first wildlife rehabilitation center, but they could not deny the overwhelming needs of the local wildlife and residents. In September 1994, the refuge was officially incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation registered with the Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. The organization was then granted 501(c) 3 tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and became permitted by the State of Florida and the federal government to rehabilitate all species of wildlife.

For the first six years, the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge operated from volunteer homes. In March of 2000, refuge leaders recognized the necessity of a central base of operations and leased a commercial warehouse on Mountain Drive in Destin. By establishing a permanent residence, the refuge became more accessible to the public and local recognition by the community grew.

As the number of admissions continued to increase and a master plan was developed, additional space and more appropriate facilities were required. In early 2005, with the help of passionate volunteers and a zealous community, the refuge was able to raise enough funds to relocate to a larger facility and hire a professional staff to oversee its operations. The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge leaders were then able to focus on implementing the master plan and develop public outreach programs. Currently, the ECWR is located at 105 Santa Rosa Blvd on Okaloosa Island.


The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The refuge is governed by a 7 member Board of Directors.

Board of Directors

Colonel Bill Andersen, USAF Retired
President and Chairman of the Board

Mitch Robbins
Vice President and Acting Treasurer

Dr. Natalie Dyson

Ms. Linda Wade

Mr. Scott Kemp

Corporate Officers

Tom Markland
Acting Corporate Secretary

Nancy Watson

Honorary Board Member

An honorary board position is the highest honor awarded to individuals within the Refuge organization. It is reserved for individuals who have contributed above and beyond to the mission and growth of the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge.

George Gray
Tammy Tierce
Rich Everett
Natalie Dyson, DVM
Diane Parsonnet
Larry Anchors
Julie Parvin
Jerry Melvin

In Search Of Board Members

We’re inviting interested like-minded Professionals and Philanthropists to consider serving on our very active board of directors.

Please contact us for more information (850)650-1880