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

Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge’s (ECWR) mission is education, conservation and rehabilitation for the welfare of Florida’s natural fauna. 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 Gray 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 area’s first wildlife rehabilitation center, but they could not deny the overwhelming needs of 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, 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 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 a master plan and develop public outreach programs. In November of 2019 ECWR moved to its first ever, purpose built facility at 3051 Clopton’s Circle Navarre, Fl.


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

Natalie Dyson

Dr. Natalie Dyson, DVM

President and Chairman of the Board

Dr. Dyson is the owner and Chief Veterinarian of St. Francis Veterinary Center in Navarre, Florida, with over 18 years of experience in veterinary medicine in the panhandle of Florida. Dr. Dyson has been a long-time volunteer for the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge, and currently serves as President  Chairman of the Board for the ECWR.

Mr. Mitch Robbins

Vice President

Mr. Robbins is the National Key Account Representative, 3M Water Purification Division, where he manages the Central Region of the United States for distribution and national chain accounts with experience in contract negotiation/administration, and fiscal and personnel management including leading 17 sales representatives. He currently serves as Vice President of the ECWR.

Mrs. Erin Crumbley

Secretary of the ECWR Board

Mrs. Annette Beard

Treasurer of the ECWR Board

Mr. Tom Markland


Mr. Markland is a pilot for Southwest Airlines. Colonel Markland retired in 2012 as Chief, Operations Training Division, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command, providing programming, guidance, and management of aircrew training, modeling and simulation, foreign language training, and personnel recovery for all AF Special Operations Airmen. He currently serves as a director of the ECWR.

Ms. Linda Wade


Ms. Wade is the only female board certified trial lawyer in West Florida, and Managing Partner at Wade, Palmer, Shoemaker, Public Attorneys in Pensacola, Florida. Ms. Wade has been licensed for over 30 years, with expertise in employment litigation, tort liability, medical malpractice, general defense law, and advising private and public sector clients regarding issues concerning discrimination, and sexual harassment to avoiding bad faith. Ms. Wade currently serves as a Director for the ECWR.

Mr. Fred Abbott


Mr. Abbott is a recently retired National Sales Representative, for 3M. He currently serves as a Director on the Board of ECWR.

Ms. Shantelle Dedicke

Director of the ECWR Board

Mr. Bill Andersen

Emeritus Director

Colonel Andersen retired in 2013 as Commander, Air Force Special Operations Training Center, where he led a force of 1050 military, civilian, and contract personnel, executing an annual budget of $84 million, responsible for the indoctrination, training, and education of over 9,800 Airmen annually flying 11 different aircraft from 4 operating locations across the United States. He currently serves as Emeritus Director of ECWR.

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

Diane Parsonnet

Larry Anchors

Julie Parvin

Jerry Melvin

Carol “Stormy” Andersen