Supporting South Jersey Wildlife

The first time I visited Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, my mother and I were on an emergency mission to save the life of a possum.

I was 12 years old and had discovered the critter in our backyard pool. The little guy apparently had gone for a swim and gotten caught in one of the filter traps. By the time I found him, he was knocking on death’s door—shivering, emaciated and barely breathing.

As anyone who lives on the outskirts of Burlington County knows, there’s only one place to take a case like this: Woodford Cedar Run.

Founded in 1956 by Elizabeth and James Woodford, Cedar Run is a quaint but important enclave dedicated to Pinelands preservation, environmental education and wildlife rehabilitation. Housed on 184 acres surrounding Cedar Run Lake, the refuge includes a wildlife rehabilitation hospital and an outdoor live-animal housing area. The area also features the Elizabeth Woodford Environmental Education and Nature Center, with classrooms, hands-on exhibits and a library. Visitors can walk several wooded nature trails that link uplands and wetlands.

Cedar Run typically rehabilitates more than 3,000 wild animals every year, most of which are returned to nature. Those that aren’t well enough to go back to the wild are put up in the outdoor housing area, where they help visitors learn about South Jersey’s habitats and native species.

This weekend, Cedar Run will host its 17th annual Serenade for Wildlife fundraiser, an afternoon of classical music featuring William Stokking, retired principal cellist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as violinist Jonathan Beiler from the Philadelphia Orchestra and pianist Norma Meyer. The concert will be held Sunday, March 20, at the Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Tabernacle. All proceeds will benefit this remarkable South Jersey institution. You can call the refuge at 856-983-3329, ext. 100, for tickets or information.

By the way, the possum’s life was saved.

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