Heart and Expertise

Three women pooled their shared passions and unique expertise to found this one-of-a-kind organization in Iowa. While they each have different backgrounds and perspectives, their respect for the profession and each other serve to strengthen their common ground. The path ahead is full of exciting challenges and opportunities.

Elaine Thrune, St. Cloud, MN -- Elaine is a past president and founding board member of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, and is the retired founder, director, rehabilitator, and volunteer coordinator of WILD AGAIN Wildlife Rehabilitation program at St. Cloud State University. She was an advisor and member of the now-disbanded Minnesota Wildlife Assistance Cooperative for decades and the Tri-County Humane Society and is a member of the Ernest Oberholzer Foundation board of directors.

Elaine received a B.S. in biology from Winona State College and Master of Science degree in biology with an emphasis in wildlife and ecology from St. Cloud State University. She possesses leadership perspective, hands-on experience, and a vast knowledge of issues, needs, and the history and future potential of wildlife rehabilitation.

As president and chief operating officer of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA) prior to creation of the first Executive Director staff position, she was responsible for both the daily business operations and leading the governing board. Her unique perspective includes guiding the growth and development of the young profession of wildlife rehabilitation. Elaine has 1 1/2 decades leading the NWRA as president during two very important phases of that organization. Her contributions to the field of wildlife rehabilitation and to that national organization are vast.

Lynne Brookes, PhD, Errington, Vancouver Island, British Columbia -- Lynne has provided leadership in business, education, and international philanthropic and other not-for-profit organizations. She has been co-founder of and assistant in a veterinary practice, executive director of a start-up solar energy company, and owner/manager for 35 years of a horse breeding and training facility. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she taught biology at a university in Peru and then continued in the field of education as an instructor in secondary, college, university and nontraditional settings creating many of the courses she taught. Lynne was Fellowship and Training Program Manager and Acting Department Head at Winrock International, Midwest Regional Director of the USAID Agricultural Training Program, and ISU International Agriculture Programs project manager, grant proposal writer and program developer. She has also served as consultant on several international projects. Lynne has enjoyed serving the community as a wildlife rehabilitation volunteer, board member of the Iowa Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, president of the Big Bluestem Audubon Society, and founder of the Iowa Peruvian Horse Association.

Lynne earned a BS degree in biology from SUNY Brockport, NY; MS in international agricultural development and MEd in organization development from UC Davis; and a PhD in agriculture education (international environmental education) from Iowa State University.

Now retired, Lynne develops custom programs, teaches short courses, and volunteers time providing public education regarding wildlife and habitat, wildlife rehabilitation, and connections between humans and the natural world. She is deeply committed to development of the Iowa Wildlife Center, seeing this as a perfect venue for bringing nature and humans together for the benefit of both.

Marlene Ehresman, Ames, IA -- In 1985, Marlene co-founded the Iowa Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, launching her on a journey of discovery in the nonprofit world. Marlene served on the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA) from 1988 through 1996 -- six years as board member and eight years as chair of its public relations committee. She has continued to serve the NWRA in various roles since then as chair of the Conservation Session, presenter or advisor to this day.

The Iowa Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (IWRA), disbanded in 2014, benefited from her energy and passion for nearly 25 years. As president of IWRA from 1985 to 1989 and again in 1997, she appointed the founding board of directors, developed, wrote and edited the newsletter, initiated and coordinated state sympsosia and instituted and planned midwest wildlife rehabilitation conferences. Marlene's personal mission during her original tenure (she was elected president again in 1997) was to build a cooperative relationship with the Department of Natural Resources and other state, federal and private environmental organizations. The relationships she formed with state and federal permitting staff and state and federal law enforcement officers were instrumental in elevating the stature of wildlife rehabilitation and wildlife rehabilitators in the midwest during this time. In 1987, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Bureau Chief nominated her for a Governor's Award for Volunteerism for efforts in wildlife rehabilitation, which she won. The IWRA Board of Directors presented Marlene with their Honorary Life Member Award in 1994 for her work in this field.

In 1988, after a year as veterinary assistant, Marlene was promoted to the position of first coordinator of the Wildlife Care Clinic at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine under Dr. Kathryn Owen. Marlene managed the clinic's maintenance, public relations and patient care and records. She also created and implemented the summer intern program, supervising students and volunteers.

While it is true that Marlene has been heavily involved with the wildlife rehabilitation community for over two decades, her involvement with the conservation community doesn't end there. Among others, she has served on the Iowa Association of Naturalists Live Animals and Apprenticeship Committee, Iowa Prairie Network Region 5 Winter Workshop Committee, Big Bluestem Audubon Society board, and was founding member of the Iowa Ornithologists' Union Projects Committee. As recently as 2016, she was invited to serve on the founding planning committee for Bird Friendly Iowa.

Her committment is as deep as it is long to the conservation of Iowa's land and wildlife. She is so very glad her husband and two adult sons share her interests in wild places and wild things. She continues to be amazed by the support and encouragement found in nature and her network of friends and family. If this all wasn't enough, her two co-founders of the IWC provide balance and wisdom to the project. Binding the personal and professional journey together are the goals to live, and work, ethically and intentionally.