Sharon Schmalz – Executive Director
Sharon Schmalz is executive director of the Wildlife Center of Texas in Houston, Texas. The Wildlife Center cares for approximately 10,000 wild animals each year and educates over 50,000 adults and children about wildlife, conservation and the environment.
The Wildlife Center works closely with the Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine professors and students. Ms. Schmalz is the representative for the Wildlife Center of Texas on the advisory council for the Texas State Animal Resource Team (TXSART), a program of the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation that coordinates preparedness, response and recovery efforts for animals affected by disasters in the state of Texas.
For 32 years, Ms. Schmalz has maintained the multiple state and federal permits necessary to care for injured, orphaned, endangered, educational and oiled wildlife. A founding member of the Wildlife Center of Texas Oiled Wildlife Response Team, she has acted as the director for 25 years. The team responds to oiled wildlife in both inland and coastal areas of the Gulf Coast.
Ms. Schmalz is 40 hr. HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) certified and ICS (Incident Command System) trained to care for oil-contaminated wildlife. She maintains a TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Card) card to allow for the collection of oiled wildlife in locations sensitive to Homeland Security such as ship channels and ports.
She was involved in the development of the “Best Practices for Migratory Bird Care During Oil Spill Response” document in Anchorage, Alaska in 2001. For 11 years, Ms. Schmalz has coordinated oiled wildlife response workshops for the Texas General Land Office and for industry and maintained the resulting database of potential volunteers for response.
Ann Mulder – Hospital Manager
Having started volunteering in 2012, Ann is no stranger to The Wildlife Center of Texas. Prior to her position with us, Ann was a technical writer in the plastics and oil and gas industries for 14 years. When an opportunity to volunteer at The Wildlife Center of Texas came up, she did not hesitate. Volunteering a few hours one day a week quickly turned into three full days a week. Since 2012, Ann has amassed over 4,100 volunteer hours and has become closely involved with many aspects of center operation. When a full-time position became available in 2016, it was a natural next step for Ann to join The Wildlife Center of Texas staff.
As our hospital grows into one of the largest in the country, Ann’s background in professional technical writing has become a real asset to our team. While she continues to be closely involved with all aspects of patient medical and supportive care, Ann is also helping develop and maintain the center’s safety policies and procedures. She is also a current member of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association.
Brooke Yahney – Operations Manager
After graduating with University Honors from New Mexico State University, where she received a Bachelor’s in Music Education, Brooke realized another lifelong passion of working with animals. After two years as a band director, she left the teaching field in 2013 to complete a wildlife rehabilitation internship at Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Friday Harbor, WA. Brooke moved to Houston from New Mexico in January of 2014 and briefly worked with the Houston SPCA’s Adoptions team before joining the Wildlife Center of Texas.
Since joining WCT, Brooke has focused on customer service and administrative tasks alongside animal care. She now manages daily operations, including keeping supplies stocked and compiling the endless records needed to keep our permits valid. When not at the center, Brooke keeps her musical talents sharp by participating in a community band and show choir and enjoys time with her partner and their two cats.
Jessica Urzua – Animal Care Staff
Being around animals has always made Jessica happy. She jumped at the opportunity to work at the Houston SPCA starting in 2013 and loved helping people adopt their perfect new family member. One spring day, the Wildlife Center of Texas put out a call to the SPCA staff for assistance feeding an overabundance of baby squirrels, and Jessica was the first to volunteer. The wildlife center appreciated her help so much that they invited her back the next spring as a seasonal staff member. Eventually, Jessica became an essential part of the team and was invited to stay at the center full-time in 2016. She loves learning about all of the different animals that come through our doors and says she still learns something new every day! When she’s not working, she enjoys hiking and snuggling with her two dogs and parrot.
Sharon Williams – Animal Care Staff
Shae Bolton – Animal Care Staff
Shae started her animal caretaking journey in college, working as a Kennel Technician at a Huntsville, Texas boarding kennel from 2016 to 2019, while obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from Sam Houston State University. Before graduating, she completed a full-time internship at the Houston Zoo in their Natural Encounters department. During her internship she got to work with various ambassadors and fell in love with native wildlife like the Red-Tailed Hawk and Texas tortoise.
Shortly after graduating university, Shae started her career at the Wildlife Center of Texas in April 2021. She has since cultivated a special appreciation for fox squirrels, shorebirds big and small, and our resident ambassador opossum.
Lindsay Maxfield – Animal Care Staff
Lindsay began her career working with animals in 2003 by volunteering at a horse stable and working at a local, family owned pet store. She soon became involved with the Arizona Herpetological Association at the Phoenix Zoo, working closely with Dr. Todd Driggers DVM and Dr. Richard Funk DVM, and volunteered for the Feathered Friends Festival, educating the public about native wildlife. In 2012 she began working with Liberty Wildlife. Liberty Wildlife is one of the only facilities approved for the rehabilitation of California Condors, and they created the Non-Eagle Feather Repository to provide feathers to federally recognized tribes across the US. While there, she spent most of her time with the medical team and working with raptors, gaining a special affinity for owls and eventually joining the night team for owl care. When she moved to Houston, Lindsay was thrilled to join the staff at The Wildlife Center of Texas and hopes to continue her work rescuing wildlife and educating the public about conservation.
Jenna Michalek – Animal Care Staff
Jenna’s love for animals started at a young age, when she would hang out on the farm with her horses and take her dogs on all her adventures. Her wildlife journey started early as well, when Hurricane Ike blew down a baby squirrel from a nest in her yard. She immediately knew something had to be done to help the little guy. Jenna and her mother brought him straight into the Wildlife Center of Texas, and the moment she walked in it she knew it was where she belonged. 12 years later she enrolled in wildlife courses at the University of Houston, and at the age of 22 she graduated with a Bachelors in Wildlife Biology. She applied and landed a job at WCT just two months later.
Jenna loves seeing and learning about all of the diverse wildlife that comes through our front door. She is excited to come to work every day to help the animals grow and heal and to see them be able to return to the wild. When she is not working, Jenna enjoys hiking and snuggling with her cat, Jasper.
Candace Sayers – Animal Care Staff
Prior to joining the Wildlife Center of Texas Team in September of 2021, Candace completed her Bachelors of Science with an ecology and conservation biology specialization. In school she studied abroad in Vlissingen, Netherlands for environment sustainability and completed undergraduate research in the university greenhouse.
After college, Candace volunteered with Nature’s Nursery Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Whitehouse, Ohio and realized her passion for working with wildlife. She applied and was accepted into an internship and eventually a staff position at Nature’s Nursery. While there, she was involved in patient triage, public education, and animal supportive care. After moving to Houston, she happily joined the Wildlife of Center team. Here, she devotes time to veterinary science and public education. When she’s not at the center, Candace is spending time with her partner, domestic bunny, and two cats.