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.
Margaret Pickell – Operations Manager
Margaret Pickell is one of the Operations Managers at the Wildlife Center of Texas in Houston. She is responsible for the training and coordination of over 500 volunteers. The center takes in over 10,000 animals a year where Margaret oversees their feeding, medications and housing needs.
Margaret has been a state and federally permitted wildlife rehabilitator for 30 years. She specializes in birds with an emphasis on water birds, songbirds and raptors.
She has been a certified Texas Master Naturalist for over 20 years.
For the past twenty years, Margaret has combined her respect for wildlife along with her passion to educate thousands of children on the subject of environmental education.
Debbie Mitchell – Operations Manager
Debbie Mitchell is one of the Operations Managers at the Wildlife Center of Texas in Houston. She is responsible for the purchase and distribution of all food, supplies and medications necessary to run a rehabilitation facility of this size. She also oversees the feeding, medications and housing needs of the over 10,000 animals that come through the door each year.
Debbie has been a state and federally permitted rehabilitator for 20 years and has been on the oiled wildlife response team for 13 years. She has completed the 24 hour HAZWOPER training and ICS 100,200,300,400, 700 and 800. She has a TWIC card.
Brooke Yahney – Wildlife Rehabilitation Staff
Brooke started at the Wildlife Center of Texas in September of 2014. She is involved with customer service and administrative tasks at the center, along with general animal care and triage.
After graduating with distinction in University Honors from New Mexico State University, where she received a Bachelor’s of Science in Music Education, Brooke realized another lifelong passion of working with animals. After a brief teaching career, she completed an internship at Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Friday Harbor, WA and at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT in the summer of 2013. Brooke moved to Houston in January of 2014 and briefly worked with the Houston SPCA’s Client Care team before joining the Wildlife Center of Texas.
Brooke loves working with such a large variety of species here at the center and is frequently inspired by how much people can care about life and the natural world.
Ann Mulder — Wildlife Rehabilitation Staff
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. She is also a current member of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association. In March 2016, a full-time position became available, and 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. The staff position has given Ann an opportunity to learn more about the customer service aspect of center operation. One of the things she enjoys most about this part of her job is interacting with members of the public who take the time, and sometimes go to great lengths, to help wildlife.