Jessica’s passion for wolves is innate, part of her being. When she was a little girl, she was enamored with the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone. She would clip articles about the wolves and when her mom asked why, she said, “I want to write to these biologists and do what they do someday.”
Little did she know that she would meet one of those biologists later on in life: our very own Suzanne Asha Stone! And better yet, she would join Suzanne at the International Wildlife Coexistence Network to work together to help people better understand how to coexist with wolves and other wildlife. It’s a dream come true.
But Jessica did not take a direct path to her work with wildlife. “I was never good at math or science, so I did not enter a field that would naturally take me to working with wolves.” Instead, Jessica jumped into corporate life, working overseas in Hong Kong and Singapore. But she still had this dream to work with animals and better the environment. “I tried to do it on the side, as a volunteer, but it was not enough.”
“When I was overseas, I met a woman named Louise Rogerson. Louise left her corporate life and income to follow her passion: providing sanctuary to working elephants. She was running EarsAsia, where she would identify elephants in SE Asia and Cambodia who were in the entertainment, tourism or working industries and campaign to bring them to sanctuaries. I spent time with her and an elephant named Sombo. She was the last working elephant in Phnom Penh who was giving rides for over 20 years. Spending time with Louise motivated me to follow my dreams.”
“When my husband and I flew back to the States, he asked me what was the first thing I wanted to do. I told him, ‘Go to a wolf sanctuary!’ That weekend, I went to the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Sanctuary in Divide. And while they did not need any more marketing volunteers, they steered me to W.O.L.F. Sanctuary in Colorado where I met the Executive Director, Dr. Shelley Coldiron, and fell in love with their organization.” Her volunteer work evolved and today she is on the staff as the director of development, fundraising and marketing.
Wolves have played a starring role in her life from the start. “Looking back at home videos from a Christmas when I was about eight years old, I was opening presents and they were all wolf related. A wolf towel and a wolf stuffed animal. My first dress was a wolf dress and it was black and neon fuchsia with glittery wolves in the middle. My mom thought it was a terrible looking dress, but she said, ‘If you pass your swimming class lessons, you can wear your wolf dress to school for your first day,” and I did!”
When she and her husband were preparing to welcome a child of their own, she opened a book called American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee that talked about the Druid Peak pack in Yellowstone. “The books referred to the pack as the Royalty of Yellowstone, like the Kennedys, and remarked on their loyalty to one another! We decided to name our child after the Druids: Druid Gray.” He is now three years old and surrounded by wolf toys, books and even some heirlooms from the Druid pack. Druid knows some of the wolves at the W.O.L.F. Sanctuary and is an avid wildlife lover. “We have an encyclopedia of animals and he can name almost every animal in it. He loves his animals and dinosaurs so very much. We play a game every night at bedtime, where we name an animal for each letter of the alphabet. Sometimes, he wants me to name up to eight animals per letter!”
“We are currently remodeling our home in Philadelphia and, as a surprise from my husband, he had an artist paint a big picture of a wolf: Druid 21 that we have placed on one of the walls. I also have a neon sign that says, “She Runs with Wolves,” and multiple shadow boxes on display featuring original pawprint castings from the wolf residents who passed on to another life at W.O.L.F. Sanctuary.
Jessica has spent a lot of time over the years thinking about what coexistence means. To her, coexistence means sharing this world and making room for the essential inhabitants that were here before us, by embracing their positive attributes and the beauty they bring to this world. Coexistence is working harmoniously and respecting all of the world’s inhabitants.”
She hopes that through education, people will stop living in fear and misunderstanding and listen to the science and the facts around wildlife and apex predators. “We need to treasure and respect wildlife and our natural resources, before it’s too late for future generations, like my son.”
Jessica is thrilled to be working with Suzanne and the rest of our IWCN team. She will continue to work with the W.O.L.F. Sanctuary as well, splitting her time and talents between the two organizations.