I have always been an avid lover of wildlife and music. The extinction crisis, and particularly the plight of the red wolf, sparked an idea to merge these two passions to create the annual Concert for Conservation. These concerts aim to raise awareness of the extinction crisis within the faith community of North Carolina as well as raise funds for critically endangered species. The 2019 and 2020 Concerts for Conservation feature the red wolf because it is uniquely “All-American,” with its entire historical range confined within what is now the United States. Once roaming as far west as Texas, down into Florida, and up into the Midwest, the red wolf now persists in only a fraction of its range - just over 1.7 million acres throughout northeastern North Carolina, including Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge - and there are fewer than 20 left in the wild.
The first annual Concert for Conservation raised nearly $6,000 for the Defenders of Wildlife red wolf fund. This helped Defenders purchase soft-release pens for the transfer and reintroduction of red wolves in the recovery area. Not only did the 2019 concert make a difference for wild red wolves, but it also made a difference in Waynesville, NC. Community members of all ages were energized and motivated to ensure a future for red wolves in our state and requested we focus on the red wolf for one more concert.
The community’s support and dedication to this species was far beyond what I could have expected or hoped for and I have been overwhelmed with the support and attention this event received from the community and beyond. It has been such a pleasure to facilitate an event that unites the faith community, musicians, local businesses who sponsor the concert and conservation organizations. Grassroots events such as this are essential for bringing new audiences into the wildlife conservation community and (in the case of the 2019 and 2020 concerts) raising awareness for an iconic part of our state’s natural heritage, the red wolf.
We’ve come up with a fun and easy way for you to participate in advocacy efforts supporting the red wolf this year since the concert is virtual! First, you’ll need to think about why red wolf recovery and conservation is important to you…To participate, please download the image below. Once you’ve downloaded the photo, simply fill in the blank however you like, and share your personalized photo on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #SaveTheRedWolf and tagging Defenders of Wildlife.
My goal for the Concert for Conservation is that it will continue to benefit critically endangered species each year, not only through raising money, but also raising awareness in the community. We plan to select a new species each year, rotating between local, national and global species. Throughout the coming years, I hope to broaden our impact by encouraging other churches in North Carolina and throughout the country to host their own Concerts for Conservation. Look out for a website and a free handbook for how to organize this type of event in the near future!