Founded in 2004 and run for over 17 years as an outreach educational program only, the Wildlife Encounters Ecology Center & Farm School today is a private nature-based educational entity that has grown and developed to manage a 77 acre nature preserve in Barrington, NH and a USDA licensed dependent-wildlife sanctuary in Rochester.
Developing on-site programming, events, trails and more at the Barrington location, private guided Sanctuary Tours in Rochester and a new exciting Membership Program are now available, as are our extremely popular Community Outreach live-animal presentations – all of which are offered with the goal of connecting and educating kids and adults alike on a wide variety of environmental, animal, and personal health and wellness topics!
Enjoy exploring our NEW WEBSITE launched post-Pandemic during the summer of 2021. Be sure to connect with us on social media, and consider a low-cost Membership so you may benefit from all it has to offer!
Kids, it’s time to turn a little screen time into “green time”! Together, let’s unplug and reconnect with Nature, and Human Nature!
Mission & Values
We believe that public education, and a resulting change in human and societal behaviors and practices, are key to the objective of living environmentally and personally responsible lives that will help conserve and protect global biodiversity.
Our philosophy, morality, conduct and messages focus on communicating the interdependent relationship between our three core mission components: Animals, People and Earth.
We are excited to introduce you to our dependent, non-releasable Ambassador Animals! Our dedicated staff and animals have been working together since 2004 to connect students and the public with science, conservation, nature & human nature. Our ambassador animals span across the spectrum of native New England wildlife, wildlife native to other habitats across the globe, small animals commonly seen as pets, and domestic farm animal breeds.
Our animals live with us because they were either:
- Injured in the wild and are not able to survive independently, and subsequently placed in our care through a rehabilitation facility.
- Exploited by the illegal trade in wildlife and placed with us by law enforcement authorities.
- Captive-bred in a US-based protected environment to participate in public education and species/biodiversity conservation efforts.
KEY to Understanding Our Animals!
- Due to legal restrictions, we are prohibited from allowing public contact with many of our animals. This varies a bit by state, but to help you understand… if the species below is colored BLACK – then NO CONTACT. If it is GREEN, then contact may be allowed at our discretion.
- Not all of our animals travel / participate in Outreach Programs! Others leave our facilities only with senior staff, and only under circumstances such as certain school programs… but are otherwise not available to go to birthdays, summer camps and other less structured venues.
To help you understand what animals are available for different outreach venues:
* means they do not travel but are at our facilities for when you visit us!
~ means they may visit certain locations such as schools and science centers, only, but not birthdays, summer camps, etc. Are usually at our facilities for when you visit us.
No designation means they are approved for all on-site and off-site activities without restriction, as available :),
About Our Animals
- * African Crested Porcupine
- * African Serval Wildcat
- ~ Gray Fox
- ~ Brazilian “Monkey-tailed” Porcupine
- ~ South American Coatimundi
- ~ Brush-tailed Bettong (rat-kangaroo)
- ~ Black-tailed Prairie Dog
- Bennett’s Wallaby
- Fennec Fox
- North American Opossum
- 3-Banded Armadillo
- Patagonian Cavy / Mara
- African Pygmy Hedgehog
- Australian Lesser Flying Phalangers (sugar gliders)
- Guinea Pig
- * Smooth-fronted Caiman
- American Alligator
- Bosc Monitor Lizard
- Argentine Giant Tegu Lizard
- Red Tegu Lizard
- Blue-tongued Skink
- Australian Bearded Dragon
- Crested Gecko
- Veiled Chameleon
- Burmese Python
- Reticulated Python~
- Australian Carpet Python
- Australian Woma Python
- African Royal Python
- Red-tailed Boa Constrictor
- California Banded Kingsnake
- Corn Snake
- Hognose Snake
- Sulcata Tortoise
- Leopard Tortoise
- Red-footed Tortoise
- Russian Tortoise
- Hermann’s Tortoise
- Box Turtles
- Northern Snapping Turtles
- Alligator Snapping Turtles
- Red-eared Slider Turtle
- Painted Turtle
- * Turkey Vulture
- * Indian Peacock / peafowl
- * Turkey
- Green wing Macaw
- Blue & Yellow Macaw
- Moluccan Cockatoo
- White (Umbrella) Cockatoo
- Green-cheeked Conure
AMPHIBIANS & INVERTEBRATES
- Giant Marine Toad (cane toad)
- African Giant Bullfrog
- Australian White’s Tree Frog
- Red-eyed Tree Frog
- African Emperor Scorpion
- African Giant Millipedes
- Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches
NOTE – despite a lack of legal restrictions, we do not allow physical contact with extremely sensitive, or venomous species
- * Pony
- * Sicilian Mini-donkey
- ~ Katahdin Hair Sheep
- ~ Mini-pigs
- ~ Dwarf Pygmy Goats
- ~ Buff Orpington chickens
- Flemish Giant Rabbit
- Lop Rabbits
- Himalayan Maned Rabbits
Meet Our Animals!
Meet Our Team
The Staff and Education Team at our Wildlife Encounters is a small and extremely dedicated group of teachers, naturalists, and animal care professionals that are passionate about education, helping others engage in and understand the natural world, and of course – helping animals in need.
Founder, Director, & Environmental Educator
Derek has been delivering live-animal educational programming in New England for 18 years. He is known as an excellent teacher, environmental steward, and professional presenter. He is a member of the Zoological Association of America, the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, and a consultant to Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, among other notable positions.
Outreach Programs Office Manager, Environmental Educator & Co-Owner
Jenn is critical to our business and outreach at Wildlife Encounters. A resident of Rochester NH, she has worked with us since 2012 and especially enjoys time with and learning and teaching about our birds. Jenn handles everything from the back of the house operations to program delivery.
Senior Environmental Educator
Drew has her BS in Environmental Conservation & Sustainability and splits her time with us evenly between program delivery (she especially finds reward in working with intensive needs groups) and working in-house at the Ecology Center’s facilities making sure the animals’ “downtime” is comfortable and all their needs are met!
Animal Behavior Enrichment Coordinator & Senior Environmental Educator
Jean has spent her life studying, caring for, and teaching about animals. She grew up on a dairy farm and graduated from U Mass Amherst with a BS in Natural Resource Studies. She taught middle and high school biology and zoology for over 30 years and has spent countless hours volunteering in wildlife rehabilitation and educational facilities. We are lucky to have her!
Volunteer, Tour Assistant, & Junior Educator
Riley helps us do it all. She has grown up with the staff and the animals at Wildlife Encounters as a part of her everyday life. You may see her supporting tours, assisting in outreach programs, and helping to groom and care for certain animals.
We are always looking for individuals who are skilled and want to share their passion! Feel free to connect with us anytime regarding opportunities to work with our team as a volunteer, intern or even employee!
Our USDA-licensed legacy facility of the last 18 years, features indoor and outdoor habitats for many of our dependent Ambassador Animals, due to the seasonality of our New England climate and the biodiversity of species in our care.
Effective September 2020, we offer small group guided Sanctuary Tours. Animal on exhibit at any particular visit will vary based on a variety of factors, including the fact that this facility also supports our Community Outreach services.
Check the On-Site Programs page for details and to come visit us!!
Our second USDA-licensed location is 8.6 miles south on Beauty Hill in Barrington. In the summer of 2017, we secured a deal to preserve the historic 77-acre Swain family farmstead, developing it into a nature preserve, endangered native species protected habitat, and our developing “Ecology Center & Farm School.”
We envision this space offering a unique science and nature-based community education experience here in the NH Seacoast region! Featuring an old historic farmhouse, a recently re-located barn, and education field at the roadside and a forest full of small ponds, vernal pools, seasonal wetlands, an upland ridge and steep hillsides with small cliffs – the old farm roads and new trails offer opportunities for endless guided immersive learning and experiences!
Neither location features a zoo, nature park or public trails. We are fully insured, as well as licensed/permitted and inspected by the USDA, US Fisheries & Wildlife, NH Fish & Game, and other local, state and federal agencies, authorities and organizations with concern for animal and environmental welfare. Learn more below in our FAQs.
Ambassador Animal Facility
In The Cloud (Virtual)
Serving Anywhere & Everywhere!
Animal Presentations – Wildlife Encounters!
Perfect for classrooms, camps, community recreation programs and more, all managed through screen sharing services like Zoom!
No. Though some of our legal permits and inspections are the same that Zoo’s are required to maintain and pass, neither our Ambassador Animal Sanctuary nor the Ecology Center & Farm School property in Barrington are zoos or public nature parks where the public can just visit unannounced and pay admission. All of our services at this time are offered by appointment / booking and are guided or instructor-led experiences. Worth noting however that the owners and some staff are however professional members of various zoological, wildlife and conservation entities and many have degrees in biology, ecology, sustainable agriculture, conservation and more.
We are licensed / permitted as necessary to import and exhibit our Ambassador Animals in the following New England states – NH, ME, MA, VT & CT. *Some animals do not do outreach, some farm animals do not leave NH, and some services are offered for a limited travel distance. Presentations offered ANYWERE online through Zoom, Google Meets, and more!
The most fundamental biological mandate of all living things is to reproduce and pass on it’s genetic traits. It is the root of all biological desires and behaviors, and the most natural “right” of all things to pursue in the attempt to ensure the survival of it’s species. The conservation of biodiversity and preservation / restoration of populations of many plants and animals, from the American Chestnut Tree to the California Condor depend strongly on well managed captive breeding programs, which we strongly support, but do not participate in directly.
We directly invested in and work daily to conserve the habitats and species that call home, our 77 acre nature preserve. Education of the public on conservation issues so they can make informed decisions with regard to land management, goods & food consumption and more is a pillar of our daily efforts. We also actively support, advocate for and network with our peers and friends with complimentary missions, from our local Conservation Commission, to our state agency, the the NWF & WWF.
Though we do not currently participate in any of the reproductive conservation efforts (AMP/SSP) for captive propagation of endangered species, we do support and advocate for them so long as they are conducted ethically and as naturally as possible. Furthermore, we fundamentally disagree with and strongly oppose the efforts by small ideologically-driven segments of society to deprive domestic and wild animals and plants of their reproductive rights – and further oppose their long term agenda of domestic animal extinction and exclusion of animals from human society.
Yes. We are fully licensed and permitted, regularly visited and/or inspected by and in compliance with: the City of Rochester, Town of Barrington, Rochester PD/Animal Control, NH Fish & Game, NH Department of Agriculture, USDA, and US Fisheries & Wildlife.