Education Programs

fostering a better future for all living creatures

Education is a core pillar of our mission at the Sanctuary.

Between private and public presentations and Sanctuary tours, we provide roughly 50 educational programs every single year. 

Our team of non-releasable education ambassador animals helps our human neighbors forge deeper, more personal connections to our wild neighbors. We aim to not only foster interest in protecting wildlife but also to equip each and every audience member with the knowledge and tools they need to be an ally for wildlife. 

Our goal is not just to inspire, but to empower! 

jack, the sanctuary's ambassador
red-tailed hawk

meet the ambassadors

learn about & schedule a program

Note: due to a high volume of requests, we are unable to schedule any more educational programs until the beginning of fall 2024. Please check back in!

Program FAQ

Who are rockfish wildlife sanctuary education programs for?

Anyone and everyone! We can cater to any age group, curriculum, or theme, from teaching kindergartners about feathers and birds to speaking with retired folks about wildlife-friendly landscaping practices. We believe it is never too early nor too late to start learning about wildlife. 

Does rws come out to schools and other off-site locations?

Yes! We travel to about 35 different schools, organizations, festivals, and events per year to meet the folks who make our sanctuary possible while introducing them to the very species they help us support. For interested teachers, we are committed to enhancing your school’s science curriculum through experiential learning. We can work alongside you to ensure we help your students meet the Virginia Standards of Learning depending on their grade level and needs. By bringing the environment to your classroom, we aim to enhance the themes your students are learning in exciting, novel ways. 

Rockfish outreach staff will arrive at your school or meeting space with two or three of our education ambassador animals, depending on your interests and curriculum. Our programs can range from 30-90 minutes. We can present to any audience size and typically spend 2/3 of the time period presenting our animals and information while the rest of the time is devoted to answering questions. We have species-specific coloring sheets and informational booklets available to bring along, if that would be beneficial for your audience.

Can My group come to the sanctuary for a tour?

While our facility is typically closed to the public, we are happy to organize a special tour for your group so that your students or community group can learn about wildlife rehabilitation and the species we advocate for. This option may not be a great fit for your kindergarten class, as our animals require calm and quiet visitors, but it might just be the perfect way to introduce your small group (no more than 20 folks) to the wonderful world of working with wildlife. 

When you arrive at our sanctuary in beautiful Nelson County, we will spent some time walking through our main facility building and will explore the outdoor enclosures for our education animals, offering an opportunity to see all of our education ambassador team up close while answering any questions you may have. Tours typically range from 60 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on your schedule and interests.

Is there a fee for rws educational programs?

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary is an entirely donor-funded organization, and we receive no state or federal funding. Because of this, we have a suggested donation of $150-200 for on-site tours, depending on group size. Suggested donations for off-site programs depend on distance we need to travel, ambassadors requested, and audience size - usually between $150-300. However, we are committed to keeping wildlife education accessible and will never deny a group a program for lack of donation. Programs for public school systems are always free with no suggested donation. 

If you’re interested in scheduling an educational program, field trip, or tour with RWS, please send an email to to get the ball rolling. We look forward to meeting you!

Please note that we are closed to the public in order to maintain a natural setting for our wildlife patients. We do offer the ability to schedule a tour or small group viewing, but these must be scheduled in advance. Please email us at if you are interested in scheduling a tour. We look forward to sharing RWS with you!
Due to a high volume of requests, we are unable to schedule educational programs until the beginning of fall 2024.


5450 Wheelers Cove Rd.
Shipman, VA 22971

Our phone number should be used for wildlife emergencies. If you have other general inquiries, we would appreciate you contacting us via email or the contact us form so we can keep our phone line open for wildlife in need. Thank you!          

We are open 365 days per year. We accept new patients between 9AM-4PM. Call first, please!

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2024 © Copyright Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. EIN 51-0498181.
Thank you for supporting our mission to help native wildlife in Virginia and beyond.