Library IT Manager doubles as a wolf nanny
Joanne Wessels is a mild-mannered IT Manager at the Sanibel Public Library. But for one period during the year the sweet voiced library employee swaps her structured life of working with and maintaining the library’s computers to roughing it as a wolf nanny at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota.
Wessels will be showing a slide show about her experiences working with wolf pups during Library Employee Week. In her program – “Wolves: Up Close and Personal” – Wessels will discuss her work with wolves on Thursday, Feb. 12 at 2 p.m.
Wessels said she has been going to the International Wolf Center every summer for about six years. There she said she tends to and socializes wolf pups so that they can be around veterinarians when they grow older and bigger.
“They’re very shy of humans,” she said.
The point of the socialization is part of the International Wolf Center’s bigger picture to help the canines survive. According to its web site www.wolf.org, the International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future.
Wessels became involved with the Sierra Club years ago – which led to her working with black bears in a program. Some years after that she became involved with the Wolf Center.
Wolves strong sense of family and nurturing behavior draw Wessels.
“They’re fierce but above all else they take care of the pups,” she said.
Caring for the wolf pups also fulfills the need for a bit of spontaneity and liveliness in her otherwise well ordered life dealing with computers.
“It’s 180 degrees from my work life,” she said. “It’s a total release. You can’t predict. It’s refreshing to me.”
Sharee Johnson, director for the interpretive center, said volunteers and wolf nannys like Wessels are vital to maintaining the program. Though the wolf nanny program is not open to many because of the rigor, time and training needed, there are many other opportunities available at the International Wolf Center, including being a volunteer for its ambassador program.
But those still interested in working with wolf pups can check out the Center’s web site in three years when pup training will be available. The Center only gets wolf pups every four years.