Nature’s Nursery rescues and rehabilitates thousands of animals each year. Posting photos of their latest rescues on Instagram or hosting educational nature programs for all ages, this pillar of animal safety and preservation in Northwest Ohio for three decades, the demand for their services continues to grow and so does their need for additional space.
Nature’s Nursery started in May 1989, out of founders’ Deb and Dave Cooper’s three-bedroom farmhouse. The Coopers, with the help of Laura Zitzelberger, assisted just under 200 animals in their first year, a number that pales in comparison to their current census of nearly 4,000 animals per year.
Blue Creek Farmhouse
The Nature’s Nursery team has operated out of a farmhouse in Blue Creek Conservation Area in Whitehouse since 2006. According to Zitzelberger, they outgrew that new home within three years.
They have set their sights on a customized, state-of-the-art facility with ample space for onsite education and various medical clinics. More recently, that has become a more dire need. “We’ve seriously been thinking about making the move over the last five or six years,” she said. “And we were always keeping our eyes and ears open for partnerships or property, so that when the opportunity eventually came along, we would be ready for it.”
In late 2020, Courageous Community Services donated 3.7 acres of land to Nature’s Nursery. COVID slowed the planning process. “We had the opportunity to move onto Camp Courageous property and we were looking at building the facility that we really wanted,” Zitzelberger said. “But we kept seeing the budget go higher and higher and it just wasn’t something that was feasible.”
Combine the pandemic interruptions of 2020 with the labor shortages and rising cost of building materials that followed in 2021, and the project was falling further out of reach.
Disheartened and desperate for adequate space to continue their mission, Nature’s Nursery turned their attention to existing buildings and space to renovate with less financial burden.
Flying the Nest
In December 2021, they secured their dream home at 7541 Dutch Rd. in Waterville, previously restaurant and wine bar Zinful. A sprawling property totaling just over seven acres, with help from the community and supporters, they hope to be up and running at the new location by the end of the year.
The public can help with room and habitat sponsorships at various giving levels. There is also a list in the works of requests for services and materials needed for the new set up.
High-level donors will have naming opportunities. Although, as Zitzelberger said, “We have as much need for the $25 donations to help move the process along.”
To learn more about the Nature’s Nursery development and campaign, or to contribute, you can visit the website at Natures-Nursery.org/help/