MEDFORD >> Jeanne Gural, longtime executive director of Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, will leave the organization that grew exponentially in size, staff, funding and animal impact during her 10 years at its helm. Cedar Run is recognized as the state’s busiest wildlife rehabilitation hospital and one of its busiest environmental education centers, due largely to Gural’s leadership.
“We've become a regional leader in wildlife rehabilitation; our education programs have won awards and engaged tens of thousands of children; and we've become a destination and source of science-based information,” Gural said. Yet she is called to new challenges like the one that awaits at The Wilderness Center in Wilmot, Ohio, where she will serve as the next executive director.
Cedar Run is a 171-acre wildlife refuge, rehabilitation hospital and environmental education center with a mission of preserving New Jersey's wildlife and habitats through conservation, rehabilitation and education. Under Gural’s direction, it has doubled in size and membership count. The refuge has grown to include Woodford Nature Center, the outdoor Wildlife Housing area with more than 60 native residents, and a federally and state-licensed hospital that cares for nearly 5,000 injured, orphaned or displaced native wildlife each year.
Gural also helped expand Cedar Run’s education programs. More than 20,000 students annually experience education and outreach programs, both on-site and in their schools’ classrooms. The programs are designed to complement state and federal learning standards, and are readily adaptable for private schools, homeschool curricula, youth groups and adult lessons.
Gural grew up in Palmyra and graduated from Palmyra High School in 1981. She went on to Pitzer College, one of the Claremont Colleges in California, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in Organismal Biology and Biological Anthropology. While based there, Gural also worked on wildlife- and habitat-focused projects in Venezuela, Mexico, Jamaica, Costa Rice and Panama. She has completed graduate-level work in Ecology, Plant Identification, Wildlife Ecology and Habitat Restoration. Gural served as the Ecological Restoration Program Manager for Rutgers University, and as Director of Preserves for The Nature Conservancy. In 2018, the National Association of Women Business Owners of South Jersey named Gural “Environmental Advocate of the Year.”
“I always have tried to be a voice for wildlife and environmental education, and habitat and wildlife conservation,” Gural said. “I truly love Cedar Run. I love the people, the organization’s mission, the wildlife, the trails. And I will miss all of it.”
Gural’s activities have not been limited to Cedar Run. She has worked on a 9-mile, multi-town trail from Medford to Evesham, and helped create state-level legislation on behalf of wildlife and wildlife rehabilitation. Gural also has assisted with the design, planning, and curricula for three outdoor classrooms in local elementary schools.
Gural’s last day at Cedar Run will be Oct. 31.
In mid-November, she’ll start work at The Wilderness Center. That organization offers a wide range of ecological programming for all ages and protects approximately 4,000 acres of natural land across northeast Ohio.