Staff & Board of Directors


Farzad Farr
Executive Director, Animal Care Instructor

Tara Smith
Full Time Animal Care, Office Administration, Phone Guru, Event Coordinator

Megan Stanton
Part Time Animal Care, Office Administration, CRM Manager, Web Admin

Board of Directors

Cynthia Hagley
As an extension educator, Cindy shares the science of lake and stream management with coastal communities, property owners, educators, and resource managers. Cindy also develops outreach products and programs related to Great Lakes ecosystem research and monitoring, storm water management, shore land property management, aquatic plants and animals, and the relationship between land use and water quality. Cindy holds a M.S. in Aquatic Ecology/Limnology from the University of California Davis and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Shelley Smith
Dr. Smith received her M.S. at Portland State University in 1986, and Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in 1997, both in Communication Studies. She has been faculty at a variety of institutions ranging from small private colleges to large research institutes, and including a Private English school in Greece. She has taught a variety of courses in intercultural and interpersonal communication, intercultural and adult and faculty education, has internationalized the on-campus curriculum, and published articles on intercultural communication competence, ICC training ethics, reentry adjustment, and transformative learning. She recently retired from her position as an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota, Duluth in the Instructional Development Service.

Peggy Naylor
Peggy is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator at Wildwoods. In addition, she manages the Wildwoods Facebook page, has written Wildwoods articles for the Duluth Budgeteer, and is responsible for some of the Wildwoods stories that are picked up by the local and national media. She loves using animals’ individual stories as keys to open hearts and help educate the community about the larger problems facing wildlife and our world.

David Philips
Dave has been on the board of Wildwoods for 3 years. He has been employed in law enforcement for St Louis County for the past 28 years and enjoys boating, diving, and anything having to do with water! His work with wild animals began about 30 years ago as a Community Service Officer providing animal control for Plymouth, Minnesota. Dave is a strong supporter of the mission of Wildwoods and it grateful for the hard work of all the staff and volunteers who care for all the injured and orphaned wild animals, birds, and raptors.

Laura Novitzki
Laura grew up in Duluth and attended both the University of Minnesota, Duluth and the University of Minnesota where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education, a Graduate degree in Environmental Health and Safety, and a Graduate degree in Natural Resources Science and Management. Following college, she worked as an environmental educator for the National Park Service and the Minneapolis Park Board. Since 2004, she has been working as an environmental consultant in the Duluth area, with specific experience in environmental assessment and remediation, safety, ecological risk assessment, quality management, and industrial hygiene. Since childhood, Laura has had a love for animals and a natural instinct to try to help wildlife in need. Through the years, she has come across a number of orphaned or injured animals and has volunteered with three wildlife rehabilitation organizations. One of her most memorable wildlife tales is when a duck fell from the sky right in front of her after hitting a power line. (That duck was successfully rehabilitated and released.)

Mike Schrage
Mike is a Wildlife Biologist at Fond du Lac Resources Management Division. Mike has been living in Duluth and Cloquet area for the last 22 years. In his spare time, he enjoys fishing, hunting, tending to pollinator garden and hiking the many trails around Duluth. He is an active member of Peace United of Christ and the Izaak Walton League.

Elda Hein
Elda grew up on the range in Minnesota and then received her bachelor degree from UMD with a major in Secondary English. Her first job as teacher and coach was in Worthington, Minnesota, where she met Rex. She followed him to Morris and taught at Herman-Norcross K-12 school. After coming to Duluth, she subbed many years in the Barnum 7-12 schools. Her favorite pastimes are playing tennis, reading and doing any sort of puzzle. The latest overwhelming interest is in Wildwoods. She and Rex drove over 15,000 miles of transport in 2016. She volunteers to do many other things at Wildwoods, as this has become her passion.

Rex Hein
Rex earned his bachelor degree in social studies from University of Missouri, Kansas City. While doing that, he pitched for the Kansas City Royals minor leagues in the summers. After teaching and coaching for six years in Missouri, he went back to school and got his masters degree in Education Administration. That led to a job in southwestern Minnesota as assistant principal of Worthington Senior High School. He went on to be principal of Morris Area High School, and then director of curriculum for the Duluth school system, and currently works two days a week in the mail room. He is active in French River Lutheran Church in church council, call committee, and hand bell choir. During his tenure in Morris, he was also a grant writer and successfully applied for multiple grants responsible for eight trips for teachers, students and townspeople to Chelyabinsk, Russia.

Jim McLean
Jim is registered nurse who recently retired from the Minnesota Department of Health where he administered a state-wide breast and cervical cancer screening program for 20 years. Since retiring in 2014, he has been actively volunteering with Twin Ports Habitat for Humanity, Animal Allies, the Chum Food Shelf, and various activities at Peace UCC. Wildwoods has been a recent, and wonderful, addition to that list. He and his wife have also been doing a lot of traveling.

Leslie Clapper-Rentz
After graduating with a B.A. in Biology from the University of Minnesota, Moris, Leslie spent a year as a field biologist for a Native American tribe in South Dakota. While there she began volunteering for a wildlife rehabilitation organization and adopted a "hard luck" rescue dog. Those experiences led her to pursue a career as a veterinarian. She received her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 2005 and currently works at Airport Animal Hospital in Duluth, is the consulting veterinarian for the Great Lakes Aquarium, and serves on the board of directors for the Arrowhead Veterinary Medical Association.

Greg Gilbert
In 2007, Greg Gilbert started his own law firm in Duluth, Minnesota, after practicing law 22 years with a large firm. Most recently, Mr. Gilbert completed a 12-year term on the Duluth City Council, which gives us a unique understanding of the area to better serve our clients.

Dr Lisa Jeanetta, DVM
Dr. Jeanetta is a native of Duluth. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. After practicing companion animal medicine in St. Paul for several years, she returned to Duluth and joined the Dougherty Veterinary Clinics is 1997. Her interests include feline medicine, avian/exotic/pocket pets and ophthalmology. Dr. Jeanetta is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners. She regularly attends the meetings of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.