wildlife associates history

our history

Founded in 1980 by renowned environmental educator Steve Karlin, Wildlife Associates was the product of two things—his long study of the evolution of human learning, and a strong belief that humans need to better perceive their relationship with the living world. He knew that these educational experiences needed to be transformative—and they needed to bridge the chasm between the human and wild worlds.

Believing that an interactive, whole-brain educational model would engage their creativity and empathy, Steve used children’s natural connection with animals to pioneer a unique methodology in which the animals themselves were the teachers.

Steve initially did his science assemblies with a few reptile companions, but teachers soon wanted more programs—with more animals. It didn’t take him too long to find more; sadly, there are many animals, of all varieties, in need of rescue and care.

Once Steve had the animals he needed, he gathered a professional staff of wildlife specialists, naturalists and environmental educators that became the “associates” in Wildlife Associates. They ran the programs out of a donated portion of a Pacifica, CA, ranch, moving to their 120-acre sanctuary in Half Moon Bay in 2000.

Having educated over 8 million students since 1980, and adding animal education programs for adults and at-risk teens, it has grown into one of the foremost organizations of its kind and continues to receive national acclaim.

our mission

Wildlife Associates provides stimulating, enriching educational programs that inspire and nurture empathy, understanding and respect for all living things and offers innovative care for the non-releasable wildlife in our sanctuary.

Steve Karlin is a former National Park Service ranger, renowned environmental educator and award-winning environmental reporter who has appeared on local and national news, PBS, CNN, Larry King Live, Discovery, Disney, Animal Planet, National Geographic Explorer and on his own nationally syndicated environmental news segment, Earth Journal.