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The Tega Cay Wildlife Conservation Society was established in 2023 to protect our wildlife and preserve their natural habitats.

Overdevelopment and destruction of our forests

have left many innocent creatures without homes and they have found refuge in Tega Cay. 

Animal welfare and environmental concerns have empowered us to research wildlife management solutions while collaborating with like-minded organizations and communities to protect wildlife and preserve their natural habitats.

Through public education on living harmoniously with wildlife and environmental conservation, we aim to reduce human-wildlife conflicts and foster a culture of compassion and kindness.


Ruthie Smith

I strongly believe that everyone has a purpose in life, and I was fortunate to realize mine at a young age. Animal welfare is my ambition, and I work tirelessly to implement compassion and care for all animal life. I choose to be a voice for the innocent and vulnerable creatures that have none. 

My passion has inspired my co-founders and me to establish TCWCS. Our motivation is guided by empathy, kindness, and integrity, and our goal is simple: to protect, preserve and promote the welfare of wildlife, its habitats and natural surroundings. Please join us in our mission!

Quote from Co-Founder of Best Friends Animal Society, Silva Battista:

“If you don’t understand or accept the basic principle of kindness – that it is an unbroken continuum that encompasses all life, including the animals, and if you dismiss this as not being important – you won’t get anything else right.”


Stephanie Kessl

There has never been a time in my life that I haven't felt deeply connected to animals, trees, and flowers. I was always the little kid who helped the worms on the sidewalks, stopped to find that 1 bird deep in the branches overhead singing their little heart out, and who shared my lunch bite-for-bite with my dogs, Foxy and Princess.


Now that I am grown up, I have used my passion for animals and nature and have helped over 200 cats and dogs find their forever homes, collected and composted 100'slbs of food scraps that would have otherwise gone into a landfill, and am currently learning more about SC native plants to support our local pollinators- bats being my favorite!


I feel wildly blessed, committed, and excited to be part of this new conservation society that has already accomplished so much together. It is the coming together of passions that are aligned by shared values. With the help of our community members, leaders, and hard work, I look forward to finding more ways we can set and achieve our goals to protect, preserve, and promote all who call Tega Cay home because I believe Tega Cay's wildlife and habitats are too precious to leave to chance.

Photo Apr 09 2024, 3 34 08 PM_edited.jpg

Mary Hayes Ickert

“One of my earliest childhood memories was trudging out into the snow-covered ground in upstate Connecticut to help my Dad refill the bird feeders. Later I learned that he wasn't just feeding the birds but also the squirrels. I remember sitting in front of our big picture window drinking hot chocolate watching the birds flock to the feeder and the squirrels below eating what had fallen out. A few minutes later a fox came out of the woods and I remember watching these 3 different species all share a meal and a moment in the snowy bliss of our backyard where despite their differences, they felt safe and secure.

That image still pops up in my mind as my love and desire for animals to feel safe and protected has grown over the years. From volunteering at local dog shelters to assisting with rescuing baby raccoons to our now beloved deer population, my passion is stronger than ever to be a voice for those who can not speak for themselves. Animals deserve our compassion and our respect and it's an honor to now be a part of the Tega Cay Wildlife Conservation Society where our vision is to not just help protect our wildlife, but also the environment we all share in harmony under our own bird feeder we call home."


Alicia Formato

My earliest memories are of playing "wildlife biologist veterinarian" and caring for all of the different species who were receiving treatment in my little animal hospital.

Growing up I was always intrigued by science and surrounded by animals.


Many years later, during college, I studied environmental conservation biology but ended up working in human medicine.


Hiking and exploring nature trails-- alongside my soulmate Catahoula leopard dog-- has always been a spiritual refuge for me.

I have always been fascinated with human's place in nature. I believe that we are stewards of this Earth, we must take care of the life around us--and we must also appreciate that we ARE nature ourselves.

This knowledge of the interconnectedness of Life on Earth is what brings me joy and peace, and what motivates me to be a voice for the voiceless, to stand up for wildlife and habitats in our community.

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