Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Utah: An Interview with the CEO

“Our goal is to get this foundation established to the point where it can continue running after we are gone.”- MT

I was nervous when I phoned Martin Tyner this morning. This guy is pretty big stuff! And he is doing really big things for animal conservation in southwestern USA. It turns out, Martin is very humble despite his many achievements. As he continues to get pushed toward the limelight, Martin is most comfortable being ‘just a normal Critter Guy’ who will always prefer comfortable clothes and cleaning cages to wearing suits and attending banquets!

Martin is a conservationist and the founder of the Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Utah. He was raised in California as a shy kid who was terrible at school and believed he was dumb. He spent his hours walking in the foothills saving critters and releasing them back into the wild.

Did I mention that Martin is really funny? And that he is a Master Falconer? Here are some notes he shared during our interview:

“A Master Falconer is just a fancy name for someone who has been practising the art of falconry for a minimum of seven years, licensed. As a teenager I studied under a master falconer from Hungary, an amazing man who took me under his wing (get it?) and taught me how to fly birds!

The funny thing is that as a child I was terrified of birds. My Grandma was my rock and I would spend my summers with her. She found out about my bird phobia so got me a pet pigeon named George. Every weekend I was responsible for caring for George, including putting my hand in his enclosure to feed him. My older brother was much bigger than me and would push me around. George was so great. He would fly up and poop on my brother’s head!

When my amazing Grandmother saw my report card full of D’s and F’s she asked me why my grades were so bad. I confessed to her that I believed I was too dumb for school. She got intense and made it her mission to sit with me after school and while the other kids were playing, taught me academics. She literally saved my life.”

Martin lives in Utah with his wife Susan, who he describes as ‘beautiful’. They pay the bills running a pet store and grooming shop. The rest of the time is spent working on a 23 acre lot of land in Cedar City where injured wildlife are rehabilitated and released back into the wild. There is a waterfall there that pours through the property!

Recently,Rocky Mountain Power donated one million dollars of property to the foundation in order to establish a permanent facility and a nature park for children where they can learn all about wildlife.

And currently, Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Utah is a semi-finalist for a global award for animal conservation called The Indianapolis Prize!

Martin’s list of achievements is long and you can find out all about him and the foundation at http://www.gowildlife.org. I like to focus here on the person he is alongside his beautiful wife, Susan:

“We are getting older. Our goal is to get this foundation established to the point where it can continue running after we are gone. I am not the guy who likes being at the front so I would love to pass the foundation on and spend my older years just caring for the critters.”

Martin and Susan have done a lot of community work and also educational presentations for children (with animals and birds of course! Martin says he is nervous on a stage without his critters!).

As I mentioned, Martin is quite funny so if you want to read some great wildlife stories you can purchase his book called ‘Healer of Angels‘. Of course we can all order his book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the usual sources, but if you order it through the website, your money goes to the animals!

Please support Martin and Susan by liking, sharing and checking out the website! These guys are amazing!

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