About Forgotten Friend
By Jesse Rothacker, Forgotten Friend's Founder and President
Growing up, I was fascinated every time I found a lizard, frog, or snake in the wild. As a teenager I got my first pet reptile, a corn snake named Leon, and I was hooked! But when I checked with our local animal shelter about adopting reptiles, I found out there were no reptile rescue specialists in our area. That's when I decided to start a rescue myself.
In 2004 I took out an ad in the local newspaper offering to provide good homes for unwanted
pet reptiles, and the phone started ringing. Before long, I was giving all my spare time and money to save unwanted reptiles from all over our region.
Naturally my passion for herpetology spilled into every area of my life. I started bringing rescued reptiles to
Crossfire Youth Center, a youth group where my wife and I volunteered. I discovered that kids loved meeting live reptiles as much as I loved sharing them. Soon I started offering programs to local schools, churches, and family events. It was a great way to share our educational mission, and it helped pay the bills! Before long we had done dozens of shows -- then hundreds -- for schools, churches, scouts, libraries, birthdays, retirement homes, and many other groups.
Today we provide nature programming for thousands of families every year around the state of Pennsylvania. I also play the role of "Critter Correspondent" on the Kids Cookie Break on WJTL 90.3 where I get to share reptile fun facts and adventures from the wild.
Forgotten Friend is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Currently I
have no paid staff working with me, and the rescue itself is
run mostly out of our home. I am paid for most of the nature programs I provide, but I still volunteer the rest of my work as President of Forgotten Friend. It's a way I can show my love for reptiles, and reach out to pet-owners who may have nowhere else to turn. I take care of the vast majority of animal care and administrative work at the rescue, along with a handful of volunteers. Whenever possible we collaborate with organizations that share our mission of rescue, education, or conservation, like Lancaster Herpetological Society, the National Amphibian and Reptile Rescue Alliance, and the Wild Resource Conservation Program, just to name a few.
Over the years we have been greatly blessed with many opportunities that have helped Forgotten Friend to grow. I hope to continue providing reptile rescue and environmental education for many years to come!
Jesse & Boo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jesse & Abraham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jesse & Larry
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