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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge,Saving Animals and Preserving Habitats

Dec 02, 2017 02:21PM ● By Carly Brady

Nature is on full display at the beautiful and tranquil grounds of Woodford Cedar Run.  The bridge in the middle of the refuge crosses over Cedar Run Lake and allows visitors to get a sense of what it looks like to be walking on the edge of the Pinelands.

In 1957, Jim and Elizabeth (Betty) Woodford created a sanctuary for nature and wildlife in New Jersey. Their original idea has grown to become one of New Jersey’s premier wildlife centers: the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge. 

Jeanne Gural, the executive director of Woodford Cedar Run, is a passionate environmental educator and wildlife activist who has elevated the refuge to even greater heights. Gural’s benevolence towards wildlife is contagious. As she walks through the grounds, animals recognize her voice and respond. Her love for them is generously reciprocated. 

Importantly, Woodford Cedar Run is a nonprofit organization and doesn’t receive state, county or local funding. It is reliant on individual donations, corporate sponsorships and foundation grants.

The refuge provides environmental education, wildlife rehabilitation and habitat preservation for the entire state. Located in Medford, the refuge sits on 171 wooded acres of land. There are 3.5 miles of hiking and running trails included in the land preserved by Woodford Cedar Run. The refuge includes a wildlife rehabilitation hospital, outdoor enclosures to house the 40 native animals that live at the refuge and the Elizabeth Woodford Nature Center. 

Some 60 years after opening its doors, the refuge is the busiest wildlife rehabilitation hospital in the state. Woodford Cedar Run treats more than 4,700 animals each year, accounting for nearly 25 percent of all injured wildlife in New Jersey. The animals treated at the wildlife hospital are injured, orphaned and/or displaced. The center’s certified rehabilitation team is dedicated to helping animals regain their strength and, when possible, returning them to the wild. 

In some cases, when an animal has been brought to Woodford Cedar Run but is unable to fully regain its strength, the refuge will give the animal a home in one of their outdoor enclosures. This provides animals with as much freedom as possible while being protected from predators and still under the care of the rehabilitation team. Animals housed at the refuge include Eastern Screech Owls, Bald Eagles and a variety of other species. 

Education also is a primary focus for the refuge. Every year, the environmental education team, Refuge on Wheels, visits 300 school districts to teach children about the importance of preserving land and caring for wildlife. The programs offered are aligned with the New Jersey Core Curriculum, including environmental STEM-based programs.  The refuge is using STEM-based learning to inspire children to engage a sense of compassion for nature, which the Woodford Cedar Run team hopes will ultimately bring those values to universities in New Jersey. 

In addition to educational programs, Woodford Cedar Run is well known for its annual summer camps. Children throughout the community return to the camps year after year.  The camps use environmental education- and wildlife-related activities to provide children with a camp experience like no other. 

Throughout the year, Woodford Cedar Run provides a full calendar of unique events. In the fall, community members are invited to the Autumn with the Animals festival and the Hoot, Waddle, and Stroll 5K race and walk. Families can enjoy local vendors, crafters and other organizations, explore the lands of the refuge, and learn about the animals on-site. In the spring, the refuge’s famous Whiskey, Wine and Wildlife event brings together local community members for a night of socializing and fundraising.  Woodford Cedar Run also may be “rented” for a one-of-a-kind setting for private parties, such as weddings and corporate programs. 

Woodford Cedar Run was recently honored as Best of 2017 for a Local Tourist Destination by xxxxxxxxxx.  The Elizabeth Woodford Nature Center is open to the public seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additionally, the refuge always is looking for more volunteers to help keep its animals healthy and to help spread the word about the fascinating wildlife around us.

Woodford Cedar Run welcomes adults and children of all ages, because the compassion and interest in wildlife can be found and encouraged at any age. Betty Woodford said it best when she described the inevitable passion towards wildlife that exists in the world, “I think mankind needs wilderness in his life to enjoy and appreciate and to know that it's a part of what has always been there.”

The Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization. Donations help Cedar Run achieve its mission of preserving New Jersey's wildlife and habitats through education, conservation and rehabilitation. All contributions are tax deductible as provided by law.

Woodford Cedar Run is located at 4 Sawmill Rd in Medford. For more information call 856-983-3329 or visit

Carly Brady is an Account Associat at Laura Bishop Communications. The Laura Bishop Communications team uses their expertise in community outreach and grant writing to help non-profit organizations succeed.