Chappell earns Medallion Award

Published 11:00 am Monday, December 28, 2009

GATESVILLE – Typically, 16-year-olds are not accustomed to nurturing anything back to health.

Dillon K. Chappell of Corapeake breaks that stereotype.

Earlier this month, Chappell was recognized during a meeting of the Gates County Board of Commissioners after being notified he was a recipient of a Medallion Award, a prestigious honor bestowed by the North Carolina Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service.

Only 20 Medallion Awards were won statewide in 2009.

Chappell’s recognition was earned through his involvement with Wild Things Fawn Rehabilitation Center in Corapeake.

Operated by his parents, Randall and Jane Chappell, the Center is licensed through the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission. Dillon and his parents assist wildlife officers and district biologists in a 13-county region (including Bertie, Gates and Hertford) to rescue orphaned and injured fawns, providing them with medical care, nourishment and a temporary safe haven until they are strong enough to be released back into the wild.

For Dillon, this marks his second year of involvement with Wild Things. He said he typically spends 22 hours a week (Spring through Fall) volunteering his time at the Center.

Other than the general care and feeding of the fawns, his duties include assisting the veterinarian with medical treatments, collecting food, mixing the milk formula used to feed the fawns (they require a special mixture), dispensing medicine, construction of pens, shelters and feeding racks, photographing the fawns for documentation and promoting public awareness of the services provided at Wild Things.

It all started in 2007 for Dillon, attending night classes at the Edenton campus of the College of the Albemarle to be trained in wildlife rehabilitation. He received his special fawn permit from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) in the spring of 2008.

In one of his very first cases, Dillon worked with a fawn injured in a farming accident. The baby deer suffered an injury to its hock tendon. He immediately went to work, assisting first with the trauma care of the animal before transporting the fawn to Dr. Peggy Johnson’s office for emergency surgery.

The fawn came through the surgery, but the real work for Dillon was ahead. He provided care for the fawn, including general care/feeding, physical therapy and follow-up visits with the vet. By the fall of 2008, the fawn had completely recovered and was released back into the wild. It was just one of eight fawns he cared for that year.

Earlier this year, Dillon attended a class in Raleigh hosted by the NCWRC where he and Dr. Johnson were honored for their efforts in fawn rehabilitation. The NCWRC also chose to use the aforementioned fawn as a case study for continuing education.

This year, Wild Things has cared for 12 fawns. Due to the involvement of Dillon and his family, it has freed up the time spent by NCWRC Officers in answering calls for endangered or injured fawns. The officers simply contact Wild Things to handle the rescue and rehabilitation efforts. Prior to the opening and licensing of Wild Things, Wildlife Officers in northeastern North Carolina were forced to make a three and one-half hour drive to transport fawns to the nearest rehabber.

Additionally, Dillon assisted in publishing a brochure that educates the public about animals living in the wild. Dillon said many do not understand that observing a fawn alone in the wild doesn’t necessarily mean they are abandoned. Whitetail deer are a “hider” species, meaning the female will hide her fawn in vegetation during the first two to three weeks of its life while she feeds. The doe will return to the fawn on several occasions during the day to clean and feed it, staying only a few minutes before leaving in search of food.

Wild Things provides the NCWRC and the public with a way of ensuring the survival of these beautiful young animals.

To report an endangered or abandoned fawn, call Wild Things at 252-465-4647 or send an e-mail to

Dr. Peggy Johnson, DVM, of the Gates County Animal Clinic was also honored with a Governor’s Volunteer Award for her efforts with fawn rehabilitation.

The North Carolina Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service recognizes the work of all North Carolinians in volunteering and each year allows up to five nominations from each county for the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award.

North Carolinians have always shown their concern and compassion for their neighbors by volunteering in local communities across the state. This proud tradition of volunteerism and community service was first recognized by the Office of the Governor in 1979.

The awards honor the true spirit of volunteerism by recognizing individuals, groups and businesses that make a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service. Any person, group, or business from the public, non-profit and private sector may be nominated for an award.

In Gates County, contact Reba Greene-Holley at the Cooperative Extension Office for more information on this program.