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get to know Us
Acorn Acres specializes in squirrels, bunnies, and woodchucks; making sure they get a second chance, too.
We provide our human neighbors in Lancaster County and surrounding areas with a free resource for these species.
To our patients we offer a proper environment (clean, quiet, and predator free) to grow, thrive, and recover with species specific optimal nutrition as well as veterinary care.
To our human neighbors and wild patients we commit to maintain and further our education as we strive to implement the latest technologies and practices.
Mighty oaks from little acorns grow!
board of directors & management team
President, David T. Aichele
David is the President of Acorn Acres Wildlife Rehabilitation. His life has focused on helping others. Out of high school he volunteered as an Emergency Medical Technician and as a firefighter. Then he proudly served his community as a Police Officer for 18 years. David was on the Board of Directors and is a former President of Musser Park Civic Association. He is currently the Mayor of Millersville. Prior to accepting the Mayoral appointment David served on Millersville Borough Council for 4 years. Professionally, David is the Executive Director for the Lancaster Downtown Investment District and the Director of Clean and Safe Services for Lancaster City Alliance; both organizations are focused on helping improve the community, as well as economic vitality.
David was born and raised in Lancaster. He is a graduate of Penn Manor High School and Willow Street Vo-Tech for carpentry. He is also a graduate of The Pennsylvania State Police Academy, Pennsylvania Fire and Criminal Justice Academy and has received numerous Certifications of Training from federal, state, and local agencies. He is a graduate of the Leadership Lancaster Class of 2007. David has also attended workshops focused on Conflict Resolution, he is a Certified Specialist in Crime Prevention through Environmental Design, and most recently he attended a workshop hosted by Millersville University for Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion.
When asked about his influencers and mentors David thought for a while. He has had many people pass through his life that offered opportunities and guidance both professionally and personally; however, the two constants that influenced him the most and were his biggest fans, were his parents, Patricia, and Tom.
In his spare time David enjoys spending time with his family and grandchildren. David did not have much of a choice as to whether he was attracted to our cause or not, his wife is our Executive Director. He did respond with a smile and said “My wife and I have our own passions and we support each other fully. I enjoy watching and helping her dreams come true.”
His expertise in carpentry makes him our lead nest box maker too. While David does not interact with the patients daily, he does enjoy their antics and watching them go free on release day. He is particularly fond our educational squirrel, Snags.
Executive Director, Betsy Shank, CWR
Betsy is our Founder, Executive Director, and Rehabilitator. She was enjoying life in the fast lane of corporate America, working on her education in Business Management and reaching for milestones when she stumbled upon a baby squirrel. That was April 16, 2010. Since that day, it has been virtually nothing but wildlife for Betsy. Her fast-paced life came to a screeching halt about a year later when 5 baby squirrels were given to her.
In order to keep an income, she started her own business sewing bedding for small caged animals; with a direct concentration on sturdiness for the “wild” ones. In between projects she was navigating through the process to become a wildlife rehabilitator. She trained under several rehabilitators in many states and learned as much as she possibly could.
It didn’t take too awfully long (only 10 years) before her husband realized this was the new normal and embraced her desire to open her own facility specializing in squirrels, cottontails, and woodchucks. Betsy says, “I feel that I am doing exactly what I was put on this Earth to do, I am most alive while working with my critters.”
Having served on several non-profit boards over the years she wanted to found her own. “My husband’s last name means “little acorn”, of all the trees in our nearly 1-acre yard my favorite is an Oak, and my favorite wild animal is the squirrel. Acorn Acres felt natural, it was the right thing to do.”
She wrote her Pennsylvania state test for wildlife rehabilitator, then tested for and earned the Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator (CWR) designation (a professional designation for individuals in the field of wildlife rehabilitation), while waiting for the IRS to provide the letter of determination for the non-profit. She remembers days of the past fondly and would like to eventually obtain her MBA.
Treasurer, Rebecca Addington
Rebecca Addington is our Treasurer. She grew up on a farm and developed a love for all animals from an early age. Living in many cities since then, she and husband Wesley and Maine Coon cat William, recently moved back to Lancaster to put down roots.
Upon moving back to Lancaster, she opened her home furnishings and design studio in Downtown Lancaster. With a BA in Communications and an AST in Interior Design, Rebecca enjoys that her work allows her to meet new people and animals every day (the shop is pet friendly!)
As the store opened, she saw an immediate opportunity to connect with other businesses and organizations and began making connections in order to give back. When David, Betsy’s husband introduced them regarding the idea to create and sell local pillows with a groundhog, Poppy, she knew this would be the start of a great friendship and partnership. After Poppy’s local appearances and Super Bowl commercial, the nation fell in love and pillows, totes, and tea towels were shipped all over the country. So, when Betsy and David have an idea, Rebecca listens, and she looks forward to continuing their partnership to provide knowledge, education, and support for Acorn Acres and Wildlife Rehabilitation.
Rebecca is a Lancaster enthusiast, and enjoys serving on local marketing and government boards. She also enjoys running, playing the piano, and traveling to scope out unique architecture and microbreweries.
Secretary, Brooke Magni
Brooke wears several hats within Acorn Acres! She is our Secretary and she also runs all of our social media channels. And on top of that she is in near daily contact with our Founder as they brainstorm and iron out details and plan events for the organization.
Brooke lives in Millersville with her husband and 2 boys; she serves on the Millersville Borough Council, the Board of Directors for Arch Street Center, and she’s the Chairperson on the Fundraising Committee for Arch Street Center. It is very common to see Brooke and her blonde ponytail running through Millersville as she’s an accomplished runner; having completed 7 marathons 2 of which were the Boston Marathon!
While working full-time and being a mom to 2 active boys Brooke obtained a BA in Psychology and MEd Sports Management and Marketing. Most recently, she started her own business and is running social media workshops at BGM Consulting.
Brooke has an affinity for animals, large and small, domestic and wild. She feels “it is important to support local organizations and I am always willing to help where I am needed and can be an asset with my skill set.” Knowing she is helping to make a difference in the lives of animals/wildlife and providing a service that impacts our overall environment keeps her going. She is inspired by “times in which I can give of myself are the most satisfying and push me to do more.”
Director, Lynn Oliver
Lynn is not only a Director on our Board, but she is also our mentor on woodchucks, as well as our graphic designer. Her background is colorful; NOT a typical all-American upbringing, however, it helped to make her perfect for us!
Lynn started her own business working from home as a freelance graphic designer (pre-press) in 2003 and continues today. She is married over 33 years, lives in Virginia and has an adult son. In 2010, after working with her mentor learning about wildlife rehabilitation together, they started a non-profit, Valley Wildlife Care.
Lynn teaches a couple of classes to other rehabbers, most notably, since she’s been raising and releasing groundhogs for the last 15+ years, she teaches how she does that, tips and tricks, and what she’s learned about them in a rehab setting.
When one founds a non-profit, all the work one does is volunteer. Most of the Valley Wildlife Care activities fall on her shoulders: she does most of the fundraising, selling wildlife-themed items at events (in person and now virtual), building the online store, keeping the inventory, and promoting the sales. She also manages their website and social media page.
When it comes to hands-on rehabbing, she personally accepts orphaned squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, and skunks.
Lynn is influenced by many people in many venues. She likes honest people who also have some humility. She gives thanks to her non-profit partner, Robin, who taught her rehab in the beginning, and she thanks all the other rehabbers who have taught classes or held her hand as she took on different species. If she had to pick a super-human, she’d choose Jane Goodall, who’s life has been spent bettering the lives of wild chimps and teaching humans how to coexist with wildlife.
Lynn holds a VA Wildlife Rehab Permit; and their non-profit also has USDA and state permits for keeping non-releasable education animals. In non-pandemic times, they take them out and teach people about them, and they always encourage people to coexist with wildlife in a safe and humane way.
Lynn was attracted to us because of our Founder, Betsy. If you know Betsy you know of her thirst for learning and excellent care-taking of her animals, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of helping her start her own rescue. She is honored to be part of Acorn Acres.
Lynn is inspired by waking up to a new day; checking off her list of things to do; working with good people, and helping animals in need. She is further inspired by other people who do good deeds.
Director, Lara Fenstemaker
Lara graduated from Hempfield High School in 1999 and wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. During her senior year in high school Lara joined a local fire company as a volunteer fire fighter and promptly fell in love with emergency services. While being a volunteer fire fighter Lara continued her growth in emergency services and got her Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Certification. After a few years of working part time as an EMT and full time in a retail the store closed, and a close friend suggested applying to be a 911 dispatcher.
Lara has been a 911 dispatcher for Lancaster County Wide Communication for the last 21 years and cannot see herself anywhere else! Her professional life is rewarding and fulfilling but she always felt a connection with animals, specifically domestic rabbits, which lead her to breeding and fostering. Working as a dispatcher involves long hours and her pet rabbit was spending too much time alone, so she investigated a second pet rabbit. She decided on an English Angora and found herself enthralled with their ears and the idea of making her own yarn from their fiber and then added a few more angoras to her home. When a local animal rescue had a fire and needed foster homes for the surviving animals, she offered to foster the rabbits they had. That group of rabbits have since found their new places and she has continued to foster a few rabbits for the organization.
A friend of Lara’s found a Virginia Opossum in her driveway and told her about Acorn Acres and how we accept volunteers. She looked into the requirements and submitted her application to help. Lara quickly deciphered the dynamics of several of our resident animals and has excelled at her animal care responsibilities.
During her days involved with the fire department and as an EMT she served as Secretary, Assistant Secretary, and Assistant Treasurer. She also worked at the public education events, assisted with the fire prevention classes for all ages, and fundraising events, which included the annual carnival and bingo nights.
Bringing Lara onto our Board of Directors was a natural fit with her experience and growth within our organization. Some of Lara’s most memorable experiences with us include watching the baby squirrels grow up and become wild little things, getting to know and love Blaze, one of our ambassador squirrels (2017-2022) and working with Snags, Poppy, and Elliott.
Lara is excited to grow with us, share her prior board member experience, and looks forward to becoming a sub-permitted wildlife rehabilitator as she continues her wildlife education.
Director, Cierra Noetzel
Fundraising Manager, Melissa Hilton
Melissa is our Fundraising Manager and she also assists with animal care. For as long as Melissa can remember she’s had the uncanny finesse of understanding and interacting with animals, particularly wildlife. No one taught her how, she just did it. Even as a child, growing up on a farm she was curious to know what was going on in the animal’s minds. She recognized that each animal is its own intelligent being with its own behaviors.
Growing up, if Melissa was not out fishing, she was bottle feeding calves and displaced kittens, or searching for critters in the woods. She not only thoroughly enjoyed interacting with all species of wildlife she learned to respect them, as well.
As an adult, Melissa volunteered for another wildlife center for more than 3 years. “In my years of reading wild patients’ charts, there was one thing that’s stood out to me: The fact that most of them were admitted because of direct or indirect human activity. Hawks poisoned. Opossums trapped. Turtles crushed by cars. Songbirds that crashed into windows. Baby birds and bunnies unnecessarily picked up by people. Squirrels orphaned after trees were cut down and nests destroyed. Many animals died, sometimes her arms or hands as I tried to provide aid. I quickly learned to accept death as a side effect of life — and found great passion in doing everything I could to save their lives...though each individual animal lost stung me.”
Melissa’s way of showing recognition for the lives of all living beings as valuable: human, bunny, squirrel or otherwise is by wildlife rehabilitation. She hopes that her efforts help others realize why each nonhuman life is worth saving.
Melissa has shared her love and admiration for animals, specifically wildlife with her boys. Her eldest is in his 3rd year of college for Wildlife Management, Conservation, and Forestry. He will be seeking opportunities to be a Pennsylvania Game Warden.
Melissa is looking forward to continuing her Capture and Transport work, expanding her knowledge by becoming sub-permitted, and is currently studying for her Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator (CWR) designation. Melissa also enjoys sharing her passion for our mission with others by fundraising.
Professionally, Melissa is a Licensed Medical Aesthetician, Laser Technician and has her license in phlebotomy. Additionally, Melissa holds a Master Scuba Diver Certification and a Cemetery Relator License.