The Land & Our Team

Our Philosophy

Most wildlife encounters human habitation every day; their own habitats are decreasing, and they have nowhere to go. Our mission is to educate others to live symbiotically with their local wildlife. CWCC’s constant dedication to wildlife inspires others to help preserve our planet’s animals and to have a voice to save our wildlife and wild places.

The Nature Preserve

CWCC is located on 105 acres of ecologically diverse land. The land is called “Wildplaces” after the quote “May there always be wild places” by wildlife photographer and conservationist, Thomas Mangelsen.  The National Wildlife Federation has awarded the land the status of “a certified wildlife habitat” This means that the land provides abundant food, water, cover and places to raise young. Charlotte is growing exponentially as an urban city and the wildlife is feeling the impact. With increase negative wildlife encounters with human habitation, we are blessed to have 105 acres to be a safe sanctuary forever for our wildlife.

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“One of three ponds. The ponds will be used for turtle release, wildlife habitat and beaver/otter swim lessons.”

Our Team

Founder & Executive Director

Morgan Rafael is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, specializing in native mammals. Morgan uses her skills from her background in veterinary technology and zoo medicine to give the most innovative care to her patients. She has traveled around the world doing wildlife rehabilitation including Africa where she worked with orphaned rhinos.  


Morgan has a fiery passion for educating others on how to live symbiotically with the wildlife in our backyards. She has big dreams for Carolina Wildlife Conservation Center and the lasting impact it willl make on wildlife and the environemtn for generations to come. 

Wildlife Rehabilitation Director & Wildlife Biologist


Ruby Davis has been a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for 10 years. Before coming to CWCC, she worked with Wildlands Engineering as a wildlife biologist and lead environmental scientist for hydrology, botany and fauna monitoring of wetland-stream restoration projects.


She conducted threatened and endangered species surveys and has helped North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission with bat surveys. She specializes in her skill in turtle shell repair and ability to rehabilitate trauma patients. 

Wildlife Rehabilitator Apprentice

Rachel Cerjan is a biologist that has experience with a variety of different animals and plant life from analyzing phytoplankton to conservation studies in Africa. Rachel has learned a lot about wildlife throughout her education and work and is now applying that knowledge to wildlife rehabilitation. 

She obtained her Master’s in biology researching bees and has a passion for all animals big and small. She is currently working with Morgan and Ruby as a mentee to become a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. 


Dr. Laura Lathan grew up in North Carolina and graduated from NCSU’s vet school in 1995. (Go Wolfpack!) She settled in Matthews NC in 2007 and lives there with her husband, 2 sons, pit bull Smithy and snakes Scarab, Sphinx, and Patty.


She’s always had a passion for exotic and wild animal medicine, and had a variety of critters growing up. As a small animal veterinarian, she grew her caseload to about 50% exotics, and while working in Charlotte she developed relationships with several of the local wildlife rehabbers seeing their more challenging cases.  She was delighted to hear of the birth of CWCC several years ago, and jumped at the chance to be part of CWCC’s team.  


When she’s not being a veterinarian, Dr. Laura can be found backpacking with the Scouts, cooking, playing Munchkin with my family, decorating cakes, and twisting balloon animals.

Home Based Wildlife Rehabilitator

Carolyn Festa is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with over ten years of experience and a lifelong appreciation for nature. She enjoys learning about the animals she cares for and constantly seeks to improve her skills by attending advanced classes in wildlife rehabilitation. Carolyn specializes in the care of newborn orphaned wildlife which require around the clock care and extra attention managing hydration, formula concentration and medication. Carolyn likes to share her passion with others and enjoys teaching species specific natural history and mentoring other rehabilitators.

Carolyn is also an avid gardener who has transformed her yard and garden to grow food for animals undergoing treatment, as well as, to provide habitat for her favorite bird, insect and animal species.  In the spirit of conservation her garden features a large milkweed patch to feed the larval stage of the monarch butterfly. Carolyn is based out of her home in Sherrills Ford, NC. She often visits the center bringing fresh vegetables and flowers.