You Know You’re From...Antigo: Marge Gibson and REGI
ANTIGO, Wis. (WSAW) - “There is such peace working with birds.”
When Marge Gibson and her husband, Don, moved back to Antigo in 1991, they heard the calls from their winged friends.
“There were so many eagles that were injured that were just being put down. And my husband said, ‘you know, we should do something about this,’” said Marge Gibson, founder of REGI.
The Raptor Education Group, Inc., or REGI, was born. The original plan was for a small, part-time, one-person operation while enjoying Don’s retirement.
“I guess I’m glad I didn’t know how large it was going to grow. Because I probably would have tried, you know, harder to make it less.”
Their home became a rehabilitation campus for hundreds of patients.
“He would say, ‘well, that’s our retirement out there,’” she said with a laugh.
For 28 years, Don watched, and often helped, as REGI soared to unimaginable heights under the wing of his wife of 44 years. In 2019, Don lost his fight against cancer.
“It was a, very much, together thing that we built REGI,” said Marge.
While we were visiting REGI, a warden brought in an injured loon. NewsChannel 7 got to see Marge in her natural habitat.
“She’s just a great mentor and teacher,” said Audrey Gossett.
Gossett has been with REGI for 9 years.
“Birds are just a passion of mine. I was hoping that this would be a long-term situation for me,” she said.
It will be. Marge is grooming Audrey to take her spot when she decides to step away.
“Audrey’s amazing,” Gibson said. “She was such an incredible blessing.”
“That’s always a little nerve-racking,” Gossett said with a smile, “to have someone so well known and amazing the way she is to fill those shoes.”
“They say that if you want to be happy in life, surround yourself with good people and happiness,” Gibson said. “The work we do is the happiness and the balance. But, I have good people.”
Five full-time employees plus one volunteer with a lot of experience.
“I could have paid myself. But, quite honestly, it’s such a part of me. How do you purchase peace of mind,” Gibson said with a big smile.
Right now, REGI also has 6 summer interns who live on campus, compensated through school credit and hands-on training.
“You can tell Marge really wants us to succeed and that she’s trying to give us as much information as she can to make us do that,” said Sierra Thomas, a UW-Stevens Point senior. “She’s selfless. And it really makes me wonder how I can do that.”
“We continue to learn and I think that’s one of the reasons for our success here. Is that it’s never our way or the highway, we learn from our patients,” Gibson said humbly.
Gibson still has an incredible passion for what she does and you just have to believe her raptor friends are grateful.
“There’s a purity about the love I have for the birds and the work I do. I always say they give us back far more than we ever could give them,” explained Gibson.
REGI’s operating budget is about $300,000 a year. Despite having two dozen eagles-- our nation’s bird-- in rehab, REGI gets zero federal money. All of their expenses are paid through donations and gifts (bequests). It helps to have a champion like Gibson, an unpaid volunteer mind you, to help bring in those funds.
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