Building Upon Our Past by Creating a Bold Future

The Rocky Mountain Raptor Program (RMRP) started in 1979 as a veterinary student club when an injured hawk was brought to Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. At the time, there were no programs in the area to support raptors when they needed help. The students banded together and created a small club focused rehabilitating a few injured raptors each year. 

From the first hawk cared for that year, nearly 7000 raptors have followed for their Second Chance at Freedom.

Over the years, the program grew beyond what a student club could handle. In 1987 CSU formalized the program, and the RMRP hired its first Director, Judy Scherpelz to lead the fledgling organization. With Judy’s skilled leadership the RMRP grew to rehabilitate hundreds of injured raptors annually and grew the education program to provide hundreds of education programs and events annually.

The organization continued to grow, and Judy molded a community-based, mostly volunteer organization. For more than 30 years, she crafted and guided a tough and resilient program. The RMRP separated from CSU administratively in 2004 and formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. In 2005, in response to a need for more space, the RMRP purchased a 27-acre parcel of open space on East Vine Drive, north of downtown Fort Collins.

In 2006, the program built three major raptor enclosures at Vine Dr. for rehabilitating birds and for the educational ambassadors which are non-releasable due to injury. RMRP leased the building at 720 East Vine Drive, which it has occupied since January 2007. This 8,000-square foot facility was previously a woodworking shop and cola bottling plant. It continues to serve as our center of operations while we plan our future permanent facility.

Our reputation has grown and we are now nationally recognized as a leader in the rehabilitation of raptors, conservation education, and research to help protect these creatures in the wild. 

Now we are springing into the future and growing to become more than just an inspiration to our community—we hope to inspire people around the world with a new center that we’re planning near Old Town Fort Collins. 

In partnership with the top museum and wildlife habitat designers in the United States, Rocky Mountain Raptor Program is moving forward with plans to build a Wildlife Nature Park on our Vine Drive property. We’re creating a travel destination for children and families from all over Colorado and from around the US and the world, a place where visitors can celebrate raptors, wildlife and all living things. At the new Center, RMRP will build upon its reputation as one of the leading raptor programs in the US and will be open to the public every day.

These elements define the spirit and essence of what will become the new Rocky Mountain Raptor Program. While the new home is still on the drawing boards, we are taking steps to make this dream come true. From that fledgling student club that started so long ago, to the program that you are reading about, the most important common denominator is you. Nothing written on these pages could happen if not for you. Thank you for your encouragement , your support, and for believing in this dream.

Stay tuned for more news about our exciting plans!