Meeting Liz Nicholas for the first time, two things become clear. She loves animals and is passionate about the earth.
Nicholas’ love for all creatures great and small began when she was growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “I remember my mother scolding me for putting a frozen locust in the dryer’s lint catcher to thaw it out. She insisted it was dead,” Nicholas said. “Needless to say, she was very unhappy when she heard it rubbing its legs together.”
Nicholas describes herself as an artist, educator, experimenter, and animal lover. After she made a “soul-awakening” trip to Africa in her 40s, she created Art with a Conscience. More than a website, it’s her personal mission to tell a story and educate people on the plight of a particular animal through funky, vibrant paintings. She donates a portion of those sales to shelters, wildlife funds, environmental and conservation causes, and humane organizations.
Her furry, finned, feathered, and sometimes scaly subjects often come with a real-life story of abuse, neglect, or endangerment. “I would hear of the plight of a specific species or animal, and their story seemed important, yet so unknown,” she said. “I felt that by painting them, I could put their story into a visual advertisement.”
As a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in the state of Georgia, Nicholas lovingly attends to small mammals in her home on a regular basis – groundhogs and opossums are her favorites. On any given day, you might find her pulling baby foxes out of a storm drain, rescuing an injured hawk, nursing an orphaned squirrel, or transporting a snake or turtle to a safe haven.
Nicholas also teaches community outreach programs to help foster profound and personal connections between people and nature.
To learn more about Nicholas and her work, visit www.artwithaconscience.com.
In the photos, I am holding one of two owls, both belonging to a federally licensed wildlife rehabber/educator friend and partner educator (Monteen McCord, www.Hawktalk.org).
Wild animals are not allowed to be on display or used in education programs if they are to be released back to the wild and/or if they are not permitted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state’s Department of Natural Resources department. This is done to protect the animals.
Both owls; Sam (Great Horned Owl [shown in the article]) and Nigel (Tawny Owl), are licensed by either or both state and federal agencies for the purpose of education only. Without this licensing, many people would think that they could also take and keep these animals as pets. That is NOT the message I send during my programs. There is a very distinct difference.
All the animals we use in education are non-releasable either because they have an injury that keeps them from being able to survive in the wild and/or were taken illegally by someone, and, as a result, they never developed the life skills to hunt and live on their own.
My message is about why wildlife needs to remain wild and not be treated any other way. The good news is they become a “spokes birds” for their species and can teach 100 kids in one sitting why (as an example) owls are considered an “indicator species” and how they are an important element in the “circle of life” (i.e., a large owl can eat a dozen or more large rodents each evening).