Our Story

In October 2013, friends Heather Armentrout and Julie Byford embarked on the adventure of a lifetime with Julie Scardina to Uganda and Kenya…  


“While in Uganda and Kenya, two beautiful countries, we met with wildlife organizations and the heroes who work to save species. From the Uganda Conservation Foundation to Save the Elephants, Grevy’s Zebra Trust and Ewaso Lions, the research, species protection and community connections we witnessed were inspiring.” – Heather Armentrout  


For some of the travelers, this was their first exposure to what conservation is and means.  But for Julie, Julie, and Heather, animals and the natural world have always been a passion, having dedicated their careers to caring for a variety of animals in a zoological setting while also educating guests, school children and audiences about conservation concepts.   


With the sun setting upon the silhouette of elephants drinking and playing in the Ewaso Nyiro River, a pact to help protect this amazing continent and its animals was formed.   


Once back in the U.S. we contacted our Africa travel provider, Piper & Heath, headed by Chris and Emily Liebenberg, and Mark Forman. Piper & Heath has a long history of giving back to communities and conservation projects, so they were eager to join forces to support Mission Wildlife. Over the next six years we grew our team and our fundraising capabilities.  Anthony, Heather’s husband, with expertise in technology, was the first to volunteer his time and skills; and is still on board as tech coordinator. Soon after followed Deb Sandler, who helped the group gain momentum for the first few years. In 2018, PR professional Kelly Terry agreed to come on as communications chair, bookkeeper Christine Harmon as finance chair, Rhona St. Clair-Moore as donor engagement chair and Jeni Smith as social media coordinator. 


Julie Byford - “Seeing our idea come to fruition has been a dream come true; being able to share our passion is incredibly rewarding. Our events and efforts have a ripple effect of inspiring others and benefitting species, which was the whole point of starting Mission Wildlife.”  


A lot converged in 2020 and staying nimble allowed us to look at challenges as opportunities, starting with becoming an official 501(c)(3). Cheryl Messinger was asked to facilitate our growth through strategic planning.  She now manages our "new" business and fills the role of executive director. With our planned expansion of activities, Jenna Golden joined us to increase capacity in event planning and execution. We also developed a new worldwide vision, and brought on a new sponsor, global-spanning Latitude Expeditions, founded by Linda and Bob Shepro, who bolster the power of travel for advancing conservation. 


“Virtually every traveler who went with us on that original trip, and all subsequent trips, attends our events or supports our efforts. With our passionate, all-volunteer team, we are proud to help save species and support conservation, no matter where the need!” – Julie Scardina  

No upcoming events at the moment


2021 Sponsors

We would like to express our profound gratitude for the special contributions made by the following businesses and individuals.

John J. Lormon

SWSD Logo NEW.png

via Souligny Wells Group

And to the following for their generous support

  • Doug and Cheryl Messinger

  • Casa De Glory and the Sweeney Family

  • Joseph Peczi of JGP DESIGN SERVICES 

2021 Beneficiaries


Previous Beneficiaries


Lola Ya Bonobo



Your details were sent successfully!

Mission Wildlife is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that supports species conservation through fundraising, awareness, and education. 

San Diego, CA, USA

Tax ID # 85-0982932

  • facebook
  • instagram
  • LinkedIn