Skip to main content

Taylorsville Journal

Wasatch Wanderers presented with the Governor’s Spirit of Service Award

Sep 11, 2023 02:52PM ● By Peri Kinder

Adison Smith thought she was being scammed when she got the email from the governor’s office. But when they reached out a second time, Smith realized the email was legit and her nonprofit was being honored with the Governor’s Spirit of Service Award.

Smith is the president of Wasatch Wanderers, an animal rescue organization that has saved nearly 1,000 abandoned or injured domestic waterfowl and exotic animals since it was founded in September 2021. The award recognizes the group’s efforts to rescue animals and educate the public.

“The Spirit of Service winners are amazing examples of why Utah leads the nation in volunteerism and service,” said Gov. Spencer Cox. “I am honored to pay them tribute and recognize the good they are doing in our great state.”

Wasatch Wanderers was selected from hundreds of nominations submitted to the governor’s office this year. Smith and co-founder Kade Tyler attended the ceremony at the Utah State Capitol in July. She hopes the recognition will bring more attention to their cause.

“We’re asking the public to share this important message that not only is it illegal to abandon animals, but it’s also extremely cruel,” Smith said. 

The group’s focus is on saving waterfowl and animals that aren’t considered typical pets including ducks, geese, pigs, turtles, goats, hamsters and guinea pigs. Wasatch Wanderers make it their goal to show just how valuable these animals really are. 

During the last two years, Smith said she’s seen a change of mindset as people learn the dangers of abandoning domestic wildlife. Parents have told her they stopped releasing ducks, geese, turtles and fish into public lakes and streams after hearing the Wasatch Wanderers message.

Cities have also reached out to the organization to help rescue animals in their waterways. Smith would like to get more cities on board with the idea of rescue instead of euthanization. 

“The choice of euthanizing all of those animals over and over and over again every single year isn't making a difference,” Smith said. “They continue to have the same amount of people buying the animals and abandoning them. And if they don't understand that, they're not getting the point.”

As Wasatch Wanderers grows in visibility, it needs more foster homes, people willing to adopt animals and more donations to keep the effort going. The goal is to one day purchase property to have a rescue facility where people can drop-off or adopt animals. For more information, or to see a list of animals available for adoption, visit and follow its social media pages.

Smith is optimistic that change is possible and is pleased with the progress they’ve made in the last two years. She’s had parents tell her they had no idea it was illegal to abandon geese or ducks in the wild. They didn’t know it was a danger to the animals and the environment. 

“In the animal community, change takes forever, so seeing this change means everything,” Smith said. “One of my favorite things to do, when we teach an educational group, is to watch the parents’ faces of the children we’re teaching. They're just totally floored. So it’s neat to watch and it’s big. Hopefully, with the parents hearing it too, we could possibly change traditions or choices for generations to come.”λ

Follow the Taylorsville Journal on Facebook!