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Living Your Soul Signature

To live your soul signature means having the courage and clarity to live a life that is uniquely yours and reflects your greatest potential. This series of posts focuses on people who inspire me in the way they live their life and have found their most authentic expression. 

Mona Rutger is living her soul signature.

Mona is a wildlife rehabilitator and educator. Her phone never stops ringing: a fox is tangled in a garbage bag, a turtle has been run over by a truck, a majestic bald eagle has a broken wing. Lucky for these three and many more wounded animals, Mona answers these calls day and night. She has operated Back to the Wild Wildlife Rehabilitation and Nature Center in Castalia, Ohio, since 1990 rehabilitating 2,500 animals a year, and receiving in 30 to 40 injured creatures a day. Be it bobcat or turtle, fawn or flying squirrel, no animal is turned away.

Mona's enthusiasm for wildlife goes back to her childhood. She grew up on a farm, spending most of her playtime outdoors with animals. Today she is passionate about educating kids about wildlife, hosting thousands of schoolchildren and other groups at Back to the Wild each year.

While she does not seek the spotlight, Mona has been recognized in recent years for her work. In 2006, she was the very first recipient of Animal Planet’s “Hero of the Year,” and in 2013 she was named a “CNN Hero.” The awards are wonderful recognition for her dedication, but the hard work and constant care Mona puts into her work are not in pursuit of fame or fortune.

“Anyone who thinks caring for Ohio’s injured and orphaned wildlife is fun or glamorous should think again,” says Rutger. She and her husband Bill care for up to 150 wild animals in a single day. Mona believes there’s a moral obligation to give injured animals a second chance. While the work is very labor-intensive, costly, and completely consumes her life, Mona can't imagine another line of work.

“This job has me going nearly 24 hours a day,” says Rutger. “It’s crazy, but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.”
For Mona, each successful rehabilitation feels like the first time. “Goose bumps just go from your head to toe when that eagle or hawk or owl flies from your hand, and you know that it doesn't have to live in a cage tonight,” she said. “I've done it thousands upon thousands of times, and it never gets old. It is still the most exciting, exhilarating experience I can share.”

Mona Rutger is hardwired for compassion, and her soul signature is ignited by love. She is living her purpose and passion.

Like the animals she loves, she belongs to the wild.