Driving the Seward Highway into Anchorage, Alaska, the scenery is majestic and awe-inspiring, with the strength and beauty of the mountains and trees softened by the Gulf of Alaska lapping at the edges of the highway. The view is not always serene, however. The traffic along the highway, at its peak during the months of April-June, is also the scene of wildlife-related accidents. Between 500-700 moose are killed on Alaska highways every year, many of them leaving orphaned moose calves behind.
The day can start like any other. However, when Dana gets a call that a moose calf, sometimes twins, just lost its mama and is in need of rescue, the day’s priorities quickly change. Usually the call comes from the public. Grabbing an intern, because they never go alone, Dana will handle prepping for the rescue, giving the Fish and Game a heads up, and off into the Alaskan wilds at a moment’s notice.
Running Moose Mamas Rescue is a full-time job for Dana Dunn DeBernardi, Class of 1994. The Rescue is a non-profit and Dana (pronounced DAN-a) runs it while supporting her three children. It is quite a commitment, though one she seems to have come by honestly. Growing up, Dana was constantly exposed to nature, hunting, fishing, and her family is “really, really into conservation.” Throughout her childhood, her parents, grandparents, and uncles would talk about elk, moose, the local wildlife population, and conservation. Her uncle worked hard to re- establish the wild turkey population.
Dana was also taught that if something is broke, you fix it. The moose population in Alaska was drastically declining geographically. The orphaned calves most often died when they lost their mothers to vehicle accidents. So Dana took action. She went through miles of red tape, secured her permits, and founded Moose Mamas Rescue.
Caring for a moose calf is intense. Sometimes the calf is 2 days old and only 35 lbs. Or they could be 2 months old and they’re 200 lbs. April through June is the busiest time of year, due to the influx of tourists and traffic. As the only release program in the state, these months can be extremely busy with as many as 10 calves at a time. A group of 5-6 interns stay with Dana over the summer.
Because moose aren’t grazers, but browsers, Dana has to gather tree limbs to hang around the pen to provide food in addition to the formula. An adult male will eat about 60-70 lbs. a day so one calf can eat up 50 lbs. Moose calves grow very fast, up to 5% of their own body weight a day, so they need a constant source of nutrients. Formula for the little calves is the program’s biggest expense. A schedule, complete with alerts and alarms, is set up to make sure each calf gets their 8 feedings a day.
Moose Mamas Rescue keeps the calves for about three to four months. By the time the calves are big enough to be on their own, they are about 350- 400 lbs. Dana and her interns tranquilize the moose, fly them across the inlet, find a remote lake, land on the lake, and then put them in a temporary pen.
Before the moose are released, they are fitted with collars. They say a prayer over each moose and then let them go. The moose are affixed with a collar to help provide statistics for research on the population. The collars are specially designed to expand with their necks for about 12-15 months, until the collar falls off.
From the beginning, Dana felt like her involvement with Moose Mamas was a God thing. Many days have dawned where there weren’t enough resources to continue the rescue and support her family, or where just the volume of work was daunting for one woman and 3 months of interns. Dana says that God always provides, He always comes through. Now the program is growing, with new opportunities presenting themselves.
One of the opportunities includes teaching conservation and responsibility to local elementary students. The students collect water bottles for the Rescue to use in feeding the calves. The bottles are then double- recycled. Another huge blessing came when three of her interns dedicated their lives to Christ this summer. Two of them were atheist and they’ve all gone home to share their experience with their families.
“I feel like God is working on a bigger picture with this project,” Dana explains. “The path is being shifted to connect the program with people who need help, giving them a chance to interact with animals. The human to animal connection is amazing. We’re praying hard over these opportunities.”
Moose Mamas Rescue is getting ready to release the eight calves raised this summer. Learn more about Moose Mamas at moosemamas.org.
Director of Alumni & Development
“They just don’t make things like they used to”. I hear it a lot; about houses. Tools.
Furniture. You name it. It seems like no matter what it is, it’s just not built the way it used to be.
You know, back when things were built to last. Built solid and with real materials, not the cheap
stuff they’re using today. Doesn’t that make you wonder if the same holds true for the youth of
this generation? Do they know the value of a dollar? Do they know how to work? Are they kind
and polite or are they so attached to their phones that they don’t even notice others around
My family had the privilege of hosting two Campion Academy sophomore students from
Brazil this summer in our home. I wondered how they would be. How are Campion students
built? Are they flimsy like cheap furniture? I’m thrilled to report, I couldn’t have been happier with
what I saw from these boys. The students we had in our home were kind, polite, helpful,
hardworking and generous. They were all the things I would have hoped our students at
Campion to be. A summer was enough time to see their true characters come out. I was so
proud that the Campion students of today are still built as solid as they were in the good ole’
days. Come see for yourself this alumni weekend how the students at Campion Academy truly
are. You’ll be glad you did.
- Codi Davidson Jahn, Class of 2001, Campion Alumni Association President
If you missed alumni weekend this year, you missed a good one. I watched as friends reconnected, hugging and laughing with each other, even if they hadn’t been reunited in decades. I observed their children becoming friends. I watched with sadness as the class of 1953 remembered their fellow classmates who are no longer around to celebrate occasions such as these and was reminded that there’s a heavenly alumni reunion coming soon when we’ll all celebrate together.
The entire alumni weekend was filled with worship. Friday evening we listened as Richard Lawry (‘73) reminded us that if we miss Jesus, we miss it all. For Sabbath School, we heard reports on mission trips Campion students have recently been on, as well as the student-led evangelistic crusade called Wildfire. It was inspiring to hear how Campion students are not only participating in but leading out in evangelism.
For church, a quartet from the class of 1968 blessed us with special music. They were followed by our featured speaker Harold Alomia’s sermon, reminding us of the value in community. And really, isn’t that what Campion is all about?
On Saturday night, Union College led us in worship with a variety of musical groups and selections. Their music was fabulous.
Throughout the weekend, Campion students led out in praise and worship. I am always in awe of what a great job young people will do when given the opportunity to lead. Campion’s musical groups sounded wonderful all weekend; bells, choir and orchestra.
Thank you to all who came and reconnected this past alumni weekend, we look forward to seeing you again soon.
Alumni Board President