BayCoast Bank creates scholarship at West Place Animal Sanctuary in Tiverton



BayCoast Bank this week announced the establishment of the BayCoast Bank Fellowship at West Place Animal Sanctuary, a non-profit organization located in Tiverton.

The scholarship will be awarded to a student enrolled in West Place’s Education Internship Program, which provides local high school and college students with an immersive, hands-on experience of working with rescued farm animals and injured or orphaned wild animals.

West Place Animal Sanctuary is the only such organization in the area. For 15 years, West Place has served Rhode Island and southern New England providing forever homes and lifelong care for farm animals rescued from abuse, neglect and cruelty.

Additionally, the eight-acre farm is an approved wildlife rehabilitation center and serves as a lost dog sanctuary for the towns of Tiverton and Little Compton. West Place relies on volunteers and student interns to provide daily animal care 365 days a year.

“We are thrilled to welcome BayCoast Bank as the first funder of a student scholarship,” Wendy Taylor, founder and executive director of West Place Animal Sanctuary, said in a statement. Previous scholarships have been funded by individuals and families.

“Our education internship program is the cornerstone of our humane education efforts, says Taylor. “Our summer program and school program provide unique experiential learning opportunities for local students. Interns assist in all facets of our nonprofit organization, including animal care, wildlife rehabilitation, food cultivation, veterinary care, farm maintenance and much more.

The Education Internship Program is currently free to all students who apply and demonstrate a basic ability to participate safely in agricultural activities, but as Taylor notes, it is only through the generosity of donors that the program can stay that way.

“We established the Bobbert Memorial Scholarship Fund last year in memory of our beloved alpaca, Bobbert. Our goal is to honor Bobbert’s unique soul and carry on his legacy by providing humane education programs to the next generation of animal welfare advocates. BayCoast Bank’s commitment to education in the communities it serves makes it the ideal flagship business partner to help us cultivate a more compassionate community.

BayCoast Bank has long been one of the strongest supporters of education initiatives in the region. “We invest heavily in education because we know it can transform lives. We strive to support organizations across our branch network, and we were thrilled to learn more about West Place Animal Sanctuary and its mission,” explained Julie Ramos Gagliardi, Senior Vice President of Donations at company and community relations at BayCoast Bank in a statement. “The grant to support the Bobbert Memorial Scholarship Fund has given us the opportunity to fund a unique educational program that not only transforms the lives of student interns who are invited to participate in this hands-on experience to learn about animal care, environment, and sustainability, this grant also serves to transform the lives of the many animals that the Sanctuary regularly cares for.

In the summer of 2021, West Place awarded the first scholarship to an intern student, Lillian Hanson, an undergraduate student at Tufts University who is studying to become a veterinarian. Reflecting on his experience, Hanson says, “West Place Animal Sanctuary’s internship program introduced me to aspects of the world of animal rescue and rehabilitation that I never dreamed of experiencing firsthand. Additionally, I was able to have conversations with various farm animal veterinarians and made connections with wildlife rehabilitators and animal rescue organizations. Hanson adds: “West Place will always be like a second family to me. This sanctuary – its animals, its volunteers, and the countless stories and lessons I learned – will always have a special place in my heart because I loved my summer internship experience.

Growing interest in West Place’s Education Internship Program requires more time, resources and planning each year to provide experiential learning opportunities that have lifelong impact. The BayCoast Bank Scholarship offsets West Place program expenses related to recruitment, candidate screening and interviewing, planning, onboarding, accelerated training, and continuing education.

The scholarship will be awarded to a deserving intern student from the school program this spring. Students interested in participating in West Place’s Education Internship Program can visit westplace.org/internships for more information and an application.

Companies or individuals wishing to establish a scholarship through the Bobbert Memorial Scholarship Fund can learn more at westplace.org/bobbert-memorial or by contacting the West Place Animal Sanctuary directly.