Editor’s Choice Award: 2015 Special Recognition – Jordan Russell

Feb 22, 2016
The Reptile Report
by Judy Clothier

The Reptile Report - It’s my honor and pleasure to announce the winners in our special 2015 Editor’s Choice categories. More special categories winners will come on Wednesday, Feb 24th, and all the primary category winners for Editor’s Choice will be announced on Thursday, Feb 25th. Reader’s Choice winners are coming on Monday, Feb 29th, so hold on to your seats for more exciting news coming soon!

New for 2015 is our Special Recognition Award, going to two individuals for their amazing and tireless work at RAACA (Reptile and Amphibian Charity Auctions). So far, RAACA has raised an astonishing $317,609, with $275,903 going directly to USARK. Congratulations, Jordan Russell, and thank you for your hard work, innovation, and dedication!

Jordan Russell

I began keeping and breeding animals at a young age, keeping a small group of rex & lop rabbits at around five years of age. By the time I was seven, I had set up my first birds to breed in the back yard. My family was fairly accommodating of my unusual hobbies, but drew the line at snakes not being permitted in the house. So I kept tortoises. By the time I was in junior high I had a rather extensive collection of birds. I had conures, macaws, cockatoos and Indian ringneck mutations producing for me by my freshman year of high school. I eventually pushed my way into being permitted to keep snakes and lizards, and I have never gone without them in my life since.

I import/export and breed reptiles for a living, working full time at it since late 2009. I have produced around 25 species of Psittacine (parrots), and more than twice that many species of reptiles so far. I have a propensity toward chasing a challenge which has led to some really exciting projects, some of which have succeeded and others which haven’t.

The project that I have been involved in which has had the most impact on herpetoculture would have to be RAACA (Reptile and Amphibian Charity Auctions). This is a collaborative effort of numerous people all chipping in together to raise money for USARK. So many people have generously donated animals they’ve produced, artwork they have created and other items to help USARK get the financing they so desperately need. The bidders have historically been a rather amazing group of people, with most events breaking the status quo of “auction bargain hunting”. Bidders frequently chase up values, and happily over-pay for items. It is clear that this is not an “auction house” like so many others; but rather a place to raise money for USARK which helps ALL of us. Then on the backside of running things you have numerous people who’ve donated so much time and effort to make the events possible. Houssam Istanbouli, Rebecca and Myke Clarkson, Erin and Erick Briggs, Linda Davison of Miner-all, Cameron Lamb, Devon Massyn and my wife Tammy Russell have all worked their tails off to make RAACA a possibility.

While USARK has been our primary focus, we have also done a fair bit of fundraising for a really noble group. Forever Wild Animal Sanctuary is helmed by Joel and Chemaine Almquist. This is the place where so many unwanted, seized or abandoned wildlife goes in California. With tigers, lions, primates, birds, reptiles and seemingly countless alligators getting dropped off throughout the year, it is a sizable financial feet to maintain. We have tried our best to make sure that they never have to fear closing their doors. While we haven’t carried their operation, the reptile community has helped them through many tough times. That’s what this is all about, helping those who help us. Without organizations like Chemaine and Joel’s, where would these animals go? If these abandoned animals had no place to go, how would that impact the political atmosphere around pet keeping? We need to support the people who support us and Forever Wild personifies that for me.

We plan to continue pushing forward in 2016 after a rather slow 2015, where there was never enough time to make the events happen that we wanted to see move forward. With some wind in our sails, 2016 will be another banner year of support, and we truly hope to see everyone in the community band together to push for a stronger, better hobby.

— Jordan Russell

USARK