We had the good fortune of connecting with Tracy Vogt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tracy, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I started Charlie’s Acres Farm Animal Sanctuary in 2016 in response to a need I saw in the non profit space to address the concerns of farm animals.
I worked for a medical non profit previously, which I loved, but realized my personal passion involved animals as well as non profits. I wanted to combine both of my passions, and came up with the idea of a farm animal sanctuary in California. There are billions of farm animals in the world whose voices are not heard. I realized I could start a non profit that not only rescued animals, but also provided an educational experience for the humans involved. It would give people the opportunity to come face to face with farm animals who often end up on their dinner plate. Our goal is to let people make a connection to these animals and have a joyful but education experience, getting to know everyone’s personalities and their individual rescue stories.
I personally struggled with the enormity of the issues and the practical difficulties in taking care of these often traumatized farm animals, however, I realized with the help of hired staff, dedicated volunteers, and an excited community, this could be a valuable business, non profit, and service to the local and global community.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started a 32 acre farm animal sanctuary in Northern California with approximately 150 rescued animals. All the rescued animals have come from trauma, abuse, abandonment, or disasters such as wildfires.
The thing I’m most excited about, aside from rescuing these amazing animals, is all the educational programs we are doing here at Charlie’s Acres. We are developing an extensive childhood educational program allowing students and teachers to virtually “adopt” one of our rescued animals and learn alongside their teachers about these wonderful animals and their characteristics, all while adhering to Humane Education curriculum mandated by the school systems. We also are offering animal assisted therapy which provides other non profit groups, senior centers, and youth social services a chance to interact in a vulnerable way with our animals who have also had a rough go at life. We often see amazing transformations in both the humans and the animals. It’s honestly one of the most rewarding things in life to read the stories of appreciation from the humans after visiting and experiencing the sanctuary and the animals.
Getting to where we are was not easy. Our main challenge is fundraising and finding the funds to do all the amazing things we want to do to help both humans and animals. I think one of our main challenges in relation to this, is just finding focus. Realizing we want to do it all and go full speed ahead, but not having the proper staffing or funding in place ahead of time is a big challenge for us to keep focused.
Another challenge is making sure people know we are not just “local” to the Bay Area, but are in fact working not only statewide, or nationally, but globally. We provide virtual educational experiences to schools not only across the country, but also globally, including the Philippines. We’ve also provided virtual tours to embassies worldwide, international companies, and corporations focused on everything from fighting COVID to defense contractors and entertainment companies in LA. I want our brand to be known as extending outwards beyond our local community.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In LA I have a particular affinity to the plant based restaurants that are not only tasty, but trendy! If you want to see and be seen, be sure to check out Plant by Matthew Kenney in Venice, Crossroads in West Hollywood, and Nic’s on Beverly in West Hollywood.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d love to give a shoutout to my fellow rescuers in the space that mentored me as I started this sanctuary and continue to offer their support and dedication to the cause – Monica Stevens at Jameson Humane in Napa, Erica Gregory at Flatbroke Farm, and Anna Sweet at Sweet Farm.
Gustavo Perez Sonya Yruel