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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

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Junior outfielder Dan Tauken hits the ball.
PHOTOS: Baseball drops midweek game to SEMO
Rebeca Mertins Chiodini, Photo Editor • April 18, 2024

After coming off a winning weekend away, the Murray State Baseball team lost in what started as a close battle in their midweek match up...

Beyoncés newest studio album Cowboy Carter brings discussions on what should be deemed country.
The News Reviews: 'Cowboy Carter' by Beyoncé
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Sanctuary owner creates community

Owner+of+a+local+livestock+rescue+sanctuary%2C+Beth+Wilhelm-Atkins+explores+what+influenced+her+to+open+the+sanctuary.+Photo+courtesy+of+Beth+Wilhelm-Atkins.+
Owner of a local livestock rescue sanctuary, Beth Wilhelm-Atkins explores what influenced her to open the sanctuary. Photo courtesy of Beth Wilhelm-Atkins.

Local businesses are the hearts of small towns like Murray, Kentucky. Beth Wilhelm-Atkins understands the importance of small businesses better than most.

Wilhelm-Atkins co-owns A Place to Be Farm Sanctuary with her husband Greg Atkins. A Place to Be is a nonprofit livestock rescue that hosts many pet therapy events for the community. For the past 11 years, it has been Calloway County’s only sanctuary for abused and displaced farm animals.

The couple inherited a small farm, where they house pigs, goats, horses, chickens and more. Some of the animals come from neglect or hoarding cases in and around Murray. Others were displaced from their original farms by natural disasters. The farm’s owners and volunteers dedicate their time to rehabilitating these animals in the hopes that some may be adopted.

The sanctuary gained nonprofit status in 2021. Wilhelm-Atkins said she hesitated to take the nonprofit path because of the intimidating and complicated process. However, a friend with rescue work history helped the couple through the accounting work necessary to start.

Wilhelm-Atkins graduated from Murray State with a degree in music education. While she ultimately decided teaching in public schools was not the path for her, her schooling still helps her at the farm sanctuary. 

“I’m able to take what I learned in the education classes and apply it when kids who come out (to the farm) are going through some stuff,” Wilhelm-Atkins said.

A Place to Be strives to make a safe space for people as well as animals. Wilhelm-Atkins said as someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety all her life, she knows working with these animals can be very healing. She had the idea to open the farm up to the community and local schools so she could share the farm’s comforting atmosphere.

One of the biggest influences that led to the owners’ work was the passing of Wilhelm-Atkins’s mother. Like her daughter and son-in-law, she cared for livestock and saw them as more than future meals. They used their loss as motivation to help others through hard times. 

“We were very fortunate that we were able to take in her animals,” Wilhelm-Atkins said. “Dogs and cats are a lot easier to place, whereas livestock, you never know where they end up. A lot of times, it’s the dinner table.

She said starting a business was a daunting process, especially as a nonprofit, when success and safety nets are not guaranteed. In the farming industry, the work she and others have done in livestock rescue has not always been taken seriously. However, she said pursuing her work came with the freedom to set her own rules and a sense of community with other local businesses. 

Wilhelm-Aktins said knowing other small business owners support and lift each other up is a big part of what keeps her going. As a nonprofit organization, donations and partnerships with other businesses help keep A Place to Be running. Their community programs, like last summer’s “Kiss the Pig” fundraising event for teachers’ supplies, rely on neighboring organizations that have been nothing but supportive as the farm has thrived in recent years.

“It was worth going through all those hoops to get nonprofit status, and it has actually helped establish stronger bonds with other business owners,” Wilhelm-Atkins said. “Small businesses have their own little community, and it’s a good one here in Murray.”

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About the Contributor
Gray Hawkins
Gray Hawkins, Staff writer
Gray Hawkins is a freshman journalism major. They enjoy writing, reading, listening to some music and playing D&D. Some of their favorite book series are: The Inheritance Cycle, Six of Crows and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. They spend most of their time in the dorm with their ESA bearded dragon, Monarch.

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