The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Wonderfully Wild. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Wonderfully Wild.

Monday Minute

Volunteers - Unique Conservation Partners

JJ Leissing, Director of Education Engagement September 13, 2021

As Agents of Conservation, our volunteers interpret the plants and animals at The Living Desert to inspire our guests to take conservation action. These passionate individuals share stories with our guests about the important conservation work that The Living Desert participates in both locally and internationally.

We sat down with a few of our volunteers to have them describe in their own words what volunteering is like at The Living Desert.

Volunteer Spotlight

Teri Aitken (1.5 years of service), Giraffe Host

I have learned so much. It is an honor, and I can’t believe I get to do this! I have learned so much in the past year and half. I have learned things I didn’t even know I was interested in. I love seeing the smiles of our guests. At the giraffe platform I love seeing them walk away with an amazing experience.

Bill Baker (11 years both as a staff and volunteer), Certified Interpretive Host, Guide, and Trainer through the National Association of Interpretation

One of my favorite things about volunteering at The Living Desert is that I can help give someone the best day ever. Being able to talk about our incredible conservation stories and the work The Living Desert does as a global organization- giving back to sustain animal species for future generations.

I love talking about our Bighorn sheep, but all the animals have such wonderful conservation stories. It’s so inspiring to have people walk away with a greater understanding about what The Living Desert does.

Jeannie Bilodeau (9 years of service), Certified Interpretive Host through the National Association of Interpretation

Wherever I physically am is my favorite place to be at The Living Desert. My favorite animal is whichever one I am near. The Living Desert is my happy place.

I love that as a volunteer, I get to talk to people. I love to talk! I get to explain what zoos are really all about. When people understand what The Living Desert does, it is amazing to see them get it!

Jan Demarbiex (33 years of service)

One of my favorite places to volunteer is the Welcome Center- I like to be the first person to greet our guests and describe all the things they can do.

I am passionate about The Living Desert. It is a joy to get to talk about the deserts of the world to our guests.

Angie DiSanto (3 years of service)

What I enjoy most about volunteering at The Living Desert is seeing so many guests as returning visitors. It is wonderful to see people come back, and it erases some of the negative feelings of the world. I have worked just about all the areas at The Living Desert, and I love them all! I hope to keep doing what I love.

Mike Harris (3 years of service)

My favorite area to volunteer is in North America as a Conservation Ambassador. I love sharing stories with our guests. It is rewarding to talk to guests and then hear them relay that same conservation story to others.

My favorite part about volunteering at The Living Desert is the flexibility and opportunity to learn new things. I love the interactions I have with guests. It is personally rewarding to share our stories and talk to people who are both interesting and interested to really make connections.

Gerry LaBuda (3 years of service) works as a Giraffe Host and in the Tennity Wildlife Hospital

The hospital team is just incredible! There is such a diverse number of animals that the team cares for. When people visit the hospital and can see procedures that the vets perform, they are just fascinated.

I love learning about the animals, conservation, and people. I have learned through my time as a volunteer that everyone has a different reason for being here. You have to be able to read them to get them interested and inspired.

Stu Roy (7 months of service), works in the Tennity Wildlife Hospital

I enjoy the interaction with guests. I have been in the medical field for 55 years so being in the hospital is second nature to me. I love interacting with the vet staff.

Did You Know

•Over the last 5 years, our volunteers have contributed over 190,000 hours of volunteer service to The Living Desert!

• Our volunteers support The Living Desert through a wide range of positions. Whether it’s working with the public, assisting with animals, caring for our gardens, or operating our Bighorn Railroad model trains there is something for everyone!

• Active volunteers receive a number of benefits including exclusive educational opportunities, discounts, and social activities. Join our team- become a volunteer today!

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