Thank You Volunteers! Hear What our Team has to Say About Volunteering in 2020

Our Zoo Crew teen volunteers were awarded the 2020 Teen Program Of the Year Award from SAVMA – the South Arizona Volunteer Management Association.

What is it like to volunteer at your Zoo?

Today we participated in the #AZATeenTag2020 challenge on our social media to talk about our teen volunteer program, and it inspired us to share our appreciation for all of our volunteers! We are incredibly grateful for our diverse group of volunteers of all backgrounds and ages that help us with many positions throughout the Zoo. From cleaning to educating to grooming goats, our volunteers help with it all! We asked them some questions about their volunteer experiences to hear what they had to say.

Larry Newhouse enjoys assisting our animals care staff!

What do you enjoy about volunteering at the Zoo?

Meeting new people, being helpful, [and] feeling like I’m giving back,” says Zoo Events Volunteer, Katy Blohm.

“I enjoy the animals that I have worked around and talking with Zoo guests about the animals and conservation issues.  But most important I feel that as an animal care volunteer my work allows the keepers to do more of the extras that make our animals happier and healthy,” says Animal Care Volunteer, Larry Newhouse.

For Volunteer Docent Nora, her passion is “… educating people on animals and their significance to our world and conservation and how we must make this planet a better place to leave for generations to come.”

Docent Robin Meischer’s favorite part about volunteering is handing and presenting the box turtles to guests. Robin is currently the Zoo’s longest standing volunteer at 35 years of service!


What kept you connected to the Zoo while we were closed?

When the Zoo closed down, the behind the scenes work continued. The Zoo switched to virtual content to keep volunteers and guests engaged. Docent John Reid stayed connected though the “Weekly Docent Zoom Meetings, Docent Hangouts, Member e-mails and Zoo Facebook Page”. 

Have you been watching the Zoo’s webcams lately? Those webcams are often run by our volunteers! Docent Francis Peters can often be found educating guests about the flamingos, but when she’s not here she stays connected through running the webcams, making sure guests have great views of the animals. 


What Peter Ruiz likes most about volunteering is seeing the animals and educating people about animals!

Did you participate in any conservation actions or community work (Zoo or non Zoo related) while the Zoo was closed? If so, what did you do?

Even though the Zoo was closed, our volunteers like John Reid completed conservation actions like recycling and composting at home .

Docent Lisa Zamudio continued learning about conservation through the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) virtual expo. She also watched the information videos created by the Zoo keepers. Educators, and Marketing staff members. 

It’s never too early to learn about conservation! Docent Francis Peters spent her time in quarantine “teaching [her] grandchildren how to conserve water at home—turn off water while brushing your teeth.”


How would you encourage guests to connect to the Zoo or participate in conservation from home?

Reid Park Zoo volunteers also had to stay home while the Zoo was closed. As docent Nora Manka describes it “…It’s been very challenging during the Zoo closure to stay connected with people because of social distancing, masks, and so many things being shut down.” Now that the Zoo is open and welcoming back guests, it’s nice to see that “…people are enjoying the Zoo” and can help us achieve our mission of saving “…animals and [their] habitats”.


What Becky Copp most enjoys about volunteering is greeting guests and seeing how excited they are to see all the animals!

What are you most looking forward to when volunteering returns to normal?

“When the Zoo returns to normal I will be looking forward to more interaction with zoo guests,” says Animal Care Volunteer Larry Newhouse.

Docent in Training Mike O’Brian most looks forward to “teaching our guests about the Zoo and the animals”


We are so grateful for these dedicated individuals! If you are interested in becoming a Zoo volunteer, check out our volunteer information page!