An Edzoocational Experience: Vet Tech Students Learn About Zoo Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering is a natural way to give back to the community, but it can also be a great way to gain experience and expand your network.

Lynn Pawelski, Associate Director of the Friends of the Zoo, visited Globe University – Madison East to share information with over 25 vet tech students about the Henry Vilas Zoo and the various volunteer opportunities.

Lynn discussed what it takes to become a zookeeper, explaining the organizational structure of the Henry Vilas Zoo.  The zoo has 13 zookeepers on staff, a zoo director, zoo curator, education curator, two maintenance staff, and an administration staff person.  With such as small staff it is surprising to learn the Henry Vilas Zoo has over 700 different animals from 150 different species and this free zoo is continually expanding. A new animal health center will begin construction later this year which will allow the zoo to connect with community members on a new level allowing the public an educational experience unlike any other.

There are three types of volunteer opportunities at the zoo including guest services, education and events.

Guest Services Opportunites include:

  • Face of the Zoo; greeting zoo goers, answering questions, giving directions, providing maps of the zoo
  • Train/Carousel; driving the zoo train or operating the carousel
  • Henry the Lion; dressing up in the Henry the Lion costume and interacting with visitors

Education Opportunities include:

  • “Ask Me”; providing information to visitors at one of the key exhibits such as the Aviary
  • Animal Ambassador; taking an artifact cart around zoo grounds and sharing information with visitors regarding a variety of educational resources
  • Meet & Greet; taking an animal around zoo grounds and sharing information about them to the public
  • Presenter; educating school children on field trips and the general public

Event Opportunities include:

  • Zoo Run Run
  • Halloween at the Zoo
  • Rock ‘n’ Roar Zoo Dance

All volunteer positions require training.