Global Volunteer Month recognizes volunteers around the world for their hard work and dedication to community and causes. During National Volunteer week, the Virginia Zoo is giving a thankful roar to our incredible volunteers (aka the Zoo Crew)! 

How do volunteers contribute to the Virginia Zoo? 

The short answer is time and talent! Last year, our volunteers contributed over 122,000 hours. At an average value of $29.95 an hour. This translates to an overall value of $3,653,900 in 2022 alone! We expect this value to keep increasing with a growing volunteer force in 2023. 

To understand the impact volunteers have on our zoo’s success, let’s take a closer look at some of the ways they contribute. 

The Virginia Zoo offers volunteer opportunities for both adults and youth. Our Conservation Youth Team is an intensive and competitive program that gives high-school aged teens the chance to learn more about animals and conservation, earn community service hours, and spend time engaging with guests and assisting with the various programs we offer! Out of the 122,000+ hours garnered in 2022, over 71,000 of those were from our amazing CYTs.

Pictured: Our CYT team posing at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News. 

From husbandry support to interpretation, there are also many ways that adults can get involved in supporting our Zoo.  

Our Zoo Crew also helps with day-to-day needs like assisting our membership team with office tasks; providing staffing and support before, during, and after special events, trail interpretation to enhance guest engagement, and litter patrol across Zoo grounds. Each volunteer is an integral part of the Zoo ecosystem, providing the valuable support for our animals, conservation, and guest experience. 

Many people think of animal husbandry as working directly with the animals. But often, this work is behind the scenes helping with things like cleaning enclosures. Our volunteers enjoy doing animal husbandry because it provides our keeper staff with additional time to provide additional animal enrichment opportunities, improving the lives of the animals who live at the Zoo. 

Many of these roles are in informed by extensive training and mentorship from a current volunteer. Needless to say, our volunteers are some of the greatest Zoo experts you’ll find!  

Pictured: A group of our adult volunteers immersed in one of the required training courses lead by our Conservation Engagement Manager, Kate Reichert.

Group volunteering is another great way that larger groups can get involved. We have a large number of jobs that require many hands on deck – fencing, mulching, horticulture, and more! We often welcome corporate groups, military crews, zoo sponsors and partners, and other volunteer groups to help keep our zoo in superlative shape. Interested in participating? Find out more about our current group volunteer opportunities here

So, what’s coming up? 

This week, we will be showing our Zoo Crew some extra love and appreciation! This includes free behind-the-scenes tours, a specialty item raffle, and providing refreshments each day. 

As we welcome guests for a busy summer of fun, we know our volunteers will continue to go above and beyond supporting these exciting conservation and entertainment opportunities we have planned. 

Our Volunteer Coordinator, Geoffrey Eppley cannot express enough gratitude for our incredible volunteers. In a message of gratitude to our Zoo Crew, he states, “We are constantly appreciative of the work that our volunteers do. We truly couldn’t run as efficiently as we do without you.” 

The outstanding impact that volunteers make worldwide is moving. Here at Virginia Zoo, we could not be prouder of the many diverse, dedicated, and inspirational people who walk through our gates ready to lend a helping hand where it’s needed the most. Thank you to each and every volunteer!  

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a volunteer at the Virginia Zoo, please visit our website to fill out an application or contact our team at [email protected]