How did you first become involved with the Junior Museum & Zoo (JMZ)?
In 1990, I started volunteering at the San Francisco Zoo where Sequoia was an ambassador for the bald eagle breeding for release program. I had become very involved with Sequoia’s care and training, and for several years was the only one handling her. We became “bonded”.
I really enjoyed and felt privileged to be able to form a relationship with her, and flying her was quite thrilling! Forming a relationship with her, as challenging as it was, has really been a magnificent, life changing series of events for me. Then a few years ago, the bald eagle breeding program wound down due to the recovery of the species in the wild, and it seemed that Sequoia might be able to have a bigger educational role at another facility. When the opportunity arose for Sequoia to transfer to the JMZ it seemed like a perfect fit and also reunited Sequoia with John Aikin, the JMZ’s Director, who trained her when she first came into captivity after her injury. So she and I both found a new home at the JMZ.
What’s a typical day like when you volunteer at the JMZ?
On a typical day I come in, check with the staff for any updates I might need to know about, and then take Sequoia out of her enclosure and perch her on her lawn. I then take care of “housekeeping” duties such as preparing her food and cleaning her enclosure – much as one might do with a pet. I also spend “quality” time with her on my fist, which helps maintain the bond between us. This is very important, in that she is a wild animal and definitely not a pet. Occasionally I will take her out into the zoo so people get a chance to see her up close and personal. It’s very fun and rewarding to be able to share her with people, especially children.
In your opinion, what’s the most important work the JMZ does?
The JMZ is an amazing community resource, not only as a fun and educational place to visit, but also through the classes and programs offered here, as well as the partnership with schools.
It’s wonderful to see kids roaming through the zoo having a great time and also to see kids deeply involved in classroom projects. The JMZ has been a part of so many families lives over generations, people who came here as kids now bring their kids.
What do you do when you aren’t volunteering at the JMZ?
I recently retired after many years with the San Mateo County Office of Education. I am now adjusting to having so much free time and looking forward to new adventures.