During holiday breaks, myself and my coworkers in the Animal Care Department experience a very real reminder of just how much of our workload in covered by our volunteers. Many of them take holiday breaks from school and leave us for a few weeks, and we scramble to keep our animal collection healthy and happy. By the numbers, our volunteers contribute 70% of the total hours worked in Animal Care. This year, I got some extra help with one part of my job right as volunteer numbers were starting to dwindle.
Near the end of December one of my dedicated volunteers, Tyson White, took a bold step and did one of the two public demonstrations that our department gives each day.
Tyson, a senior at Champlain Valley Union High School, chose to work for us as part of Grad Challenge, a public service learning requirement at his school. In addition to learning all the in's and out's of our Sunday afternoon Animal Care duties, Tyson developed a bond with Winston, the Eastern ratsnake that lives in our Animal Care room. He first learned how to comfortably handle the snake and watched my version of "Meet the black ratsnake" demo. For his presentation, Tyson added some information about breeding time for the snakes and brought this information to a small crowd gathered to meet Winston. He did a great job, speaking comfortably with a four and a half foot snake in his hands. I enjoyed myself as Tyson's supervisor, mentor, and audience member.
Next week, ECHO celebrates our volunteers who keep us running. Stop by and help us thank them for all they do!