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In honor of National Volunteer Week, we’d like to thank our irreplaceable volunteers for their time and energy all year-round.

“I appreciate our volunteers for their exceptional hard work and dedication to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and willingness to assist at any time,” said volunteer engagement coordinator Stacey Luhring.

Volunteers assist with guest engagement, horticulture, animal care, community science, dive operations, exhibit design, events, and visitor services. It’s likely you’ve met a volunteer while visiting the zoo. Many of them have probably answered your questions or shared stories of our animals.

Breaking down the numbers

  • In 2021, 190 youth and adult volunteers at the zoo donated a total of 12,092 hours of service.
  • Guest interpreters, a total of 74 adult and 37 youth volunteers, engaged with 95,000 zoo guests helping them learn about and connect with the animals, inspiring them to take action.
  • The dive team of 10 volunteers supported the aquarium team with 310 hours during 2021
  • Youth volunteers gave 3,105 hours during the summer of 2021 making 30,744 connections with our guests, educating them about conservation stories.

“We have the best volunteers around and are forever grateful for their unwavering support,” said conservation and engagement curator Wendy Spaulding.


Youth volunteers Logan Cornwell and Enjoli Shaw were honored by the City of Tacoma with a City of Destiny award for youth service. Horticulture volunteers Larry Clark, Scott Murdock, Tony Ciocca and Caitlin Harris were also honored by the city with a City of Destiny for Creating Destinations award. Read more about their positive impact on the zoo community.

youth planting raingarden
Zoo senior guide Logan Cornwell in the new raingarden at First Creek Middle School.
girl planting
Zoo Senior Guide Enjoli Shaw wins City of Destiny award
Horticulture volunteers Larry and Tony are instrumental in maintaining the Zoo’s landscapes

Shana Osmer was honored with the Brightman Volunteer Achievement award. Shana has been a shining star at Point Defiance Zoo for 15 years. She’s accumulated 3,595 lifetime hours of service to the zoo. Shana spends most of her volunteer time helping with Animal Encounters at the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater, bringing birds, reptiles, mammals, and insects out to meet zoo guests.

Volunteer Shana Osmer with Forrest the Eurasian eagle owl

“Shana provides informative and energetic animal appearances for the zoo’s guests,” said Luhring. “Her enthusiasm has been especially important over the last few years as our community looked for opportunities to enjoy time away from the stresses of the world.”

Youth volunteers were honored for their efforts interacting with guests over the summer season. Youth winners included: Hailey Layman, Rookie of the Year; Sydney Scott, Outstanding Interpreter; Tanner Toepfer, Goat Whisperer; and Emily Gamble, Outstanding Achievement.

Join us to volunteer at the zoo!