It’s National Volunteer Week from 1-7 June and to celebrate we want to highlight the amazing work of our dedicated volunteers.
We have more than 130 volunteers who make up the Marwell Wildlife family and they all play a vital role in helping us to achieve our charitable objectives. From all ages and different walks of life with a shared interest in conservation, wildlife and the environment, our volunteers make a fantastic contribution to our success with their varied skills. People want to volunteer with us at the zoo for many different reasons, whether it’s to build new friendships, to make a difference to animal welfare, education and conservation, or to develop their confidence and build new skills, volunteering can have a huge impact on people’s lives.
Here Gareth, one of our amazing volunteers, shares his experience of volunteering at the zoo.
“I’ve always had an interest in animals from a very young age, wanting to learn more about them and how we can help them. On my fourth birthday, my mum booked me into my first children’s Oryx Club session later that month. I started in September 1996 and worked my way through each age group until September 2010 when I became a volunteer for the Oryx Club, which is now the Wild Explorer Club. “I still volunteer at Marwell because I love the feeling I get from knowing I’m helping more children learn to appreciate and help animals. I know I’m making a difference through some of the feedback I receive from parents and it’s great to see the enthusiasm many of the children show at the sessions.
“Marwell has been a constant through my life and I feel that through volunteering, if I’m the reason at least one of the children we teach goes on to further their education in animal care and gets a job helping to protect them, then I have made a difference. “A typical day volunteering for me starts at 9.30am on the third Sunday of most months. I help to set up rooms for any crafts or activities before joining staff and other volunteers to recap the topic and our plan of action before the morning session runs from 10.30am until 12.30pm. I’ll then help set up the rooms ready for the afternoon sessions. The new format of the Wild Explorer Club has the younger age group of 4-8 year olds (Zebra Scouts) one month and the older age group 9-13 year olds (Rhino Rangers) the next.
“There are a lot of things I get out of volunteering at Marwell Zoo. Being part of a team of volunteers and staff who share a common goal is a great feeling. I feel very privileged to be in a position where I feel I am helping to make a difference with the hope that I am passing on the passion I have for all wildlife and how to help with conservation.
“Finally it is good to volunteer for such a great charity and my local zoo which has been part of my whole life and inspired me to take the path of education I did.”
Vicky Warren, a Learning Manager here at Marwell, added: “We have a fantastic team of Wild Explorer Club volunteers and Gareth is brilliant. He is proactive and always ready to help out in any way he can with his calm, unflappable manner and he has a great rapport with the children. We hope he’ll continue to be involved with the Wild Explorer Club for many more years to come.”