By Julianne Werts

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a part of the Lee Richardson Zoo team? Do you have an interest in working with animals but aren’t sure where to do so? Volunteering with the Zoo is a great way to start. You can learn all about our volunteer program this Saturday, Feb. 27, at 2 p.m. at the Finnup Center for Conservation Education!

Becoming a Lee Richardson Zoo Volunteer offers many opportunities to learn new skills, connect with new people, and give back to the Garden City community. And the fact that you can do all of these things while being surrounded by animals from around the world is just icing on the cake!

There are many different ways you can be involved at the Zoo. If you enjoy helping out behind the scenes, some opportunities for Volunteers include assisting with setting up for large events, preparing craft supplies for our Story Time participants, and maintaining our library and biofact collections. If you like gardening, we can always use help around the Zoo with weeding, planting, and making our garden spaces look nice!

For those who like to work with people, Volunteers can also help with our camps and Animal Encounters once those start up again! After one year as a Volunteer, you can also choose to become a Docent! Our Docents get extra training to learn the best ways to teach people about the animals, and they get to have even more guest-facing roles throughout the Zoo. Docents can lead the Animal Encounters, run Discovery Carts where visitors learn new facts about nature, and join our staff on educational programs both at the Zoo and in local schools!

You can also become an Animal Handler after your first year of Volunteering! As an Animal Handler, you get to work closely with our Ambassador Animals at the Zoo by socializing them, which is when we handle them behind the scenes, so the animals stay comfortable and feel safe around people. You can also assist us with bringing the animals on programs and presenting them to visitors, which helps others learn more about each species!

There is a ton of fun to be had when volunteering at the Lee Richardson Zoo! If you think you might be interested in joining the Volunteer Team, stop by the Finnup Center for Conservation Education for our open house Information Session on Saturday, Feb. 27, any time between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. We would love to answer any questions you have and tell you more about how to get involved! For more information, you can also email us at

Julianne Werts is the education coordinator at Lee Richardson Zoo.