Pride In Our People: HEather


Our digital series, Pride In Our People, features the incredible staff at the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium through written first-person narratives and/or podcast interviews.
Today, we are featuring Heather, Volunteer Services Manager

This is her story…

I have always loved animals, but I never thought about working at the Zoo until the summer that I was fourteen. My sister learned about the Zoo Teen volunteer program and decided that we should apply. Though I was less than enthusiastic about the idea, I went along with it – and I am so grateful that I did! After my experience as a Zoo Teen, I knew that a career at the Pittsburgh Zoo was my goal.

I graduated from Clarion University of PA with a Biology degree in 2000. I first worked as the Assistant Education Coordinator at the Ross Park Zoo in Binghamton, NY, where I discovered my passion for teaching, and was introduced to my first group of Zoo Docents. Their genuine commitment to their zoo and its animals impressed me, and still inspires me to this day. My dream of working at the Pittsburgh Zoo came true in 2003 when I took a position as an Education Specialist.

Last year, I took on a new role as the Zoo’s Volunteer Services Manager, overseeing the Zoo’s Docents, Zoo Teens, interns, and corporate volunteer groups, as well as assisting with the onboarding of our Volunteer Divers. I keep three words in mind when working with volunteers: Communication, Appreciation, and Respect. Our volunteers are here because they love animals, they support the Zoo, and they understand its importance to our community. My job involves training new volunteers, acting as a liaison between them and the staff, and ensuring that our volunteer programs continue to grow. It allows me to combine my love of teaching, my knowledge of the Zoo, and my admiration for volunteers into one unique role.

For me, the Zoo has become something of a family affair. My mother, Linda, has been a Docent since 2016, and my daughter, Maegan, became a Zoo Teen this summer – which means that there are now three generations of my family involved with the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium’s volunteer program! My mother was the one who instilled a love of animals in me, and it was no surprise that when she retired as a registered nurse, she signed up for Docent classes. I love watching my daughter shine in the Zoo Teen program, gaining confidence in herself just like I did all those years ago.

I love the diversity of the people that come to volunteer here, from communities all over Western Pennsylvania and beyond! It’s inspiring to see our Docents in action – their passion and enthusiasm for the Zoo, our animals, visitors, and staff is always evident! The Zoo Teens and the interns represent our future, as many of these young people will go on to begin careers in the zoological field. The corporate groups are always so excited just to be spending a day at the Zoo, eager to help with any tasks we have for them. It’s a testament to the fact that the Zoo is truly for everyone, and that animals have the power to bring people together!


Thank you for everything you do for the Zoo, Heather!

Pride In Our People

 Our new series, Pride In Our People, features the incredible staff here at the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium.