Volunteers are at the heart of our Zoo, and we are constantly looking for ways to show them how much we appreciate them! We recently held our 2021 Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, where our volunteers were thanked for their service via food, refreshments, goodies, awards and behind-the-scenes videos. It is with warm hearts that we congratulate our 2021 Volunteers of the Year, Mark Tomassone and Marjie Wolfe!
Traditionally, we choose one Volunteer of the Year to be recognized for their outstanding service based on recommendations from Zoo staff and other volunteers. This year, we had a record number of nominations submitted, making it near-impossible to choose just one —so we chose two!
In his three years as a volunteer, Mark Tomassone has given over 1,500 hours of his time to our institution. On Tuesday mornings, you might encounter Mark roaming the Zoo in his light blue polo as a Day Captain. This indicates that he is in charge of all of the volunteers on shift that morning, ensuring that everything is running smoothly. Mark also serves as a mentor in Wild Florida and at the Meerkat Hamlet in Expedition Africa. As if that is not enough, Mark also donates his time as a shuttle driver for Zoo staff, serves as a greeter at the front entrance, acts as a sous chef in the commissary, assists in education programs and serves on our sustainability team!
Being previously from Atlanta and having volunteered at the Atlanta Aquarium, Mark began volunteering at the Zoo at the “touch tank” in Paws On, which is currently under renovation. After we welcomed Florida black bear Cheyenne to the then newly built bear habitat, Mark transitioned to being a bear volunteer in Wild Florida. Cheyenne is, of course, his favorite Zoo resident.
“My favorite part of volunteering is being able to talk to kids and get them enthusiastic about wildlife conservation and the natural world,” said Mark.
Marjie Wolfe has been a volunteer for four years, donating nearly 1,900 hours of her time to the Zoo during that time. She serves as a mentor in Wild Florida and at our Conservation Kiosk but is known for assisting in every area of the Zoo. Most notably, Marjie is known for staying far past her regular shift to help wherever the Day Captains need her. “Her knowledge of the animals, their names, and origin stories is that of a lifetime Brevard Zoo member,” said Kathleen Nichols, the Zoo’s Director of Volunteer Programs. Marjie is also a member of our enrichment team, where Zoo volunteers gather to create fun, sustainable items for animals to interact with.
Marjie has always loved animals but has a special interest in native wildlife and plants. “Helping people with misunderstandings about animals and zoos learn their importance is one of my favorite parts of volunteering,” said Marjie. “I love educating guests about the importance of conservation, nature and wildlife.”
Although the Zoo has not been home to red wolves since 2019, Marjie fell in love with the species. So much so that she is a part of the Red Wolf Coalition, a group that advocates for the long-term survival of this species through education and public involvement.
Marjie and Mark are exemplary examples of the volunteers that dedicate their time to Brevard Zoo. It is because of them, and our many other incredible volunteers, that we are able to fulfill our important mission work in the areas of animal wellness, conservation and education.
In 2021, our volunteers donated a total of 83,527 hours of their time. Their dedication saved the Zoo over $1.25 million dollars, equating to 40 full-time employees! Interested in becoming a Brevard Zoo volunteer? Submit an application! Our next training session is Saturday, May 7 for those interested.