In 2021, Assiniboine Park Conservancy celebrated the 10th anniversary of its volunteer program.

Looking back over the years, it is incredible how the volunteer team has grown alongside the exciting advancements that have taken place in the Park and Zoo. 

“Our vision for the volunteer program was really that it would become a critical support component of everything we hoped to do as an organization,” said Margret Redmond, President and CEO. “It has become more than we ever imagined.”

Volunteers are key in creating a memorable and exceptional experience for our guests. Our volunteers share a passion for the Park and Zoo, seeing the impact that these places have on visitors in terms of connecting with nature and inspiring people to make a difference.

Barbara Walley, who started volunteering in 2012, remembers when the polar bears first arrived at the Zoo. She was asked to watch Hudson, the polar bear, as the construction workers were nearby building the Gateway to the Arctic bear habitat we see today. “I thought Hudson would enjoy a story, so I brought my Winnie the Pooh book and sat and read to him,” she said. “He just sat and listened. Me and this beautiful polar bear. This memory will stay with me forever.”

Don Hudson spent time with students in Toucan Ridge and saw firsthand the impact the Zoo has on kids, “they really enjoy the Zoo and take away so much from their time here - I never really noticed that before.”

The Zoo’s high standard of animal care and conservation are also possible because of our volunteers. “You get a whole different perspective on accredited zoos and what their importance is as far as in conservation and species survival,” said Jayne Sims. “Our Zoo is certainly something to be proud of.”

At the Zoo, there is always something new and exciting needing volunteer support. Bob Cassie helped guide the Arctic Vets crew when they were filming around the Zoo. “They were operating on a polar bear and I got to be right behind the scenes in the same room. I thought that was fantastic.”

Everyone at the Park is very excited for what the future holds for the volunteer program.

“I am looking forward to where the APC volunteer program is going to go,” said Debbie Hannah, VP People Strategy and Services. “It is going to expand exponentially and there are going to be so many new and exciting positions and opportunities for people to be involved in.”

With the anticipated opening of The Leaf in late 2022, we are looking for more volunteers to join our team to interact with both the gardeners and visitors who come to explore this amazing attraction.

“I know the volunteers will continue to be an integral part of whatever we grow into,” said Redmond.

On behalf of everyone at the Assiniboine Park Conservancy we would like to thank our volunteers for 10 amazing years!