Meet Our 2022 Volunteers of the Years!
Fran Reichl and Reed Williams are the National Aviary’s 2022 Volunteers of the Year! Both of these long-time volunteers are recognized for their incredible leadership and generosity in sharing their talents to help our team deliver our mission.
For nearly seven years, Fran Reichl of Mt. Lebanon has been a fixture at the National Aviary. A retired biochemist, her comfort in the classroom and keen understanding of the natural sciences made her the perfect person to fill the role of Education Volunteer. Fran describes the time she spends doing Animal Encounters as “pure joy,” when she gets to do what she does best: help engage those who are curious about birds (and sloths—Fran also runs Sloth Encounters)!
The experience of volunteering has helped her connect with the National Aviary’s animal care staff, who, she says, are “the kindest, most understanding, and most helpful people you could ever work with.” It has also introduced her to people who have become very dear friends, and helped her bond with Red, a Scarlet Macaw who has become Fran’s favorite bird.
Reed Williams, who lives in Edgewood and volunteers with the C.C. Mellor Library and 412 Food Rescue, also began volunteering with the National Aviary about seven years ago. She jumped in, eager to do everything she could at the Aviary, from helping with crafts during special event weekends like Eggstravaganza to providing docent support in the habitats. These days, she spends many of her volunteer hours behind the scenes with the veterinary team. Reed brings her experience as a librarian and as a respiratory therapist to the important work of updating medical records for the more than 500 birds and mammals living at the National Aviary.
This work gives Reed insight into the innovations taking place in the Aviary’s veterinary hospital that typically are not seen by the public. She credits the veterinary team, led by Dr. Pilar Fish, for their creativity and their ability to adapt techniques and tools to care for birds. Their willingness to share what they discover to help birds around the world, as well as the generosity they show in helping interns learn, stands out. Reed is especially fond of the vultures living at the National Aviary.
Both Fran and Reed have the same advice for future National Aviary visitors: see the immersive bird show, and take your time in the habitats. “One of the most delightful things that could happen to you is to be in an immersive experience with birds. Sit down, watch how they behave, notice their personalities. You don’t rush past the ‘Mona Lisa’ in the Louvre,” says Fran.
Major changes have taken place at the National Aviary since Fran and Reed began volunteering, including the renovation of two historic habitats, Tropical Rainforest and the Wetlands, and the construction of The Garden Room. Fran and Reed see a bright future for the Aviary thanks to the innovative leadership of the organization and the dedication of its staff. They also see the Aviary deepening its engagement with the public and with conservation.
“People don’t realize just how much conservation work the National Aviary is doing,” Reed says. “Every time I see a Guam Rail, I grab whoever is around and point them out. There’s pioneering work taking place here!”
Volunteers play an essential role in that work, and we are so proud to call Fran Reichl and Reed Williams our Volunteers of the Year for 2022. We thank them for their incredible contributions to the National Aviary!