Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteer Spotlight on Carol!
November 2018

In November, our spotlight focuses on an exceptional local volunteer, Carol W. With the National Aviary practically in her backyard, only two miles away from her home, Carol has dedicated over 1,680 hours to our mission of saving birds and protecting habitats through educating the public as a Docent and Educator.

A long time bird lover, Carol has always had birds in her life. For 13 years, she volunteered with PEAC (Parrot Education and Adoption Center), and has seven adopted parrots of her own. When the organization disbanded, she looked for other opportunities to share her avian passion and education. The National Aviary was a natural fit. A lifelong learner, Carol was happy to continue her personal education through our volunteer program.

“I'm continuously learning new things about conservation and knowledge that I would never have been exposed to.  I enjoy interacting with guests and passing along this information to help increase their understanding and awareness.  I really enjoy watching people's faces light up when they experience a special moment during their visit,” Carol commented upon her volunteer experience.

The National Aviary thanks Carol for helping her backyard birds—those here in our collection, those who she’s rescued, and all birds around the world that she gives a voice to every time she volunteers with us. Carol’s passion for our feathered friends, for her neighborhood, and for volunteering is inspiring!


Volunteer Spotlight on Sarah!
September 2018

One of the National Aviary’s most exceptional educators, Sarah Jones, is the highlight of September’s Volunteer Spotlight! Mrs. Jones, a resident of Fox Chapel, has been a volunteer at the National Aviary for four-and-half years. During her time with us she has served over 1,750 hours as a docent, and as an education volunteer. She brings her educational expertise to us as a retired teacher from the Wilkinsburg School District. Now, continuing her teaching career in a unique way, Ms. Jones has inspired children, and adults, alike all over the South-Western Pennsylvania region to join our effort in conserving our natural world. 

Sarah stated, "For the past four years it has been my privilege to volunteer at the National Aviary. To enter this amazing space on a weekly basis is truly a pleasure. Watching the delight on visitors’ faces as they stand mere feet from penguins, flamingoes, bald eagles, and so much more always makes me smile. Pittsburgh is so fortunate to have this treasure and I’m lucky to be a small part of it.”

On the converse, Sarah, the National Aviary is just as fortunate to have you as a volunteer. Your knowledge, deep understanding and care about our mission inspires both volunteers and staff to do their best every day. Thank you for your service! 


Volunteer Spotlight on Mike!
August 2018

Mike Crawmer, hailing from East Liberty, has been a volunteer at the National Aviary for over four and a half years. He began volunteering with the National Aviary in 2013 and has been a stalwart volunteer since then. With over 1,150 volunteer hours under his belt, Mr. Crawmer shares his knowledge with the our guests as a Docent every week. His drive and hard work helps to spread an appreciation of birds, and a greater understanding for the world we share, through his experience.

Mike said, “For most people, to volunteer is to give of oneself.  At the National Aviary I’ve been a happy giver for four-and-a-half years.  You can find me there almost every Monday (and on special occasions) because, as a retiree, I have the time, and, more importantly, because I find birds and people to be endlessly fascinating.  But I have come to realize that there are two sides to the coin of volunteering.  Yes, I gladly give but I also get.  First, there’s the dedication of the Aviary staff and fellow volunteers that inspires and energizes me.  I have grown as a person because I volunteer in a work environment that is based on mutual respect, friendship, and a shared love of birds.  Second, every day at the Aviary is a learning day.  I’ve learned a lot from observing its birds, from the oh-too-cute owl finches to imposing the Andean condors.  Meanwhile, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to meet people from near and far and introduce them to the natural world of birds.  All in all, it’s been an exciting volunteer adventure, one I look forward to continuing for years to come.”

Thank you Mike! Your dedication and enthusiasm is a tribute to your character and our volunteer program. 

Volunteer Spotlight on Helen!
July 2018

Since 2016, McMurray Resident Helen Spagna has shared her passion and consideration for the world around her with guests as a docent representing the National Aviary. Weekly, Helen acts as a steward and educator to the public about the National Aviary’s message of conservation. She has served over 400 volunteer hours and counting!

Helen says, “I have been a volunteer at the National Aviary for over two years, and the decision to do this was one of the best I’ve made in recent years. 

The rewards of volunteering are great. I really enjoy the people I’ve met and with, the wide variety of jobs offered to me, and of course, the birds. One thing that always stands out is seeing the pure joy on our visitors’ faces, especially when they have a direct interaction with the birds. Their smiles erupt when a lorikeet lands, to feed, on their arms or when a Wetlands bird eats out of their hands. That joy makes me feel so happy to be a part of it, and I  am sure it will help instill the desire in people to preserve the beauty and diversity of our planet.”

Thank you, Helen, for bringing your thoughtfulness and enthusiasm to our volunteer program!


Volunteer Spotlight on Fran!
May 2018

Mt. Lebanon, PA. resident Fran Reichl is the National Aviary's current Volunteer Spotlight! Ms. Reichl joined the National Aviary as a volunteer in 2016. With an unprecedented sense of passion and ambition, she has served over 1,900 volunteer hours in just a year and a half. Though her exceptional self-motivation, Ms. Reichl now serves as a docent and educator representing the National Aviary.

Ms. Reichl explained, “I moved back to Pittsburgh after a 17 year hiatus. During this long absence, many of my friends disappeared from the area. I signed on as a volunteer at the National Aviary to find new friends, who like me, were passionate about birds and I came to learn and to teach others about these incredible animals. These goals have been met beyond my imagination."

Thank you, Fran, for your exceptional spirit and passion as a volunteer!