Meet Chris, our March Volunteer of the Month! Chris has been volunteering with Heartland for a year and has become a dedicated part of our volunteer family. In addition to doing her regular animal care shift on Thursday mornings, Chris keeps our 70+ rescued animals happy, healthy and full with regular produce deliveries from the Badger Prairie Needs Network. Multiple times each week, Chris drives to the barn to deliver boxes and bags full of fresh fruits and veggies. We and the animals thank you, Chris!
1. What do you do in your time outside of Heartland?
I am a retired federal employee. I spent my career working for the Department of the Interior and greatly enjoyed working to conserve wild things and wild places. I continue to volunteer for the government and contribute to a variety of projects. Last summer I helped out by traveling to Fort Collins, CO, and assisting with making baits to vaccinate prairie dogs against plague. I continue to stay active in my professional organizations and volunteer for a variety of other local organizations.
2. How did you find out about Heartland? What got you interested?
In retirement I wanted to give back to the community and had the time to do so now that I was retired. I did not want to spend my time driving and looked for opportunities close to Verona. One of my first activities was volunteering at the Badger Prairie Needs Network
which operates the food pantry in Verona. The coordinators of the pantry at the time introduced me to Heartland. They arranged to take the produce that was no longer suitable for distribution in the pantry to Heartland. I was one of the ‘delivery’ persons and started to learn about the animals at Heartland and its mission. I was hooked and wanted to learn more about the animals and to spend time outdoors. So I volunteered for animal care and continue to deliver the produce.
3. Can you describe a favorite/memorable moment or event at HFS?
I am regularly on the Thursday AM shift; so I was scheduled to be at HFS on Thanksgiving morning. That morning volunteers from other shifts along with other family members showed up to help out. We had enough experienced volunteers that it was not chaos and got the morning chores done in record time. Then we got to give the pigs special treats – pumpkins. We broke them open and watched each of the big pigs and mini pigs eat the pumpkins from the inside out. That morning was special not only because the weather was great but also it was fun to meet volunteers from the other shifts. I greatly appreciated their extra help to get things done quickly and to get us all back to our families.
4. What is your favorite part about volunteering for HFS?
I greatly enjoy working with everyone at HFS. I have been volunteering for about a year and have learned a lot from the experienced folks on my shift, not only about the animals but also about many other topics (such as craft fairs). I have enjoyed working occasionally on other shifts and with other volunteers at the special events. I have been inspired by the dedication and commitment of the volunteers at HFS. It is rewarding to work with such a wonderful group of people.
5. What do you wish other people knew about Heartland?
I wish that other people knew more about the youth programs, especially the animal therapy programs. I have had only a short time to observe but have seen connections form between the campers
and the animals quickly. At the beginning of the week, they were concerned about where they stepped but by the end of the week they wanted to jump right in and help out with feeding and mucking. The notes and pictures that kids send after a visit illustrate that a real connection was made with the animals. I wish that more kids would have the opportunity to spend time with the chickens, geese, ducks, pigs, goats, sheep, and other animals at HFS.
6. If you could adopt only one HFS animal, who would you pick and why?
I would have to take two because I would not want to separate Reggie
and Sweet Pea
. I enjoy watching them together. One is never far from the other. It is just so soothing to hear their chirping and clucking. Their feathers really glisten in the sunlight and I am particularly impressed by Reggie’s ‘pants’.