Volunteer Spotlight: Ross Kovarik

Volunteer Spotlight: Ross Kovarik

Ross started volunteering in August 2022. He came to Heartland via his wonderful partner, Julia, who started volunteering a year before him. Through her tales of animal friendship and rewarding manual work, Ross says he became sanctuary-curious. And once we found out he would be willing to learn how to drive the tractor, we seized on his interest. Ross laughs, “Before the word ‘tractor’ was fully processed by my brain, I shouted ‘Yes.’” And so was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 

Ross has become Heartland’s manure pile aficionado – from managing the size and shape to spreading it out in the pastures. While it may not be glamourous, it is very important work. He also performs a variety of other groundskeeping tasks from mowing and snow removal to hauling and restocking straw/hay, organizing our storage building, and being willing to tackle other miscellaneous projects around the property.

When asked what he loves most about volunteering, Ross says, “Heartland provides a relaxing and rewarding balance to my regular job, which involves sitting in front of a computer all week. It’s fun to play in the dirt. Being around the animals and people at the sanctuary for a few hours each week makes me happy and gives me a great sense of accomplishment.”

When asked who his favorite animal is, he said he and Betty White made a pact. He is to declare his love for her and she wouldn’t give him a “love bite.” (ha, ha). Ross recounts, “Betty White and I were talking and stargazing a few nights ago out in the pasture, and she said to me, ‘You know, no one has ever picked me as their favorite animal in the volunteer spotlight.’ With a glint in her eye she said, ‘If you don’t do it, there may be consequences.’ But seriously, I like her a lot and enjoy watching her try to figure things out, like how to open doors. She’s so smart.”

Ross is a true outdoorsman who loves to loves to run, bike, ski and kayak. He also loves to cook. He and Julia try to travel when they can and enjoy hanging out with their pets at home, which includes a dog, cat and bird.

THANK YOU, Ross, for all you do to keep the Heartland property safe, organized and cleaned up (among much else)! Betty White wants you to know that you are greatly appreciated.