Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Volunteer of the Year 2013 Jena Baumgarten

As volunteer coordinator for the World Bird Sanctuary it is my pleasure each year to present the volunteer of the year award.  This year was special because the staff and senior management nominated and chose my dear friend Jena Baumgarten!  

Jena became a volunteer in December 2005.  At the time she answered our application question, “Why do you want to volunteer at WBS?” by saying, “To learn about the different types of birds you have and to be able to educate the public.” She has certainly accomplished what she set out to do, and then some!  In her eight years with WBS she has logged 2129.5 hours helping the birds!

As an education volunteer Jena regularly assists our staff with presenting programs around St. Louis and surrounding areas as well as traveling on overnight, out of town trips. 

Due to the amount of time Jena has put in over the years and the experience she has gained, she is one of a handful of volunteers that we ask to be “chick in charge” for displays and small programs.  This basically means that as a volunteer Jena goes out with another volunteer and carries the responsibility of a staff person at a raptor display.  She can also regularly be found giving tours of World Bird Sanctuary.
Jena’s time does not end with programs.  She also assists me with our volunteer program, helping me with orientations to get new volunteers started.  This past summer she also ran our volunteer program for eight weeks while I was out on maternity leave--fielding emails, running orientations, and checking up on new volunteers to see how things were going.  She loves to spread her excitement and love of WBS to anyone she encounters.

Jena has also done an amazing job of getting her family involved.  She regularly brings family and friends to WBS, as well as giving a Return to the Wild as gifts for her family (a Return to the Wild allows a person who donates money to WBS to release a bird to the wild that WBS rehabilitated).  In addition she is regularly getting her husband involved by helping us with in-kind car part donations to keep our fleet of aging vehicles up and running.

The dictionary describes a volunteer as one who voluntarily gives of their time and resources without expectation of compensation or reward.  Jena and all our volunteers certainly fit that description.

Submitted by Teri Graves, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer & Special Events Coordinator

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