LANSING, Mich. — Potter Park Zoo in Lansing is one of mid-Michigan's most popular family-friendly destinations.
Did you know there are over 65 animal exhibits at the zoo, 500 animals and close to 300 of this week's Good Neighbors?
Valerie Duvall is one of the almost 300 volunteers that help run Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo.
One of Duvall's jobs is to run a conservation education station next to the bald eagle exhibit. Valerie says she loves working alongside the beautiful birds and helping people understand how important the birds are to the environment.
“I love giving our visitors information on the bald eagles, asking them questions, and getting them to think about what they observe when they see these animals at the zoo," Duvall said. "I ask them, ‘What do you see when you look at their eyes, ears, nose or beaks?’ I tell everyone you can tell a lot about animals by observing them.”
Duvall says her favorite animal is the bald eagle.
“Eagles are a bird of prey. Three things make a bird of prey. I always ask people if they can name one of the traits," Duvall said. "For your information, the things that make a bird of prey are the talons, their vision, and their beaks. That includes owls, hawks and any bird of prey.”
Kelly Gibson is Potter Park’s volunteer and membership coordinator. Gibson says the zoo’s volunteers are all a vital part of the zoo.
“Our volunteers communicate and deliver our mission and our message of inspiring the conservation of animals in the natural world," she said. "Volunteers also help us distribute and share that message to our community.”
Jack Laurain and his 5-year-old son, Luke, drove from Howell to visit the zoo. Jack says he is impressed with the zoo volunteers, like Duvall.
“I think she's a great neighbor because she took the time to explain a lot about the animals to myself and my son," Laurain said. "It’s engaging to have something like this when you walk through the zoo. It's nice to know that people care about donating their time, and I think it shows just how positive her energy is and how she took the time to explain the bald eagles.”
Potter Park Zoo is always looking for volunteers. Duvall says the time commitment is what you want it to be. Although volunteers don’t have direct access to the animals, they undergo free training to understand the animals' habitats and what makes them unique.
“Volunteering here is salve for your soul,” Valerie says. “It makes a bad day good and a good day great.”
We want to thank all the Potter Park Zoo volunteers, like Valerie Duvall, you are this week’s Good Neighbors.
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