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Taronga Volunteers were recognised as part of the NSW Volunteer Of the Year Awards

In August Taronga nominated 13 volunteers across TZ and TWPZ for the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards program.  All were finalists and presented Certificates at regional awards events. 

In the Sydney North Region Taronga Zoo volunteer Dinah Beeston won the 2014 Adult Volunteer of the year from 22 finalists.  Dinah was chosen for her large and varied contribution to Taronga, from coordinating 2013 ‘Dreamnight’ to her 8 years of volunteering in visitor services, assisting as a volunteer coordinator and her work with the Taronga Foundation.

Both Dinah and Bob from Taronga Western Plains Zoo represented Taronga as state finalists for NSW Volunteer of the Year at an awards presentation at the Kirribilli club on 5th December 2014.


Volunteer Week 2014 at Taronga

It’s the 25th Anniversary of Volunteer week, at Taronga we’re celebrating the power of volunteers, with over 600 volunteers across Sydney and Dubbo and another 400 youth volunteers we have a lot to celebrate.


Our volunteers greet and help our 1.6 million visitors each year, create amazing enrichment items for our animals, conduct ground breaking research, and do office administration, from the glamorous to the mundane nothing is too much for this big hearted hard working group.

At Taronga Zoo we had a thank you lunch for our volunteers and presented awards to our volunteers who go above and beyond in support of conservation, from a volunteer in our foundation who’s running the great ocean road half marathon on Sunday for Team Taronga, to volunteer trainers, who teach other volunteers about our animals and conservation.  We recognised a new tour guide who is so passionate about Taronga she sells volunteer led tours on the ferry on the way to work, to an experienced volunteer who we had to ‘trick’ into attending the lunch as she refused to abandon her post!  The stories are numerous, inspiring and humbling.  So, this week (and every week) we say thank you to everyone who has given even a minute of their most precious gift, their time, to support us.  We couldn’t imagine Taronga without you. 

Volunteer Week Award Winners

B: Be supportive and enthusiastic; this award acknowledges volunteers who go above and beyond to support our people and show outstanding enthusiasm in the execution of their role.

Highly commended – Judy Ashenden ‘Bubbles’ image:

A visitor service volunteer coordinator and staff member who is known for her bubbly spirit. Judy is someone who underestimates her achievements, she makes everyone feel special, engaged and involved on her volunteer day, puts in the extra effort to attend all meetings and updates.

Winner – Dinah Beeston

What can you say about Dinah? This year Dinah broke the record for the number of nominations for a volunteer award, with seven from all across the Zoo! There are very few in the zoo who haven’t worked with her, but this year Dinah deserves this award not just for her ongoing volunteering with visitor services as a coordinator, or for her work in the foundation, or coordinating visitor service tracking or even her work with visitor experience! But for her amazing work in being the coordinator for dreamnight.  Without Dinah’s tireless efforts this magic event simply would not have happened.  Dinah is the epitome of a supportive and enthusiastic Taronga Volunteer.


A: Accept and take responsibility; This award recognises volunteers who go out of their way to accept and take responsibility which results in excellent customer service for our visitors and builds positive, strong relationships between our people.

Highly commended – Tarryn Williams

Tarryn is a trusted volunteer on the Carnivore Section. Responsible and dedicated, she is a go to volunteer for the section. She was even entrusted to deliver the Big Cat Talk to the public to rave reviews from visitors and keepers alike. Tarryn is also special to the team as she manages to juggle uni, TAFE, volunteering and work, maintain her positivity all towards her goal of contributing to conservation in the future; a goal that the team are sure she will achieve.

Winner – Ching-Yi Wu

Ching is a recent recruit to visitor services volunteering, and wow has she achieved!  Her enthusiasm and dedication saw her develop from new volunteer Australian Walkabout tour guide in record time.  Hugely respected by her fellow volunteers, she is constantly asking for ways to improve and just will not stop taking tours! Not only that, she now regularly delivers tours in English and Mandarin assisting us to showcase wildlife to a wider audience.  Ching is so good at promoting the Zoo, it starts before she arrives here – chatting to guests on the ferry she has managed to sell tours to them and arrives ready for her volunteer day already with guests in tow!


S: Show dignity and respect; This award pays tribute to volunteers who are committed to being honest, accountable, and transparent and who treat each person as they expect to be treated.

Highly commended – Bree Dribble

Bree is such an essential part of the wildlife hospital that the staff breathe a sigh of relief when she arrives.  Sensitive and accountable, she shows great respect to the animals at the hospital and her teammates.  Bree can be counted on to get the job done with dignity and respect.

Winner – Peter Walker

Peter is a Sunday volunteer and member of the education committee, however Peter takes on a much greater role.  He acts as confidant, coach, mentor, mediator and a friendly ear to all who come in contact with him.  In the last year he has supported new youth volunteers who have joined the adult visitor services tea, fostering a mutual respect and understanding between the groups.  He has also coached adult volunteers on new Zoo exhibits and tour guiding skills, delivered training courses to new visitor services volunteers and been a support to volunteer programs staff.  Peter treats everyone with the same dignified respect and is never happier than when reporting someone else’s success.  He is an example to strive for, for volunteers and staff alike.


I: Innovate and take initiative; This awards highlights volunteers who stand out from the crowd because of their willingness to use their initiative or embrace changes that will lead to the realisation of our vision. This was a very difficult category to judge as the nominations were to such an immensely high standard; as a result we have two highly commended in this category.

Highly commended – Tiffany Stofmeel

Tiffany is a carnivore volunteer known for giving 110% no matter how small the task.  When she finishes with allocated duties, she finds extra including giving the Meerkat exhibit a facelift without being asked and taking other volunteers and students under her wing.  In a division with regular changes, Tiffany embraces without skipping a beat.  Her positive attitude makes her an absolute pleasure to work with.

Highly commended – Sophia Johnson

The wildlife hospital staff had a hard time deciding which category to nominate Sophia for, knowing she deserves to be nominated for all five.  However, it was her innovation in developing more efficient ways to complete tasks and then training other staff and volunteers that see her receive this award.  Sophia sees the importance of all tasks, even the mundane ones, and is flexible for whatever is happening on section that day.

Winner – Jeanette McKay & Robyn Lovie

Jeanette and Robyn are both visitor services volunteers who are also members of the volunteer education committee. These two ladies have worked together to write and deliver not only the seven-week orientation training course for volunteers, but also the recent Gold Tour training course; working with multiple stakeholders in a cooperative way over countless hours.  Their sessions were detailed and interesting, but also prepared volunteers for dealing with the public and imparting zoo knowledge in a positive and efficient way. Their training sessions receive glowing feedback from participants and are effective in leaving volunteers more knowledgeable, skilled and empowered. An incredible achievement!


C: Clear and simple; this award celebrates those volunteers that are committed to finding effective, creative, clear and simple ways of carrying out their role.

Highly commended – Ellen Wilson

Ellen volunteers on the carnivore unit and can work without supervision, having taken the time to get to know all the tasks required on the section from enrichment to washing up and morning feeds.  Ellen is a reliable and trusted volunteer.  No fuss, just clear and simply and asset to her team.

Winner – Anne Jackson

Anne volunteers across environmental sustainability, community conservation, interpretation and visitor experience.  Juggling varied and sometimes random tasks including animal research, stock take of requests or creating a spreadsheet of all pictures and sound items in the records.  Anne defines clear and simple, no matter what the task; challenging, interesting, mundane or a combination of all three she takes it on and completes it well with no mess and no fuss.  She takes initiative and regularly works with little direction.  She is very passionate about the zoo and regularly offers effective and creative ideas and points of view on our projects. She is a valued member of our team.