Standing out From the Crowd

Jennifer May

Jennifer May at the Zoo.

Not many twentysomethings spend much of their time volunteering.  But 20-something Jennifer May rarely follows a crowd. She knits. She sews. She prefers old movies to reality TV. And in April 2005, May joined Zoo Pride, the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s volunteer auxiliary. May brings animal savvy and high-tech know-how to her work with Zoo Pride. For example, she’s often seen around the Zoo with a camera, making educational animal mini-movies. “One day I filmed a king cobra drinking water,” she says. May put the video, called “Do Snakes Drink Water?” on the video-sharing Web site “It’s one of the things people wonder when they’re at the Zoo,” she explains. 

Talking with zoogoers about animals is one of May’s favorite activities in Zoo Pride. She takes questions even when decked out as a “Star Wars” princess at the Zoo’s Halloween events. If you’re in costume, kids don’t expect you to answer animal questions, she says.  “Then—surprise!--I can answer your questions about snakes or bats.” In 2007, May even became a docent. Docents are Zoo Pride members who have advanced knowledge and training about animals. To be a docent, you must have been in Zoo Pride for at least a year, volunteered for at least 50 hours that year, taken special classes and passed an exam. May’s bachelor’s degree in biology gave her an advantage when test time rolled around.  “Most of the information about species or animal characteristics is already hardwired into my brain,” she says.

Although May is younger than many Zoo Priders, her interests and fondness for classic rock bands such as the Beatles bridge the age gap. “I usually relate to older people better than people my own age,” she says. “Volunteering is such a big part of my life. I’d rather be here than out partying.” 

Meet other volunteers here.