Volunteers provide an incredible service to the Minnesota Zoo. This group of more than 500 individuals gives their time and talents all in the name of connecting people, animals, and the natural world to save wildlife. For Jane Wippermann, her passion for volunteering goes back to 1985.

Jane has recently reached an incredible milestone – donating more than 10,000 hours of service to the Minnesota Zoo. We could not be more appreciative for her or her service.

Growing up on a farm, Jane has always had an affinity for animals and conservation. She’s brought that passion with her to the Zoo, serving as an Adult Interpretive volunteer every Tuesday.

Minnesota Zoo Volunteer Jane Wippermann has donated more than 10,000 hours of service since 1985.

“It is a fun, fun day,” says Jane. “I’m happy and smiling from the time I wake up until the end of the day. It just is wonderful here.”

When Jane first started volunteering, the Minnesota Zoo had only been around for seven years. Popular exhibits, such as Discovery Bay, the Wells Fargo Family Farm, and Russia’s Grizzly Coast, were still a decade or more away.

“As the Zoo has grown over the years, I just keep learning – every day – and it’s so fun to share all of this information with the visitors,” says Jane.

On a recent Tuesday morning, Jane talked to more than 100 guests in a two-hour period, sharing knowledge about the aquariums in Discovery Bay and some of the Zoo’s smallest aquatic residents. Through these short interactions, Jane is able to teach and instill a sense of wonder in children and adults.

“It’s spreading information with our guests, pointing things out to them, making them aware,” says Jane.

“I am inspired by her enthusiasm of continuing to learn and her excitement of sharing her stories to guests and other volunteers,” says Volunteer Coordinator Julie Lanz-Gonsoski. “Even after 10,000 hours she greets everyone with a smile.”

Over the course of her 10,000 hours of service, we can only guess how many thousands of people have been greeted by Jane’s smile and have been educated and inspired by her over the years.

A special thank you to Jane and to all the dedicated volunteers at the Minnesota Zoo. We could not continue to connect people, animals, and the natural world without you!