Volunteer Spotlight: Tammy and Emily Sarzalejo

12 April 2022
Tammy Sarzalejo Tammy Sarzalejo

How long have you been volunteering with HWI?

We became docents in October of 2021.

How did you get started volunteering with HWI?

I saw a post on Facebook by Education and Outreach Director Melissa Halvorsen, who is a former colleague from Living Planet Aquarium, about HWI needing docents. My daughter Emily and I knew nothing about HWI at the time, but we knew that working with Melissa again would be an amazing experience. We decided to apply and I am so glad we did. It has been such a rewarding experience to stand with an awesome bird on my glove while I educate people of all ages about the fascinating characteristics of raptors.

What is your “spark bird?”

Tammy: Owls, I have always loved them. The Owl Forest at Tracy Aviary has always been my favorite exhibit.

Emily: ​​My spark bird is the ostrich. They were the first bird I had the opportunity to work with and I still have a soft spot for them.

2DD7B2B8 D88C 4FD9 8C4C CA2332AB76A3 Emily SarzalejoWhat do you do outside of volunteering for HWI?

Tammy: I volunteer at the Hogle Zoo as a Zoo Aide in the Africa Savanna. I also help with special events and assist with giraffe, elephant, and rhino feeds. In my spare time, I love to go for walks on the trail near my house where I can spot numerous varieties of birds including robins, finches, pigeons, crows, and even a Red-tailed Hawk on occasion. I also love to travel and go hiking.

Emily: In my free time I volunteer at Tracy Aviary. I help with diets, cleaning, and enrichment of the eagles, seriemas, lorikeets, and vultures. I also volunteer alongside my mother at Hogle Zoo. When I’m not volunteering, I love to take pictures of wildlife, draw, and hang out with my friends.

What is your favorite moment from volunteering?

Tammy: My favorite moment would have to be when we were helping at the West Valley Library while they were doing COVID testing and vaccines. I think every single staff member came over to meet Artemis the Western Screech-owl and Jack the Merlin and, of course, take pictures. It was such a good feeling to see the smiles and excitement on the faces of this group of people who have been through so much stress with COVID.

Emily: I cannot choose a favorite memory working with HWI. I just love to be in front of a group of people with a bird on my glove educating them and encouraging them to have a passion for birds.

Why should people care about conserving raptors?

Tammy: People should care about conserving raptors because they are apex predators and as such their health and well-being are indicative of the health and well-being of our entire ecosystem. We need to remember we share this planet with all the animals that inhabit it and we can have either a positive impact or a devastating impact depending on our actions.

Emily: As an apex predators, raptors are important for controlling prey populations. Without them, the whole ecosystem would collapse.