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Volunteering at Aviary stokes passions for O'Hara resident

Tawnya Panizzi
| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, 1:48 p.m.
O’Hara resident Sarah Jones in the Penguin Point habitat, home to the National Aviary’s colony of endangered African Penguins.
National Aviary
O’Hara resident Sarah Jones in the Penguin Point habitat, home to the National Aviary’s colony of endangered African Penguins.

A retired teacher from O’Hara has found a way to continue her love of educating children.

Sarah Jones, retired after 24 years from Pittsburgh’s Wilkinsburg School District, volunteers her time as a docent and conservation educator at the National Aviary on the North Side.

“I had the most wonderful experiences working in the Wilkinsburg School District, where I had the unique opportunity to influence the lives of my students,” Jones said.

“A second passion for me has always been watching the birds that come to my backyard feeders, so it’s no surprise that in my retirement I found a perfect home at the National Aviary.”

A volunteer since 2014, Jones has dedicated more than 1,750 hours to the facility at 700 Arch Street. She teaches classes, shares insight and background on birds and leads tours.

“It’s rewarding to facilitate outreach programs that encourage the next generation to have a love of birds and conservation,” Jones said.

“I love to share with students and visitors the good news of National Aviary conservation programs that are having an impact for good around the world.”

Jones graduated from the University of Mt. Union in Alliance, Ohio and sought a teaching job because of her love for children. She began her career as a reading specialist and later taught first grade.

The National Aviary is the country’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated exclusively to birds. Its collection includes 500 birds representing more than 150 species from around the world, many of them threatened or endangered. The walk-through exhibits create an up-close interaction between visitors and free-flying birds, including chances to hand-feed and to meet species rarely found in zoos.

Volunteers are needed to work admissions, tours, events, commissary and with early morning food preparation for the birds.

To apply, visit aviary.org/volunteer-opportunities.

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, tpanizzi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.

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