Volunteer of the Month

Mary Ann Prag

As a former occupational therapist, Mary Ann Prag knows a thing or two about working with people. After retiring in 1999, she thought of volunteering at the L.A. County Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum of L.A. County but landed at the Zoo instead. Since graduating with the docent class of 2000, she has led school group tours, helped with Special Needs Outreach, and chaired a committee for the 2012 Association of Zoo and Aquarium Docents conference.

Mary Ann Prag doing special needs outreach. Mary Ann handing out stickers at Shane's Inspiration.
Docent Mary Ann Prag doing special needs outreach. Mary Ann handing out stickers at Shane's Inspiration.

Mary Ann enjoys learning opportunities and interacting with people; touring is her favorite docent duty, and her file is full of accolades from the people she has toured over the past 14 years. "Seeing the excitement on visitors faces and hearing them eagerly tell you about previous trips is the best. They're like sponges especially the little ones. If we inspire early on, they'll bring their families."

As a special needs outreach docent, Mary Ann visits those who are not able to visit the Zoo. Residents of facilities such as special needs schools and retirement communities benefit from the personal contact with animals and can have profound effects. During one retirement home visit, a resident perked up when presented with a chicken, explaining that she had kept chickens when she was younger. A staffer later approached Mary Ann, tearfully sharing that the woman hadn't spoken in months.

Mary Ann has had a profound effect on the docent program, GLAZA , and the Zoo. Her warm, welcoming nature and desire to help when and wherever needed, have earned her the President's Silver Star in 2004, which is awarded to docents who've gone above and beyond. Mary Ann continues to go above and beyond to help make the program a strong program. It's just one of the many reasons why we love her.

Volunteer Opportunities

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