Marissa Salvato has been a volunteer at the Sulphur Creek Nature Center for eight years and has donated 1,432 hours of her time. She is a dedicated volunteer that worked every Saturday morning prior to COVID, to help with a variety of chores in the wildlife hospital. Her primary duties involved caring for our resident mammals, including coyotes, foxes, and rabbits. During the baby bird season she offered a helping hand to feed and care for dozens of baby birds with feeding schedules that ranged from every 30 to 60 minutes, along with those that were almost eating on their own and only needed occasional feeding during the day. Marissa was instrumental in training new volunteers and was a key person in helping staff keep all the volunteers on track for the day. In addition to her work in the hospital, she assisted the education department with the training of animals and had been a junior camp counselor for the Wildlife Camp, of which she was eventually hired to help run. Marissa’s patience with animals is so extraordinary that she was invited to become part of the raptor team to work with Elvis, the Peregrine Falcon and Wilder, our Prairie Falcon, two very difficult birds to work with. Outside of her volunteering on Saturdays, Marissa has been wonderful support for the Flight to Freedom which is Sulphur Creek’s largest fundraising event and the Unhaunted House, the District’s most popular Halloween event. During the Unhaunted House, Marissa handled many duties, but she excelled at being a character to present animals in the Unhaunted House. Each year’s event is based on a different fairy tale theme, and a variety of characters are featured. Some of the most memorable characters she played, were Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, Wendy from Peter Pan, and Alice of Alice in Wonderland. She even used her amazing make-up skills to help other characters get prepared. Of all the special events that Sulphur Creek hosts, Marissa’s favorite is the Reptile Rally where snakes of all species and sizes are shared with the public as well as other reptiles and amphibians. She loved to help showcase the snakes, especially Chuck, the Burmese Python. Marissa is truly an asset to the nature program and to HARD. She is always calm and relaxed, takes her duties seriously and is extremely fun to work with. Staff has been grateful to be able to rely on Marissa for Saturday mornings and special events in knowing that she will be onboard to help get everything done and done well.