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National Charity League Ticktocker Day Benefits the Santa Barbara Zoo

A third of the volunteers made toys for the animals. Click to view larger
A third of the volunteers made toys for the animals. (Lori Baur / NCL photo)

Nearly 100 girls between the ages of 12-18 spent Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, at the Santa Barbara Zoo, but they were not there to see the animals.   

The young ladies were volunteering their time to help the zoo by participating in a variety of projects organized by the Santa Barbara chapter of the National Charity League (NCL), a mother-daughter organization that fosters community service, leadership development and cultural enrichment.

“The purpose of Ticktocker Day is to provide an opportunity for all the girls in the Santa Barbara chapter to come together for some bonding and philanthropy, while having a great time,” said Lori Baur, NCL patroness and organizer of this year’s event.    

In keeping with the NCL’s mission, there was also an educational component, which came in the form of two guest speakers.

This year’s presenters were animal experts and employees of the Santa Barbara Zoo: Nadya Seal, California condor nest technician, and Carol Hunsperger, curator of birds. Both women spoke to the girls about their backgrounds and careers.  

Following the presentations, the girls divided into three groups to begin a variety of animal enrichment and beautification activities to benefit the zoo.

“This year’s Ticktocker Day was different in that we selected just one local nonprofit to service,” explained Baur, who worked alongside Michelle Kelly, fellow NCL member and VP ticktockers-elect, to organize the day of giving.  

In the past, the organization offered projects that benefited many of their 18 adopted philanthropies.  

“This year we wanted to develop a more impactful and memorable event, with significant meaning that wasn’t typically available to our Ticktockers on our regular volunteer calendar,” said Baur.

Ninth graders helped remove fallen palm fronds and tree stumps. Click to view larger
Ninth graders helped remove fallen palm fronds and tree stumps. (Lori Baur / NCL photo)

“Here at the Santa Barbara Zoo, it’s our mission to connect people to animals. I think there is something extra special when we connect young people to our mission because they are our future leaders,” said Shomari McLemore, volunteer programs manager.   

The girls’ connection to the zoo, as well as to each other, was evident in the many tasks they performed.

The ninth grade NCL class bonded over branches. They spent the day clearing tree stumps and 30-foot palm fronds from a section around the zoo’s perimeter to help prevent predators from creating a habitat and threatening the animals.    

“Clearing the brush and palms makes room for the native species and animals desire their natural habitat,” explained Zoo Horticulturist James Whitesell.  

Others assembled shelving units to provide much needed storage for the zoo’s retail department, while a third group of girls created papier-mâché toys for the animals.  

“Our hope is that this event becomes one of the many experiences that these young ladies participate in that reinforces the importance of giving back to the community,” added McLemore.   

Over the past five years, the NCL has collectively volunteered over 41,000 hours in the local community, a testament to the fact that these teenagers value the importance of community service.  

The charities that the National Charity League supports comprise American Cancer Society, B.U.N.S. (Bunnies Urgently Needing Shelter), CADA (Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse), CALM  (Child Abuse Listening Mediation), The Children’s Creative Project (I Madonnari Chalk Festival), Cottage Hospital, The Dream Foundation, Direct Relief, Explore Ecology, HEARTS Adaptive Riding Center, The Santa Barbara Museum of Art & Ridley Tree Art Education Center, The Museum of Natural History & Sea Center, Safety Town (Soroptimist International), Special Olympics, Storyteller Children’s Center, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, Unity Shoppe and the Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens.

— Ann Pieramici represents National Charity League.

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