Orlando network to clean alligator habitat at Florida zoo

October 12, 2012
By Christine Urbowicz

Students and alumni across the nation will unite this weekend to participate in service projects on National Wolfpack Service Day. Several alumni networks are participating in service events with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, local food banks and schools. The volunteers from the Orlando alumni network will be spending their day in the alligator habitat at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

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Mary Jevitt, '79, is one of the co-leaders for the Orlando alumni network

Mary Jevitt, ‘79, is one of the co-leaders for the Orlando network and came up with a different sort of service opportunity after collaborating with the business director at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

“We met at a leadership class and both discovered we were connected to NC State,” Jevitt says. “With her help, our network was able to come up with a unique service event that families could participate in together.”

Jevitt moved to Florida eleven years ago, and has been a member of the alumni network in Orlando for nearly nine years. Saturday’s project will be the first service event for the network.

“We really want to reach out to the greater Orlando alumni,” Jevitt says. “We hope that after this event we can start participating in more service events together.”

On Saturday morning, the two American alligators will be removed from the exhibit and volunteers will engage in light manual labor such as cleaning, digging, cutting and removing plants that are overgrown.

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The American alligator is native to the southeastern United States and typically lives in habitats like freshwater lakes, swamps and marshes. In the wild, the alligators live in dens in rivers and spend time sitting in the sun. Like all zoos, the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens has an exhibit that imitates the American alligators’ natural environment. Those conditions have contributed to the overgrowth.

“Everything grows so fast in Florida and I think the zoo has been having trouble keeping up with the maintenance of the exhibit,” Jevitt says. “With our help, we will clean the habitat and the alligators will be more visible to the zoo visitors.”

After the service project, the group will enjoy lunch at the zoo pavilion and spend the afternoon at the zoo. The volunteers will get lunch and free admission to the zoo.

“I think National Wolfpack Service Day is a great idea and wish they had something like this when I was an undergraduate,” Jevitt says. “There is no lack of agencies or non-profit organizations in the area that need our help and we are excited to help.”

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