Meet Harold & Laura Stover: Zoo Volunteers

At Oral Health America (the non-profit behind, we believe that oral health is essential to keeping a healthy body, especially for older adults. Through our work, we love meeting Sensational Seniors who are doing amazing things every day. This month’s Sensational Seniors are Harold and Laura Stover, who have been supporting Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo for over 20 years.

What do you love the most about your life? 
Laura: I worked for the Brookfield Zoo for over 20 years in memberships and at the gift shop, and started volunteering in 2008 as a tour guide. In fact, I loved working at the zoo so much that I retired on a Friday and started volunteering the following Tuesday. I love the animals more than the people, but love interacting with the different types of people that work and visit the zoo.

Harold: I enjoy special event work at the zoo because of all the newcomers I am able to meet and talk to. I also love the interaction between people and the zoo, as it is very unique. I am a guest guide that loves to work and help others enjoy the zoo. I also take on some office tasks for the zoo, and was an accountant before retiring to become a volunteer.

Both: We are very fortunate that our seven grandchildren live very close to us in the Chicagoland area and we see them all the time.

What drives you to do what you do? 
Laura: It’s good exercise being a tour guide! I like seeing the animals. My favorite is the meercat. I remember once that the snow was so high that you couldn’t walk, and I was one of three that stayed to take care of the animals – it was great! I enjoy visiting with others and volunteering at church.
Harold: The fact that I am so close to the zoo. If they needed a tour guide or volunteer for the day, I can put on his uniform and be there to fill in.

What was one of your most defining moments in life?
Getting married. We’ve been married for 51 years and celebrated our anniversary at the Share the Care evening at the zoo.

What are you the most proud of?
Laura: The zoo – it is so vital and one of the best zoos in the world. It once was the only zoo that could take DNA and tell you if animals were related.

Harold: Giving back to the community. A lot of people my age aren’t volunteering and that’s how I give back. Volunteering at the church is very important to me.

Do you have any advice for seniors looking to stay active?
Both: We recommend volunteering. There are all kinds of volunteering you can do to stay active: hospital, zoo, library, etc. It gives you a schedule to your week and allows you to stay busy. For us, volunteering at the zoo keeps us busy. It’s different every day. We love the diverse group that goes to the zoo and enjoy the people interaction while being a tour guide.