Christy V. Conk

Daily Point of Light # 3815 Sep 17, 2008

Christy is a Cast Member in Animal Program at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Through her role at Disney, Christy takes care of animals, however, when she volunteers she is working to strengthen and help children with disabilities through the HeRD (Horses for Riders with Disabilities) organization.

Christy not only cares for the facility’s horses, but she is heavily involved with instructing students with various disabilities to improve their verbal skills, motor function, thought processing as well as many other life skills. It takes creativity, innovation and ingenuity to stimulate people to want to learn and it is even more of a challenge for people with disabilities.

Christy sets aside Thursdays to work with HeRD where she puts her psychology degree to use in developing lesson plans for nearly 60 students to help develop their skills. Because of Christy’s involvement, twelve of these students went to the Florida State Special Olympics—competing on horseback.

In addition to her work with HeRD, Christy serves as a board member of Friends of Lake Louisa, a citizen-run organization supporting Lake Louisa State Park. Christy not only serves on the board but also teaches local students how to identify and protect local butterflies.

Christy helps to maintain the parks Butterfly Garden and has even cleaned a stretch of highway outside the park. She has organized a children’s conservation activity for the park’s annual “field day.”

Through all of her volunteer efforts, Christy is inspiring children, either to become better advocates for the environment or to develop needed skills, confidence and self-esteem.

Because of Christy’s volunteer service listed above, she was selected as Walt Disney World’s 2008 Disney VoluntEAR of the Year. She alone received five separate nominations from her peers in Animal Programs and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.