Cedar Cove Volunteers


Bettie "BJ" Auch

Board of Directors, Treasurer, Director of Operations

BJ lives in Kansas City. She graduated from K-State with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Accounting, and works at Beauty Brands as the Controller.

Hours donated weekly: 18-20 hours, primarily on the weekends and Wednesday evenings to take care of the animals. 

How I got started: I first visited Cedar Cove in August 2001.The day I heard about it, I made plans to visit. My heart was touched when I walked into the quaint little courtyard and saw seven breathtakingly beautiful tigers and three cougars. I was given a tour by Cedar Cove Founder William Pottorff and Shelly Tooley, and a passion that was buried deep within me began to come alive. I could see Billy and Shelly could more help, and I felt as if I were being given the opportunity of a lifetime.

I worked under the direction and leadership of William and Shelly for many years, learning how to take care of these animals and how to stay safe. I also have attended two Big Cat Husbandry classes offered by the Feline Conservation Federation. I now have 10 years of experience, and a library of reference books. I also keep up to date on the current conservation efforts through many different organizations.

Favorite(s): I am head over heels in love with Raja! He picked me when he was just a two-month-old cub. Something scared him and he ran to me and found a “safe haven,” and he seems to be forever grateful and trustful of me.

Goal: I am passionate about educating people, especially children, on the situation of these animals in the wild. I want to make sure that each and every visitor at Cedar Cove leaves with a little more knowledge about these animals and about their place in the world.

Cammy Colton 
Board Of Directors, Secretary, Director of Volunteer Training

Cammy comes from Overland Park, Kansas, has been a Marketing Analyst and Buyer at Rockhurst University Continuing Education Center, Inc., for more than 20 years.

Hours donated weekly: 15 to 20

How I got started: On my first visit to Cedar Cove, I remember walking through the doors leading to the sanctuary, and I was instantly transported to a different world. A world that made my daily trials and tribulations seem insignificant. The first animals I saw were the tigers. I was amazed at their beauty, grace, and size! As I moved through the park, I became captivated by every animal and every sound. I knew this was a world I wanted to be a part of. I started volunteering the following Saturday and have been there for three years.

Favorite(s): The animal I am most attached to is Sierra, a female Siberian tiger. She was the first tiger to trust me and allow me into her world. She has taught me patience, perseverance, and determination. Sometimes when I’m standing on the outside of her enclosure saying her name and making a chuffing sound (friendly greeting), she will approach me and rub her head and body along her enclosure bars–wanting me to scratch her back and neck. She has captured my heart!

Goal: The animals trust in us, depending on us to be there, regardless of weather conditions. They are the ambassadors of the park and for exotic felines in the wild. We have the privilege to tell their story and educate the public about their plight in the wild. I educate myself about the animals and species from a wide variety of sources and media. I reading books, magazines, and articles. Watching videos and programming on cable (e.g., Animal Planet, Discovery, National Geographic/Wild, History). I also do a lot of research on the Internet and subscribe to newsletters from wildlife organizations, conservation organizations, endangered species programs, etc.

George Criswell, Board Of Directors, Voting Member


Sara Harvey 

From Wildwood, MO is attending college at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg working on a major in Wildlife and Natural Resource Conservation. Also has a part time job at The Salty Iguana in Independence when not in class or at Cedar Cove.

Hours donated weekly: 7-11 hours a week

How I got started: I heard of Cedar Cove from the Wildlife Society club at my school. I started volunteering in April 2011 hoping to learn more about these amazing felines and what they were really like. I had few chances where people would give me a chance to learn about animals that interested me, but the Cedar Cove staff welcomed me with open arms, and I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful park.

Favorite(s): Willow was my first "baby" I was able to form a bond with at the park since she was so young when she arrived. I really love our black leopard Pandora as well and Ariel is my favorite tiger.

Goal: I hope to learn as much as I can about wildcats and the other animals we house here at Cedar Cove. I want to be able to understand all their mannerisms and habits so I can apply that to whatever job I get in the future. I look forward to helping the park grow in any way I can. If I can help someone learn something new on my tours and they remember it and pass it on to others I feel successful.

 Della Jacot  
 Board Of Directors, Vice President, Director of Animal Care and  Enrichment

Della lives in Spring Hill, Kansas and is a U.S. Army veteran with a Master of Business Administration degree. Della works in the utilities industry at Landis+Gyr as a Business Analyst.

How I got started: Upon arriving in Kansas June of 2006 my husband showed me a brochure from Cedar Cove. He explained that we could visit the park that Saturday. Since the age of five I have dreamed of working in a place like Cedar Cove.  When I walked into the court yard and saw the big beautiful tigers looking back at me, I knew I found my final home, but nothing could prepare me for my heart’s reaction to looking Voodoo (the spotted leopard) in the eyes. Shelly Tooley was our tour guide. I immediately asked her if I could volunteer. From that moment on I have been bound to the animals at Cedar Cove.  I am honored to have been trained by Shelly Tooley, BJ Auch, and William Pottorff. This group of individuals taught me more than I could have imagined about caring for big cats. I owe them all a debt of gratitude for this great opportunity.

Favorite(s): Although I love all the animals very much, Voodoo owns a special part of my heart.

Goals: I began rescuing animals at a very early age. Any domestic cat or dog I found on the streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania either became my pet or was given a home with someone I found who would take them in. Throughout my time in the military I was given the opportunity to travel the world where I would locate a shelter on my time off and volunteer while also providing money, food, and blanket donations. I love caring for animals so much that I had guinea pigs and birds in the barracks while stationed in Heidelberg, Germany. In order to learn as much as I can about exotic cats in general I’ve built a library of information gathered from several reputable web sites and cannot pass up a good book about big cats.  I am a member of the Zoological Association of America and Feline Conservation Federation. I have taken the FCF exotic cat husbandry course.

Cedar Cove is a great place because we seek any and every opportunity to make life for these animals as comfortable and enriched as possible. No matter how big or small, each animal gets individual attention. We never stop trying to find ways to improve their environment. We also educate our visitors with known scientific facts and our own experiences with these majestic creatures.


Steve Klein, Board of Directors, President, Director of Facilities

Steve lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and has a BA in Journalism from the University of Kansas. He is also the Owner and President of his own design company: Steve Klein Design, Inc.

Hours donated weekly: 30-40 hours every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and as needed.

How I got started: I first heard of a ‘tiger park’ near Kansas City in 2001 from a good friend, and my first visit with William, Shelly, and the animals captivated and called me to join my efforts to the care and cause of these amazing creatures.

Having taken up a few construction projects and then working under the guidance and instruction of William and Shelly, I became more attached not just to the animals, but also the park itself and what it stood for. The sense of fulfillment I received from caring for these beings made me decide to focus my creative and engineering energies on building the park into the world-class facility we all envision.

Favorite(s): I love each of these animals deeply and try to give them as much individual attention as my time will allow, but that being said...the lions Tonka and Shanta are a pair that I’ve been fortunate enough to bond with on a level I’d never allowed with the others and the absolute sense of pride (pun intended) I feel from their acceptance and affection is difficult to explain. Having a 200-pound lioness draped over you and grooming your head or hearing Tonka call out at the sound of my car arriving and running up to greet me is some of the best therapy for any kind of stress.

Goal: Cedar Cove represents a long string of goals to me and I delight in looking back to see just how many we HAVE accomplished. However, my visions are grand and there is much more work ahead. Primarily, I want to improve the habitats and modernize facilities at the park to provide the best possible enclosures for the animals while minimizing the work required for chores, maintenance and repairs.

In addition, I have a strong drive to expand our educational outreach, making us a valuable conservation and educational resource for schools, universities, and organizations throughout the region, providing information and experiences unique to our conservatory.

Finally, I envision Cedar Cove reaching out to the global community, helping to spearhead conservation efforts on multiple fronts, including helping to establish a genetic repository of animal records to help clarify and classify the animals remaining in the wild and in captivity to improve breeding efforts and maintain pure species gene pools in the hopes of future habitat re-population.

  Jim Sanderson

Jim lives in Gardner, KS, specializes in the field of Aerospace Engineering & Flight Test Electronics. In addition to taking courses at JCCC. he has received much of his education through training within the work environment.

Hours donated weekly: From 8 to 16 hours a week, depending on the weekend activities.

How I got started: I’ve come to Cedar Cove Park off and on over the past few years, but starting in July of this year I was finally able to start volunteering. I mean, where else in this area can you see and really learn about these endangered animals?

Favorite(s): I love all cats, and certainly the big cats at the Park, but as Mohan was the first to "chuff" at me, he gets the #1 spot.

Goal: I’m trying to help make Cedar Cove a better habitat for the animals here and a place where visitors can learn about them.