Utility Exploration volunteer earns honor for her service

Janet Zeitman helped revamp center’s educational curriculum
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Janet Zeitman smoothed out her clothes and walked toward the entrance to wait for the visitors.

“Here they come,” she said.

About 40 kids from Catheryn Gates Elementary School piled through the door of the Roseville Utility Exploration Center, prepared to learn all about energy efficiency, fossil fuels, conservation and the popular large garbage pile exhibit.

As a volunteer, Zeitman, 78, assists children in their educational journey through the center.

“I like wandering around with the kids, talking to them and sharing things with them,” she said.

Zeitman earned the city of Roseville’s third annual Sylvia Besana Community Volunteer Award, presented by Mayor Pauline Roccucci during the Dec. 7 city council meeting.

Besana was a longtime educator at Roseville High School and active member of the community before she passed away from cancer in 2008. A Roseville park is named in her honor along with the city’s annual holiday parade.

“This is a real fitting award to give to you,” Roccucci said. “We want to thank you for your work in the community and what you’ve done for the kids.”

Zeitman was nominated for the award in recognition for her contributions to the utility center.

“The first person we thought about was Janet. She’s always here,” said volunteer coordinator Randy Delise.

She began volunteering a year ago and typically works one day a week, assisting visitors at the front counter and accompanying classes on tours. She taught third and fifth grade in San Jose for 30 years and enjoys the continued interaction with kids.

This summer she helped staff revamp the center’s educational programs and redesign them for elementary-aged students. She even took work home with her.

“She told us from her perspective what teachers really want to see. She enjoyed it,” Delise said. “It seemed like a natural thought for her to be recognized. She’s adopted us as much as we’ve adopted her.”

This isn’t Zeitman’s first volunteering gig. She’s been involved with environmental groups since the 1960s. After moving to Sun City Roseville in 1996, she tutored at Home Start for about five years, and has also volunteered with Roseville Urban Forest Foundation.

Utility Exploration Center Director Bob Garrison said his center relies heavily on the help of volunteers. They have nearly 80 on the list, and about 10 regular volunteers rotate through on a weekly basis.

“We couldn’t run the center without the help of our volunteers,” Garrison said. “They provide the manpower to accommodate the thousands of kids we get here and they’re also our ambassadors within the community.”

Sena Christian can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.