World Beard Day is Sept. 7 in 2019 and, this year at Fossil Rim, it is difficult to beat the wave of whiskers possessed by Dan Broyles.
Broyles is in his 15th year as a volunteer for Fossil Rim. World Beard Day is all about promoting and elevating the global status of the beard, which is something Broyles said he has been doing since 1971.
“I’ve been volunteering with the vet staff for 14 of those 15 years,” Broyles said. “An email went out that said they needed someone who could dedicate one day a week all year long to the vet staff. It has been Wednesday for 15 years; I’ve never taught a class on Wednesday. I (double my classes) on Tuesday so I can be here on Wednesday.”
An instructor on non-Wednesdays, Broyles teaches electrical courses in the building technology department at Tarrant County College South Campus in Fort Worth.
“I helped design the new South Center of Excellence for Energy Technology that we’ve now had for four years,” he said.
He has some awesome memories from the past decade-and-a-half at Fossil Rim.
“The procedures involving the rhinos and giraffes are probably the most interesting, but the black-footed cats – all of these animals are pretty cool,” he said. “I remember when we had a baby rhino (at the vet clinic). I remember when (Dr.) Holly (Haefele) told me to open a door one day, and there was a baby zebra behind it. Feeding a baby giraffe was also memorable.”
Broyles is also known around Fossil Rim as “Santa Dan”. He is an annual St. Nick presence at the wildlife facility in December for Dream Day, as well as Somervell County Day.
“Dream Day is my favorite event each year,” Broyles said. “Somervell County Day is second for me. I’m always here each Spring Break, directing traffic in the park. And I’ll always do whatever needs to be done for the animal health department.”
Broyles is actually a member of multiple Santa-based organizations, including Lone Star Santas and the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas. Lone Star Santas has a Convoy of Toys program that provides disaster relief for children as first responders after tornadoes and other natural disasters.
“Dan is a dedicated volunteer and rarely misses his Wednesday mornings with us,” said Haefele, director of animal health. “It’s cool to think he has been donating his time with our department almost as long as I have been here. He is always game to do whatever task is at hand: photographer, (dart) gun cleaner, animal picker-upper, sweeping, mopping, or doing laundry. We appreciate it!”
Dr. Julie Swenson is the associate veterinarian at Fossil Rim.
“You can’t ask for a better volunteer than Dan,” Swenson said. “He helps in a myriad of ways and is always open-minded about how to make things smoother for us. Add in an amazing sense of humor plus a huge heart and you have an absolutely excellent volunteer!”
-Tye Chandler, Marketing Associate