Asheboro, NC - An animal records specialist at the North Carolina Zoo, Karen Fields Jarvis, was presented the 2012 Governor's Award for Excellence at a ceremony today in Raleigh.

Jarvis, who has worked at the zoo for more than 20 years, received the award in the category of "public service" for her outstanding volunteer work in the community, particularly as a "wish granter" with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The "public service" award is presented annually by the governor to individuals who made "outstanding contributions by participating in or implementing community and public service projects."

Jarvis began her volunteer work with the Victory Junction Gang Camp, assisting with the care of the camp's horses. She later broadened her volunteer duties, after coming to the zoo, when she was contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which eventually led to her present participation in the foundation.

The Governor's Awards for Excellence program was created in 1982 by Gov. Jim Hunt to honor state employees for outstanding achievement. The awards are the highest honor a state employee may receive for dedicated service to the state and the citizens of North Carolina.

The 2012 awards were given in four other categories in addition to Jarvis' "public service" award. They included "outstanding state government service," "safety & heroism," "human relations" and "innovations." Each year, state agencies and universities nominate their most outstanding employees for awards in each of those categories.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor.