Survivor Wiki

Wanda Gehret Shirk is a contestant from Survivor: Palau.

She is remembered for singing Survivor-themed tunes numerous times at the beginning of the game. She was one of the first people (along with Jonathan Libby) to be eliminated from the game via Schoolyard Pick, singing her own song "Survivor" as she left the island with Libby.


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Born in Belleville, Pennsylvania, Wanda Shirk grew up in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Ephrata High School in 1967. In 1971, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible and speech communication from Wheaton College in Illinois. She then went on to receive her master's degree in education from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.

Shirk has been teaching junior and senior high school English for 28 years. From 1971 to 1977, she taught at Warwick High School in Lititz, Pennsylvania. From 1983 until the present, she has taught at Northern Potter High School in Ulysses, Pennsylvania. In addition to classroom teaching, she has supervised the school's yearbook and newspaper staffs, directed school plays, acted as an advisor to the National Honor Society and sophomore, junior and senior classes and served as timer and scorekeeper for the school's volleyball and basketball games.

Parenting has been a large part of Shirk's life over the last 25 years. In addition to her own children, Dawn and Shawn, she and her husband of 26 years (they divorced in 2000) became foster parents to 25 children and to exchange students from Norway, Germany and the Ukraine.

These days, Shirk devotes much of her time to community service. She is a trustee of the Ulysses Library, President of the Potter County Foster Parents Association, Chairman of the Potter County Planning Commission and secretary/fund-raising Chairman for the Tri-Town Fire Company Auxiliary. She is certified as a Community Emergency Response Team member and is certified in some Red Cross courses (and a regular Red Cross blood donor as well).

Shirk enjoys backpacking and hiking. In 2000, she solo backpacked the 85 mile Susquehannock Trail in Potter County, Pennsylvania. She is an active member of the Keystone Trails Association and two local hiking clubs.

A recent newlywed, Shirk resides in Ulysses, Pennsylvania, with her husband, George. Her birth date is August 24, 1949.[1]


The contestants for Palau started the game by rowing to the island. The first of each gender would receive immunity (which Jolanda Jones ended up getting for the women). There was no one on the beach when they arrived, so they went ahead to built a shelter. The next day, Jeff Probst announced that the tribes were chosen in a Schoolyard Pick, with the last two castaways be eliminated immediately. Wanda, along with Jonathan Libby, were the last two and, therefore, eliminated. And since the last woman was picked after the last man, Wanda became the second person eliminated from Survivor: Palau. As the boat was leaving, she sung her last song to her fellow players.

Voting History

Because she was eliminated before the first Tribal Council, Wanda did not have a voting history.

Wanda's Voting History
Episode Wanda's
Voted Against
1 Not Picked
Eliminated, Day 2


  • On January 9, 2010, Wanda attended Survivor's 10-year anniversary party.


  • Wanda was the oldest female contestant in Survivor: Palau.
  • Wanda and Jonathan Libby are the only contestants to never be assigned to a tribe.
  • Wanda and Jonathan are the only two contestants to be eliminated on Day 2.
  • As Jonathan was left unpicked before her, Wanda is the first person to finish in 19th place. The first voted out player to come in 19th place was Billy Garcia.
  • Wanda and Jonathan became the first two castaways to never visit Tribal Council. They were followed by Gary StriteskyKourtney Moon, Dana Lambert. and Pat Cusack.
    • Wanda, Jonathan, Kourtney, and Pat are the only contestants to be eliminated from the game in the first episode by means other than a vote.
  • Wanda is the first female castaway to not have her name written down on parchment without getting evacuated or Quit the competition.
  • Wanda is included as a member of Koror in the opening credits, since she would have been the tribe's last choice.
  • At the Palau Live Reunion Show, Wanda sang her own original Survivor song, to the tune of Oh, Susanna.
  • In homage to Wanda, a segment in "The Wiggle Room" of Rob Has a Podcast was named after her, "The Wand-off", where listeners make and submit parody songs about the recently concluded Survivor episode.


Survivor: Palau Castaways
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 Bobby Jon
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No tribe
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No tribe
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