What's the best thing about volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium?

Volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium

As part of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, April 6–12, we’re sharing thoughts from some of the volunteers who participated in a recent internal survey about their volunteer experience. Below, find some of our favorite responses to the question, “What’s your favorite thing about volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium?”

“When I can turn someone’s fear of the unknown marine environment into a fun learning experience. And they leave with a more positive outlook towards marine ecosystems which may increase their interest in conserving them.”

“Everything! My volunteer day is my favorite day of the week. The people are friendly and knowledgeable. I get to help put smiles on people’s faces when I tell them a neat fact. Most importantly: it’s just fun.”

“At the Aquarium every shift gives me a chance to teach a bit. It’s wonderful to see children come alive, become excited, and ask better and better questions…until they stump me and I have to find a supervisor or a biologist. Of course feeding the octopus is one of the high points of my month. How many people get to feed an octopus?”

“Seeing the smile of a small child who has just high-fived me through a foot of Plexiglas in the Window on Washington Waters exhibit. My second favorite thing is interacting with the exceptional dive staff, biologists and interpreters. They rock.”

“I really love to see how our guests make personal connections between what they see and learn at the Aquarium and their own experiences—I’ve had great conversations that have started with a guest asking a question related to something they had seen on a beach walk, or while snorkeling in Hawaii, or from a TV show or movie. When one of our exhibits jogs that memory, it’s a great opportunity to talk about conservation, or water quality, or animal protection in a way that’s really personal to them. And it can be really enjoyable to talk with interesting people from all over the place.”

“Assignments are meaningful and relevant. There are many types of assignments available to choose from. We are given wide latitude in using our own style and creativity in interacting and interpreting to our visitors. There is ongoing education and training to keep us engaged, challenged, always learning and to keep focused on our mission and consistent with good Aquarium practices. It is exciting to be part of a community of many knowledgeable, interested and enthusiastic volunteers and staff. There is energy there for participating in and promoting the conservation to protect and renew our incredibly beautiful and diverse environment in the Pacific Northwest, and I am proud to be part of it.”

“My favorite thing about volunteering is getting to share information about the wealth of truly amazing animals we have here in the Puget Sound. There is nothing better than turning someone on—child or adult—to the beautiful world under the water right beneath our feet!”

“I love the animals, but I also like sharing what I know with visitors when they have questions. What I hadn’t counted on was how much I like being outdoors. This has become so important to me. I work in an office the rest of the week so being outside with the otters and the seals, even if it is just cleaning the windows, is a great benefit. Being able to stop what I’m doing for a moment and look out at the Sound on a sunny day is priceless.”

“When a guest goes, ‘Wait, you mean *it’s alive!* that’s not a plant?!’ and I can say, ‘Plants are also alive. But yes, the anemone is an animal,” and then I get to demonstrate how they move through some interpretive dance. I love that moment where you watch their mind get blown. I love it.”

“My favorite thing about volunteering is helping cultivate an appreciation for the amazing life in our oceans.  Seeing a child discover the animals in the touch tanks for the first time hasn’t gotten old after five years, and I don’t think it ever will!  Having the kind of impactful conversations with visitors that follow those exchanges makes me feel like I’m working toward a future where the world’s oceans are more valued, and where their health is taken into account. That means a lot to me.”

“I love to learn something new, and every day I go to the Aquarium, whether I am volunteering or just visiting, I learn something I’ve never learned before.”

Thank you again to our wonderful team of volunteers. Check back tomorrow to read about the impacts of volunteering at the Aquarium. Interested in becoming a Seattle Aquarium volunteer yourself? Visit our website for details.

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Why volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium?

Volunteers at the Seattle Aquarium

As part of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, April 6–12, we’re sharing thoughts from some of the volunteers who participated in a recent internal survey about their volunteer experience. Below, find some of our favorite responses to the question, “Why did you decide to volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium?”

“Throughout my life I have believed in giving back through volunteering. When I moved to Seattle I was caught up in my career. After a decade of that craziness, I considered many volunteer options. I chose the Aquarium because the opportunities were varied, different, hands-on with staff, involved scientific areas that fascinated me and gave me a chance to learn while giving back to the community.”

”I spent my early childhood in the Puget Sound region and it had a big impact on me, fostering an early love for the outdoors and the aquatic. When I moved back to the region as an adult I wanted to help others learn about and explore our marine environments and I felt the Aquarium was the best place to do that.”

“I am extremely concerned about the fate of our oceans and our planet. Helping to educate the public about what is happening to the life in our oceans is the most important thing for me. I find that sharing the concern for the health of the oceans and the planet is extremely satisfying.”

“I am a photographer. I love taking photos at low tide and wildlife photos. Volunteering helped me learn more about what I was seeing on the beach and helped me learn to articulate my concerns about the degradation of our environment. I love animals of all kinds and find the ocean to be an ever-inspiring source of awe. I would like to work in wildlife rehab one day and think this is a great way to prepare for that.”

“I love marine life and I love educating people. Being able to share what I know with the people who don’t know about it is one of the best uses of my knowledge I can see. I also knew that I wanted to work in a place like the Seattle Aquarium and that this experience would be valuable for my career goals.”

“I started volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium because I wanted to do something that used my degree in marine biology. So this is an activity that helps me tap into that skill and knowledge base in a way that I can share it with others, even if my everyday job does not allow for that.  Additionally, I have a strong sense of volunteerism and I’m glad that I can volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium, where the organizational mission is at the core of my own personal ethos.”

Thank you again to our wonderful team of volunteers. Check back tomorrow to read what our volunteers love most about volunteering at the Aquarium! Interested in becoming a Seattle Aquarium volunteer yourself? Visit our website for details.

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Celebrating Seattle Aquarium volunteers during National Volunteer Appreciation Week

Seattle Aquarium volunteers

Every year, literally hundreds of dedicated, passionate people give their time to the Seattle Aquarium—prepping food for our animals, answering questions from our many visitors, and furthering our mission of Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment. In 2013 alone, 1,380 volunteers donated 96,800 hours to our institution!

We couldn’t appreciate our volunteers more, and now is the perfect time to show it. April 6–12 is National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and we want to take this opportunity to say a huge and heartfelt thanks to the many people who share their time and energy with the Seattle Aquarium.

This week, we’ll be sharing thoughts from a few of our volunteers about why they choose to volunteer with us, what they love about volunteering at the Aquarium, and what impacts their volunteer experiences have had on their lives. Check back soon to see what our amazing volunteers have to say!

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When Chewy met Commander at the Seattle Aquarium

Commander and Chewbacca, northern fur seals at the Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium’s new northern fur seal, Chewbacca has officially met his tank-mate Commander! Chewbacca, or Chewy for short, arrived at the Aquarium in February. He spent his first weeks in quarantine and becoming acclimated to his new home in our Northern Fur Seal exhibit while Commander was relocated to another exhibit in our marine mammal complex.

Early this week, Aquarium staff determined that Chewy was ready to meet Commander. Says Curator of Mammals and Birds Traci Belting, “After all the bustling crowds were gone and everything was calm and quiet, we voluntarily shifted Commander to the Northern Fur Seal exhibit, where he and Chewy immediately began to investigate each other.” She continues, “The introduction went as predicted, with a range of behaviors from loud vocals and aggressive postures to total calm grooming and nuzzling together in the water.”

Aquarium staff members will continue to monitor Chewy and Commander’s behavior during the lengthy socialization process as both males try to establish their dominance. Says Traci, “We expect that we’ll continue to observe some very impressive interactions between the two males, which could include growls, wickers*, superficial bites, head bows and routine sparring while they get to know each other.”

*Hoping to hear a wicker for yourself, or just want to know what it is? Come to the Seattle Aquarium to see Chewy and Commander! In the meantime, click here to learn more about northern fur seals.

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Seattle Aquarium featured on “Marine Science Today” website

The Seattle Aquarium was recently featured on the “Marine Science Today” website for its efforts to find its “conservation voice.” The article is part of a series that examines various aquariums and marine life parks around the world to “find out what kinds of places are out there and if they strive to promote education and conservation of the marine world.”

The Seattle Aquarium was praised for its efforts to fulfill its mission of Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment through a variety of programs—both inside the facility and within the community at large—as well as helping to create awareness of/provide education about ocean acidification and climate change. Our partnerships with organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) were also highlighted.

Caroline, Seattle Aquarium Volunteer - Shark Station

Several times, the article’s author commented on one of the distinguishing features of the Aquarium experience: the presence of staff members and trained volunteers at every exhibit, ready to answer visitor questions and further knowledge about marine animals, conservation and more. As Director of Conservation & Education Jim Wharton noted in the article, the approach of less signage and more people is intentional. “You can’t put passion in a sign,” he said. “We would rather connect people with people.”

We invite you to visit the Seattle Aquarium soon and discover something new with one of our “people in blue!”

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