Volunteer Spotlight: Q&A With Cris and Bill Fuller

Learn a little about a couple from Virginia Beach who volunteers with us restoring sand dunes at NAS Dam Neck Annex time and time again!

How long have you been volunteering with the National Aquarium?

Three years ago we saw an article in our local newspaper about your need for volunteers. Our thoughts were “Gee, a day on the beach…doing something worthwhile…what could be better?!”

Why do you continue to help?

It’s obvious our shorelines need help. We like that it’s a short-term commitment. We know we’ll be there volunteering for the two days of the event (yes, we do BOTH days), and then we’re free to go do something else.

At the end of the day, although we’re tired, we have such a good feeling, a sense of accomplishment, a connection to the Earth and its beauty.

Bill at the May 2012 planting

What is your most memorable experience from an event?

We have so many great memories…

Lots of men working to get the truck un-stuck in the soft sand, pelicans flying in formation just 20 feet over our heads, gentle rain cooling us off, sighting dolphins, kids making sand angels in between planting flats of dune grass.

We have fun getting to know the people working next to us. There are Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, people with multiple college degrees, people who couldn’t wait to get out of high school, home-schooled families, people with handicaps, people with huge muscles, locals, out-of-towners—all there to help. Since Bill spent 30 years in the Navy, we enjoy being around the active-duty sailors and marines who also come to help.

The people from the National Aquarium and our local Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center are such fun. We especially like their willingness to answer all of our questions about marine science. We get mini science lessons for free! How cool is that?

Cris at the May 2012 planting

Some of the many things learned while working:

The wind can start piling up sand behind each slat of the dune fencing almost immediately. Pretty ghost crabs get really big and, although they generally come out of their burrows at night, you can see them when you arrive in the morning. Dime-sized mushrooms can grow on the beach.

If learning about Cris and Bill’s volunteer experience has inspired you to join us in the field, you can sign up for one of our upcoming restoration events.

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