Archive for the 'Volunteer Spotlight' Category

Thoughtful Thursday: Inspiring the Next Generation of Ocean-Lovers

Our celebration of National Volunteer Appreciation Week continues with a special story about one of the Aquarium’s volunteers and her students!

Abbe Harman has been a volunteer supporter of the National Aquarium for 28 years and a teacher for for Frederick County Public Schools for 25 years. As an Enrichment Specialist at Middletown Elementary School, Abbe works closely with fifth grade students, teaching them about the Chesapeake Bay watershed and coral reef ecosystems!

Yesterday, Abbe hosted a large group of her fifth graders for a special field trip tot he Aquarium! The students were able to see their teacher in-action, as she led an interactive lesson and fed the animals in our Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit!

national aquarium volunteer diver

In the weeks leading up to their field trip, Abbe’s students also had the opportunity to enter an essay contest for the opportunity to go on a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Aquarium.

Abbe, from all of us here at the National Aquarium, thank you for being a longtime supporter of our mission and an impactful educator.

Do you volunteer? Share your story with us in the comments section and online using #NVW14!

It’s National Volunteer Appreciation Week!

In celebration of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we’re highlighting just a few of the amazing ways our volunteers have gone above and beyond to help the National Aquarium fulfill our mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures!

The passion and dedication of our volunteers led them to log a record-setting 124,390 hours at the National Aquarium in 2013 – a four percent increase over 2012’s total volunteer hours! The 2013 hours come from more than 960 volunteers and represents a $2.87 million workplace value (equivalent to approximately 60 full-time positions).

The Aquarium volunteer team represents a wide range of experience, skills and backgrounds including aquarists, divers, lab assistants, clinical veterinarians and more. The volunteers do everything from assisting at the information desk and diving to grass plantings and animal rescues, and they vary as much as their job descriptions.

The majority of the volunteers are from Baltimore and the surrounding counties, but some traveled from as far away as California, New York, North Carolina and West Virginia.

Here are some major volunteer highlights from 2013:

  • The Jellies Aquarist program tripled its volunteer and service hours.
  • High school students logged close to 10,000 hours in two programs.
  • Volunteers contributed more than 2,000 hours of underwater maintenance for Dolphin Discovery.
  • Eastern Shore Animal Rescue volunteers doubled their service hours to 1,153 in stranding and outreach activities.

For more information about volunteer opportunities at the National Aquarium, visit aqua.org/volunteer.

Stay tuned for more volunteer highlights throughout the week and join the conversation online using #NVW14!

Volunteer Spotlight: Jillie Drutz, Chesapeake Conservation Corps

We would like to welcome the newest volunteer of the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!), Jillie Drutz! Joining the National Aquarium as the 4th Chesapeake Conservation Corps (CCC) volunteer the department has hosted, Jillie will be dedicating a year to helping the Conservation department in their endeavors to conserve, restore, and educate about the Chesapeake watershed.

national aquarium volunteer jillie

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps, a program supported by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, was established in 2010 by the Maryland Legislature in order to provide environmental service-learning opportunities for young professionals interested in pursuing conservation careers. The initiative pairs around 25 Corps volunteers with environmental organizations focusing on Chesapeake Bay conservation all throughout Maryland.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Jillie graduated in May of 2013 from the George Washington University in Washington, DC where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Biological Anthropology. She always knew that one day she would dedicate some time to working to protect the Chesapeake Bay, which is why she applied to the Chesapeake Conservation Corps. Jillie feels extremely honored to be assigned to the National Aquarium, where she gets to combine her love of fieldwork and education, and where she can learn more about how a museum institution can be involved in the local community.

Jillie has already had the opportunity to participate in wetland restoration at the Masonville fringe wetland and riparian buffer restoration at Farring-Baybrook Park and Indian Head Naval Facility. She has also worked with students in our Wetland Nursery Program. She enjoys working with community volunteers and students from various backgrounds during these projects, and is excited for the opportunity to give back to her city and her Bay. She cannot wait for the field season to start again in the Spring!

Sign up for one of our upcoming conservation events and come meet our new volunteer!

Volunteer Spotlight: Kara Brown

volunteerspotlight_baltimore

Meet Kara Brown, one of our amazing community volunteers who has generously donated her time at our restoration events (and converted it into dollars through T. Rowe Price’s “dollars for doers” employee program)!

Kara has volunteered at numerous of our planting events, including this project at Indian Head!

Kara has volunteered at numerous of our planting events, including this project at Indian Head!

How long have you been volunteering with the National Aquarium?

Although I had wanted to volunteer for the Aquarium for several years, nothing worked out with my schedule until June 2012, so just since this past year.

What motivated you to volunteer and why do you continue?

I was motivated to volunteer to help rectify some of the damage done by centuries of misuse of the Chesapeake Bay.  The Indian Head shoreline restoration project was perfect- it has great importance, fit my schedule, and would allow me to utilize my employer’s “dollars for doers” program, which made a donation to the Aquarium based on the number of hours that I volunteered.  I hope to be able to continue volunteering with the Aquarium, as the work they do is so important to restoring health to the Bay and the world’s oceans.

What is your most memorable experience from an event?

I would have to say my most memorable experience was the 110 degree heat index during the Indian Head shoreline restoration!  But seriously, it has been seeing the hard work and selfless dedication of a core of repeat volunteers, and the Aquarium employees.  It is amazing to witness how much can be accomplished in a short amount of time by a small group of caring people.

Does your work with the National Aquarium tie into your job or other volunteer work you are engaged in?

The work that I did with the National Aquarium definitely goes hand in hand with my personal life and other volunteer work.  As an avid outdoors person and paddler, I am a long time member of the Baltimore Canoe and Kayak Club.  I have participated in river cleanups organized by the club for several years.  These cleanups have removed many tons of trash – appliances, over 1,000 tires, and even several complete cars – from two area rivers and their shores.

Thanks for all the hard work and support, Kara! Want to become a volunteer? Click here to find out how! 

Volunteer Spotlight: Aquarium Conservation Team Welcomes Its Newest Member!

The Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) is pleased to welcome its newest volunteer, Steph Pully! She will be volunteering with us for one year as a part of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps. The Corps, now welcoming its third class, was founded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust as a program to promote the health of the bay through environmental education, community engagement in conservation and energy efficiency. The trust’s 26 volunteers are working with various environmentally-focused host organizations throughout the state of Maryland.

Steph Pully doing restoration work in the field

Throughout the year, members undergo a series of trainings on leadership, professional development, environmental education and watershed restoration.  These trainings are aimed at developing skill sets that will help them in their future careers, as well as teach the members more about the Chesapeake Bay and what we can do to protect it.

Steph, originally from Frederick, Maryland, graduated in May from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.  She earned her B.S. degree in Environmental Science.  Steph also spent the summers in Ocean City, Maryland working for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program where she gained valuable, hands-on experience in watershed restoration.

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps allows Steph to combine her love for both restoration events in the field and environmental education programming.  In her short time as a member, she has already connected with her fellow corps members and looks forward to working with them throughout the year. She also appreciates the numerous networking opportunities that the corps provides for young environmentalists.

As a volunteer with ACT!, Steph hopes to gain valuable experience and contribute to the rebuild and preservation of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  In the near future, she is looking forward to her first trip with the ACT! to Virginia Beach for a sand dune restoration project this September.  She cannot wait to spend her days out in the field and to get involved with the community volunteers!

Sign up for any one of our conservation events and come meet our newest member!


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