Posts Tagged 'ACT!'



Volunteer Spotlight: Scott Barr

Get to know a little more about a member of the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!), Scott Barr, and what motivates him to volunteer.

How long have you been volunteering with ACT and what keeps you coming back to volunteer with the program?
I have been volunteering with ACT for about three years now. I began volunteering with ACT shortly after I started working at the National Aquarium because I thought it sounded like a fun opportunity to impact the world positively, and a chance to spend time outdoors getting to know coworkers that I might not cross paths with during routine day-to-day activities. That all turned out to be true and still holds true for my time with ACT; I meet new and interesting people on all of the trips. It is also a great time outdoors and, if you’re lucky, in the sunshine! The Aquarium Conservation Team does a great job of being welcoming and inclusive, which makes working with them always enjoyable.

Scott digging holes at Indian Head for a staff member to plant

What motivated you to join and become a team leader?
I guess for the most part I was motivated by the energy of the other ACT members and the Conservation Department leaders. It’s hard not to rise to the level of that enthusiasm. The groups that join us for the field days are looking for an impactful conservation activity and an opportunity to learn how we are helping to protect natural [environments]; being a team leader helps to facilitate these goals. It is also an opportunity to learn more myself. And who doesn’t like to play around in the mud once in a while, let the kid inside you live!

What is your most memorable experience from an ACT event?
The most memorable experience I had was a group of Girl Scouts that we had [at the 2009 Barren Island] planting. All I could think at the start was “I hope they bring some Thin Mints to get us through all of the squealing and giggles,” but it turned out to be a really strong group. The girls were all focused and eager to plant and didn’t mind any of the muck. They were vigorous and interested and actually kept me on my toes with all of the questions they kept asking; I didn’t know a steady stream of inquiries could be sustained through an entire day of digging holes and putting plants in the ground, but I can now attest to the untiring minds of youth. Luckily for me, their chaperones couldn’t maintain the same stamina or I might still be answering questions on that island.

Scott lays out wetland grasses for a Girl Scout troop to plant on Barren Island

Does your work with ACT tie into your job or other volunteer work you are engaged in?
It would be hard not to find a way in which ACT doesn’t tie in with working at the National Aquarium. The mission of the Nation Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures–what could be more true to the mission than the Aquarium Conservation Team? As part of ACT, you strive to inspire volunteers at the same time that you are working directly to achieve conservation. Teamwork, communication, and engagement are key parts of ACT that also blend into the regular duties of my job.

Sounds like fun, right?! Click Here if you are interested in volunteering at any of our conservation events or joining the ACT! program. And be sure to sign up to receive our Conservation e-newsletter.

A day of cleanup

Last Saturday a dedicated group of community volunteers joined the Aquarium Conservation Team at Fort McHenry to clean up debris in honor of Earth Day. They worked until the dumpster was overflowing, removing 10,944 pieces of debris from the marsh! 

Each spring the marsh is transformed into a living classroom for hundreds of students from Baltimore City schools. The cleanup day came just in time to give the education areas a much-needed facelift before the Aquarium’s AquaPartners students arrived this week. New gravel was added to the walking areas, and the butterfly gardens were weeded and given new mulch!

Fort McHenry Field Days could not be successful without the volunteers who step up to spend a Saturday morning in the mud. A sincere thank you goes out to all of our volunteers. And judging from the pictures, it seems like everyone had an enjoyable day!  Click here to see for yourself!

Simple Action: Volunteer your time

To celebrate Earth Day, every day this week we are sharing a simple action that can be taken to impact change. Everyone can do something to impact the health of our planet. Today, we’d like to encourage the simple action of volunteering.

Volunteering just a few hours of your time at a neighborhood cleanup or planting event is an easy way to show support for a healthy planet, and can really make an impact. In addition to Earth Day, organizations around the country are also celebrating National Volunteer Week.

In 2009, the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) helped restore 119 acres of Chesapeake Bay habitat, planted more than 1 million grasses and removed 539,936 pieces of debris from public parks! Only with the help of our dedicated, passionate volunteers are we able to restore habitat and create a cleaner, thriving environment.

While at a dune restoration event last week in Virginia Beach, ACT! stopped by a 2006 project site for monitoring. We are pleased to report the successful revival of the sand dunes at Little Creek, Virginia.

Continue reading ‘Simple Action: Volunteer your time’

Volunteer Spotlight: Planting a milestone

The Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) has seen many great volunteers come and go over the years, but one volunteer who has seen the program through since the very beginning is Mary Sidlowski.  She is a mainstay at nearly every one of our conservation events, a source of inspiration and comic relief. 

Mary began volunteering for the Aquarium in 1993 because she was looking for “a rewarding way to fill her time.”  Since then she has become an integral part of many departments; she divides her time between working in Australia Wild Extremes, the rainforest, membership, education, the Marine Animal Rescue Program, and ACT! 

“I was in ACT! before ACT! existed,” Mary says with a smile.  She recalls a time when the Conservation Team’s only projects were beach clean-ups at Assateague Island, and she says “every year it has gotten better and better.”  Now Mary loves to participate in wetland and dune restoration projects, and really enjoys planting the grasses – even if it means being covered in mud!  “It’s very rewarding work, because you get to immediately see the results of what you’ve done,” she explains. 

Continue reading ‘Volunteer Spotlight: Planting a milestone’


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