Averaging nearly one million visitors per year, the Vancouver Aquarium relies tremendously on the work of its volunteers who assist in a variety of ways, including in our education, administrative, special event and gallery efforts. In 2011, 1,000 volunteers gave more than 103,000 hours of their time to help the Aquarium run smoothly.
Recently, some of our volunteers have had the opportunity to assist with the Aquarium’s new penguin exhibit, Penguin Point. With over 5,000 visitors to the Aquarium on some days, Penguin Point is arguably one of the busiest galleries. Many dedicated volunteers, called “Peducators,” in conjunction with AquaKids volunteers, help to enhance the guest experience for those visiting Penguin Point.
Run by dedicated volunteers, guests enjoy activities such as Penguin Bingo, face painting and an Ocean Wise game about sustainable fishing. Our knowledgeable volunteers also assist with educating the public about the conservation of these endangered African penguins by helping answer any questions visitors may have.
Just before Penguin Point opened as the Aquarium’s newest gallery, Peducator volunteers participated in training sessions so that they could be prepared to take on their highly coveted shifts. Greg D., one of our Peducators, was at the very first training session before the arrival of our black and white waddlers. He remembers the insightful knowledge he received about the African penguins at training, and acknowledges that he still learns something new about them with each passing shift. Greg’s favourite aspect about volunteering at Penguin Point is not only being able to see the penguins all day, but interacting with guests about them. He loves the excitement of educating visitors who are just as amazed as he is about the loveable birds.
Peducators are out at Penguin Point whether it’s rain or shine. Despite the rainy Vancouver weather at times, Peducator volunteers Francesca F. and Carly F. brave the weather every week to assist guests who are visiting our African penguins. As previous school program volunteers, they both agree that one of the many highlights of this position involves working with the same people every week in a great atmosphere. Francesca says that this enables the volunteers to work together as a tight-knit team.
Sean and Brenda J. started volunteering as part of the Aquarium’s most recent group of volunteer recruits this past May. Extremely passionate about penguins, this couple jumped at the chance to volunteer once they heard about our new friends being featured. As an example of their affinity towards these birds, Sean proposed to Brenda in front of the Woodland Park penguin exhibit in Seattle many years ago.
Every Sunday, Sean and Brenda can be found using their vast knowledge about penguins to educate guests of all ages passing through Penguin Point. Using items in their prop bag, Sean and Brenda interact with curious visitors who want to learn more about the birds. These props include a feather from the coat of an African penguin and a real Magellanic penguin skull. So far, they have found their interaction with other people to be the most enjoyable during their volunteer experience.
As you can see, our volunteers have a wonderful time working to support conservation and education at the Aquarium. Our next volunteer information session takes place in August. Consider becoming a Vancouver Aquarium volunteer today! To receive an email reminder about the August volunteer information session, send us an email at [email protected].