The Vancouver Aquarium has involved volunteers in its work since the very first day its doors opened in 1956. Since then, our award-winning volunteer program has grown to include 1,000 volunteers, who contribute more than 100,000 hours of service each year.
Every volunteer’s efforts enhance our capacity to educate and inspire the community to help conserve aquatic life. But there is a special group of volunteers who have gone above and beyond by not only contributing their time, skills and perspectives to further our mission, but also by shaping the Aquarium itself over decades of involvement.
Today, December 5, is International Volunteer Day, and is a fitting time to celebrate and recognize this special group of our volunteers – the 50 or so individuals who have given more than 10 years of service to our organization. They are not only experienced, but have also demonstrated a deep commitment to the work that we do here at the Aquarium.
In 1993, newly retired Ruth Morrison was looking for something different to do, and heard on the radio about the opportunity to volunteer at the Aquarium. Since then, she has led tours for school kids and assisted behind the scenes in the Volunteer Services office, contributing more than 4,500 hours over the last 20 years.
“The highlight for me has been meeting a diverse group of people. You are so welcomed [here]. The Aquarium has a great respect for their volunteers and makes you feel very special,” says Ruth. “There are also so many interesting things and knowledge that you can access [as a volunteer]… I didn’t even know belugas existed before coming to the Aquarium!”
Anne Scales started volunteering at the Aquarium in 1988. “Through having a membership, I found out that the Aquarium was looking for volunteers; I signed up, and haven’t looked back since,” says Anne. “I’ve done various volunteer jobs over the years – from Clamshell stockroom, special events, animal observations, sleepovers, and most things in between. To this day, behind-the-scenes tours are still my favourite thing to do.”
Three words to sum up Sharon Adelman’s Aquarium volunteer experience are: “Cold and wet!” Sharon has been volunteering as a marine educator in our Wetlab and a Marine Mammal Rescue volunteer since 1989.
“I keep volunteering because it gives me the feeling I’m having an affect on marine conservation; plus I’ve learned about marine life and working on a team,” says Sharon. “The highlights of my experience so far are being in the pool with Jack [our rescued and rehabilitated harbour porpoise] and doing rockfish reconnoitering [surveying] in Howe Sound.”
Ruth, Anne, Sharon and others will be recognized today at a special lunch hosted by Dr. John Nightingale, Vancouver Aquarium’s president and CEO. Together, this group of long-time volunteers, about 50 individuals, have contributed more than 1,000 years and 400,000 hours of volunteer service to the Aquarium…and counting.
If you would like to join our long-standing and committed volunteer team, then visit our volunteer webpage for more information.