Jo Smith is going to be a teacher. So when she started volunteering at the Vancouver Aquarium two years ago, it was teaching in the Wet Lab that most excited her. Since then, she’s expressed her love of teaching through her volunteer role in nearly every way possible: school programs, gallery programs such as Our World Is Research and AquaNews, and providing American Sign Language interpretation for the marine mammal shows on Accessibility Awareness Day. Now finishing up her Bachelor of Education at University of British Columbia, Jo plans to get into science education, as well as teaching for deaf students.
Jo loves the aquatic animals that live in the habitats at the Aquarium, of course, but she says the people who work and volunteer here are what make this an awesome place to volunteer. Not only are they friendly and supportive, but they “geek out” as much as she does over sea cucumbers and gooseneck barnacles.
And of course, there are the visitors. Jo says she has a special soft spot in her heart for the programs Our World Is Research and AquaNews, because of the way the informal interactions make learning a two-way street. In addition to sharing her own knowledge and passion about the life in our oceans, the visitors teach her things, too. And she takes what she learns back into other areas of her life – throughout the week, she shares what she’s learned – especially about conservation – “with anyone who will listen to me.”
“I really want to show people that our world is fragile and that we are all more interconnected than we think, and love it when I can see the fire light in someone else, too,” Jo says. “Being at the Aquarium immerses me in a knowledge base that I love to expand and share with others every chance I get.”
“Volunteers like Jo make the Aquarium such a wonderful place to be a part of,” says Ninon Daubigeon, Aquarium manager of visitor experience. “She is an amazing, kind and forever enthusiastic person who has touched countless visitors of all ages, and from around the world, by sharing her passion and bringing our stories and animals to life!.”
To learn more about the Aquarium’s award-winning volunteer services program, visit here. The next volunteer recruitment period will take place this month.