When kids are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” some of the typical answers are firemen, police officer, doctor or teacher. But from the time I was 10 years old I knew I wanted my first job to be at the Vancouver Aquarium.
As a young boy my family was a member of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and we visited multiple times each year. I have fond memories of sitting in the grand stands and watching the marine mammals swimming and interacting with their care staff. I was always amazed at how incredible and inspiring these animals are.
However, the moment I knew that I wanted to work at the Aquarium when I grew up started at a family sleepover program when I was about 10 years old. My father, two sisters and I spent a night learning about the Aquarium animals and their conservation programs before we tucked into our sleeping bags and spent the night pretending to sleep in the Arctic Gallery with the belugas whales. As I watched them majestically swim by throughout the evening I knew exactly where I wanted to work when I was old enough. That following morning I promptly told my dad, “I am going to work here one day.”
Fast forward a few years later and at 14 I joined the youth volunteer program working as a gallery greeter during the day and a sleepover volunteer at night. Over the next few years I put in a few hundred volunteer hours at the Aquarium.
At 17 I was thrilled to be offered a job working at the Vancouver Aquarium as a birthday party coordinator. I worked mostly weekends leading and educating children around the building. I was once referred to as, “a mother duck with 16 ducklings trailing behind them.” I then transitioned on to the sleepover staff team – I was so excited to be part of the team that sparked my initial love for the Aquarium!
A few years later I joined the visitor experience team and these days you’ll find me helping out guest services as well as running around as duty manager. Throughout my years at the Vancouver Aquarium, I have grown to love all the animals, especially the two beluga whales. I’ve spent numerous nights leading sleepovers in the Arctic Gallery and most mornings I stop by say good morning to Aurora and Qila. I feel so fortunate to be living by childhood dreams by working here at the Vancouver Aquarium.
Blog post by Jon Maciver, duty manager and guest services coordinator.