Shortly after Shiori started her role last summer, she had the chance to work with a few Ocean Wise volunteers through events. In advance of National Volunteer Week (April 19 – 25), she would like to talk about two of our wonderful volunteers who have been a significant part of the Ocean Wise Seafood program – Terry and Leesa.

Terry became a volunteer at the Vancouver Aquarium 5 years ago and has since contributed over 2,000 hours of volunteer work. He has been involved in a variety of teams and roles including gallery educator, BC Cetacean Sightings Network, Ocean Wise Seafood, volunteer recruitment, and Education programs. “Being retired, I’m fortunate to have time availability and therefore meet the various schedules of the volunteer programs,” says Terry. “The Ocean Wise Seafood team offers a great experience to learn and return knowledge to the public through various internal and external programs of the Aquarium. The Seafood team are experts in their field and are rewarding to work with.”

Having grown up in a naval family in Victoria, BC, seamanship and boating were naturally part of his life. He also has experience working on sustainable shellfish operations and loves talking to Aquarium visitors about what he learned from working in fisheries.  One achievement of his career in scientific software applications was an opportunity to assist a Canadian shellfish company in developing new techniques for harvesting deep-sea scallops. Today, that fishery is highly sustainable.

Most recently, Terry volunteered for Ocean Wise Seafood at the Chowder Chowdown Vancouver event on February 20th, 2020. Chowder Chowdown is an annual fundraiser where Ocean Wise partner chefs come head to head to compete for the Chowder Champion title. At this year’s event, Terry led 2 other volunteers at the Ocean Wise Seafood booth, where volunteers engaged with guests through informative Ocean Wise Seafood props and collected their votes for the People’s Choice Award, which were later tallied up by the volunteers in time to announce the winning chowder.

When asked what motivates him to volunteer, Terry answered that volunteering is a great way to learn, maintain an active role, return knowledge to the public, and have fun in the process. His favourite memory of volunteering for the program is face painting at the BC Spot Prawn Festival at the False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf a few years ago, pictured below.

Leesa started volunteering for Ocean Wise in January 2005 – coincidentally, when the Ocean Wise Seafood program launched – which makes her a volunteer for over 15 years. She volunteers in 3 main areas at the Vancouver Aquarium – she educates gallery visitors with the Ocean Wise Seafood cart, talks to the public about macro- and microplastic/fiber pollution and the #BePlasticWise campaign, and gives talks at the member-only Super Saturdays.

Leesa loves to volunteer at Ocean Wise because she loves connecting with people (guests, fellow volunteers, and staff) about their experience and understanding of the ocean and learning about ocean conservation through her roles. She is continually awestruck at the incredible research conducted at Ocean Wise Conservation Association and beyond, and says “the endless learning opportunities make it very easy to stay engaged!”

When asked what motivates her to volunteer, Leesa answered that she loves being able to share information with guests that may inspire them to take some kind of action to protect our oceans. When the Ocean Wise Seafood program was just formed, she remembers being so excited to talk to visitors about the 16 partner restaurants that were part of the program at the time. She is happy to see that the program has grown over the years to 750+ program partners. “Nowadays, being an Ocean Wise partner is the expectation for food service providers across the country and beyond. Consumer/chef/supplier awareness about sustainable seafood has changed every aspect of the industry”.

Her favorite moments as an Ocean Wise volunteer is connecting with kids playing the “Match the Fish to the Fillet” game and hearing about their fish or ocean stories. She loves encouraging guests to check out The Fish Counter and Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery, both of which she is a big supporter.

On behalf of the Seafood team, thank you Terry and Leesa for your hard work and enthusiasm for the program! Volunteers are a crucial part of Ocean Wise and the many programs at the Vancouver Aquarium. See https://www.vanaqua.org/join/volunteer to learn more about volunteering at the Vancouver Aquarium.

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