From seal face masks to behind-the-scenes tasks: volunteers do it all!

Allan Waterfield | Vice President of Operations

The Seacoast Science Center, like most non-profits, depends upon volunteers to fulfill its mission. Volunteers provide support in many different ways. In 2016 over 500 individuals volunteered at the Center, where they provide a total of 11,198.5 hours of service. Over 50 percent of this time was donated by “regular” volunteers, with some whom come for one or two days and with others giving greater than 800 hours of their time. One of our regular volunteers is here today making felt seal faces for 80 young people who will be participating in one of our upcoming programs.

The jobs for volunteers are many, from feeding fish to leading school groups on a rocky shore tide pool adventure. After a short training class most regular volunteers start on the floor where they share with visitors the wonders in the touch tank or answer questions about the exhibits. Most visitors are fascinated to learn that sea stars have eyes and want to know how long a lobster might live. As time goes on the wide array of opportunities open up. Many of the regular volunteers are retirees, looking to share their expertise or to dive in to something brand new.

During camp season the young people who serve as counsellors in training (CIT’s) provide wonderful staff support. In 2016 these high school student contributed over 2,400 hours of volunteer time. Nearly all of the individuals in this group are former campers. For many it is their first opportunity to have regular, all-day responsibility.

A few days a year you might find as many as 120 volunteers working around the Center or within the Park. These one-time volunteers come from corporations or schools from the surrounding communities. Several groups have come back year after year, usually with a specially printing t-shirt for the day. All seem to enjoy the opportunity to give their time to the Center. Last year they painted the building, built a gazebo, groomed the trails, and refreshed the flower beds.

If you attended any of the Music-by-the-Sea concerts in July you were greeted by volunteers, from the parking lot to every step of the evening. The Concert attendance has topped 1,800 and the event would not be possible without volunteer assistance. It takes nearly 70 volunteers to facilitate the event, starting with early afternoon set-up and ending with late evening breakdown. Special events volunteers also are critical for our Rescue Run: Race for Marine Mammals 5K trail race and Kid’s Fun Run held in April, Sippin’ for Seals held in June, and BioBlitz held in September. Every year we welcome new individuals that join our veteran volunteers. A few have been here from the very start.

A special training is required for those who are accepted to serve as Marine Mammal Rescue Team (MMRT) volunteers. Last year MMRT volunteers gave 790 hours of their time, with the largest commitment time spent helping to educate onlookers at the scene of the beached humpback whale Snowplow. We received over 120 reports on our Marine Mammal Rescue hot line last year and MMRT volunteers are often called for initial assessment.

If you are interested in joining in the fun and helping the Center advance its ocean education mission, behind the scenes or on the front line, please contact our volunteer coordinator Laura Bahl at [email protected]scnh.org or 603-436-8043, ext. 21.

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