Sandy Caldwell began volunteering as a Tennessee Aquarium docent nearly 21 years ago. Today she serves as Sous Chef to porcupine fish, giant stingrays, toothy sharks and other inhabitants of the Ocean Journey building. Ms. Caldwell has logged more than 4,000 hours as an Aquarium volunteer. “The best thing about volunteering here is being around the people,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed learning new things and interacting with visitors and the other volunteers.”
Bill Sesko joined the Aquarium team as a volunteer docent nearly 10 years ago. Since then he’s devoted more than 2,100 hours of his time to helping guests get the most out of their visits by sharing fascinating facts about the animals and exhibits. “I really have a lot of fun working in the Butterfly Garden and the Stingray Bay touchtank,” he said. “I enjoy meeting people from all over, answering their questions and engaging folks who look like they have a question about what they’re seeing.”
“We really appreciate long-time volunteers like Bill and Sandy. They keep coming back because it’s fun and rewarding,” said Chris Bowman, the Aquarium’s volunteer manager. “But with two buildings full of plants and animals, we have a continuous need for more help.”
Right now there is an immediate need for docents and Wet Lab volunteers at the Aquarium.
Docent applications are due by Feb. 10, and an eight-week training course begins on Feb. 25 from 6-8:30 p.m. Volunteers must have access to a computer and commit to volunteering once a week from 9:30-2 p.m. or 1:30-6 p.m. Weekend volunteers are especially needed.
Wet Lab volunteers are responsible for preparing animal diets and caring for various animals used in education programs. These volunteers are required to be able to lift 25 pounds as well as bend and kneel on the floor. Wet Lab volunteers are needed once a week from 8-11 a.m. on Saturday or Sunday.
More information about volunteering at the Tennessee Aquarium is available by calling 423 785-3057. Docent information can also be found on the Aquarium’s website at http://bit.ly/tnaqvolopps.