Long-time volunteer Deborah Williams has been named Hamilton County’s adult winner for this year’s Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards. The award is by nomination and seeks “to recognize outstanding volunteers from each of Tennessee’s 95 counties.”
“Deb was beyond surprised about winning this award-it really came out of the blue,” said Guest Programs Coordinator Beth Brellenthin. “Of course, she knows she shares this with all the dedicated volunteers at the Tennessee Aquarium that she works with.”
The GVSA’s statewide recognition event will take place on March 11 in Nashville.
A former real estate agent and lawyer, Ms. Williams has been volunteering at the Aquarium since October 2008. To date, she has contributed more than 2,400 hours of her time, including stints in food preparation and leading behind-the-scenes tours in both buildings.
The Aquarium has a pool of about 500 active volunteers, who contribute more than 60,000 hours of their time each year to the tasks ranging from visitor engagement and dive presentations to food preparation and guided tours.
Ms. Williams said she was “very shocked” at hearing she had won the award but credited the Aquarium for giving her an opportunity to serve. Those hundreds of hours, she says, were exceptionally well-spent.
“The people who are here are amazing — the staff, the volunteers … everybody,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun to be in a really beautiful place like this and show the guests the wonder of nature and educate them. It’s just really fun to help people learn about our environment and the Aquarium.”
Those interested in becoming a volunteer at the Aquarium can apply for the next seasonal docent drive, which begins on April 16. Chosen applicants will be scheduled to volunteer on weekends between Memorial Day (May 28) and Labor Day (Sept. 3). More information and an online application are available atwww.tnaqua.org/volunteer-opportunities/docent-volunteers.