According to records kept by Julie Piper, the Tennessee Aquarium’s manager of volunteer services, 800,000 hours of service have been provided by volunteers since opening in 1992.
“We’re so fortunate to have so many individuals who share their talents with us,” said Ms. Piper. “We simply could not have achieved many of the milestones over the past two decades without the help of our dedicated volunteers. They have helped make the Tennessee Aquarium the top-rated Aquarium in the country for overall satisfaction.”
If someone works eight hours each day, five days a week for 50 weeks out of the year, then they put in 2,000 hours of work in an average year. (Assuming they have two weeks of paid vacation.) That means Aquarium volunteers have collectively given the equivalent of 400 years worth of work over the past 20 years. Among the ranks are nearly two dozen charter volunteers who are still at it. Together these 20-year volunteers have given nearly 45,000 hours of their time to the Aquarium. (Approximately 22.5 years worth of labor if you use the formula above.)
Wanda Wilmoth is one of the charter volunteers. She was among the first people greeting guests as a docent on the Aquarium’s opening day. “That first day was interesting with all of the activities and excitement,” said MS. Wilmoth. “I enjoy volunteering today as much as ever before.” Ms. Wilmoth says anyone with an interest in people and animals would enjoy volunteering at the Aquarium. “I like seeing visitors having fun,” said Ms. Wilmoth. “Adults get as excited as the children. Watching that is rewarding, especially if I can provide some information or point something out that makes them smile.”
Right now the Aquarium is hoping to recruit some more volunteer docents to greet guests and share fun facts about animals and exhibits. MS. Piper is accepting applications online through Sept. 14. In addition to sharing knowledge about the natural world, Aquarium docents help roll out the red carpet each day. “Our volunteers look for opportunities to enhance the guest experience,” said Ms. Piper. “We’re looking for friendly people who know how to deliver world-class service to each one of our visitors.”
To become a volunteer docent, apply online at: http://www.tnaqua.org/GetInvolved/VolunteerOpportunities/DocentVolunteers.aspx. Applicants must be over 18 years old and available to attend seven training sessions on Tuesday evenings beginning Sept. 25 from 6-8:15 pm.
Aquarium volunteers enjoy several benefits including:
Family membership after three months of service
Discounts in the Tennessee Aquarium or IMAX 3D Theater gift shops