What does a 95-year-old woman from Pikesville have in common with a high school student from Gaithersburg? They both have a passion for ocean conservation and contributed to the record-setting 124,390 volunteer hours logged at the National Aquarium in 2013 - a four percent increase over 2012’s total volunteer hours. The 2013 hours come from more than 960 volunteers and represents a $2.87 million workplace value, the equivalent to approximately 60 fulltime paid positions.
The Aquarium volunteer team represents a wide range of experience, skills and backgrounds including aquarists, divers, lab assistants, clinical veterinarians and more. The volunteers do everything from assisting at the information desk and diving to grass plantings and animal rescues, and they vary as much as their job descriptions. The majority of the volunteers are from Baltimore and the surrounding counties, but some traveled from as far away as Calif., Ariz., N.Y., N.C. and W. Va.; the youngest volunteer is 14 years old and the oldest is 95 years old; and they represent a wide range of educational levels.
Volunteer highlights from 2013 include:
- The Jellies Aquarist program tripled its volunteer and service hours.
- High school students logged close to 10,000 hours in two programs.
- Volunteers contributed more than 2,000 hours of underwater pool maintenance for Dolphin Discovery.
- Eastern Shore Animal Rescue volunteers doubled their service hours to 1,153 in stranding and outreach activities.
According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, 28.5 percent of Maryland residents volunteer for non-profit organizations, placing Maryland 21st among the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Maryland also ranks 21st for volunteer retention rates, with 64.5 percent of people volunteering for more than one year. The National Aquarium has a 77 percent retention rate, with about 40 percent of the adult volunteers providing five or more years of service.
For more information about volunteer opportunities at the National Aquarium, visit http://www.aqua.org/contribute/volunteer.