I did it. I finished my last shadow shift that is required before I can take the certification test to become a certified aquarium volunteer. The process to become a volunteer is not that difficult. If the aquarium made it too difficult they may have had trouble finding people to fill the need.
Here is a recap of what is required to become a certified volunteer at the Albuquerque Aquarium:
- Attend the volunteer training class&mdashit is an all day event held a couple of times a year in the aquarium education building.
- Volunteer for two shifts shadowing a certified volunteer at the Shark and Ray Encounter (a shift is two hours long).
- Volunteer for two shifts shadowing a certified volunteer at the Invertebrate Touchpool.
- Take a written test and demonstrate to the volunteer coordinator that you know how to safely setup and manage both touchpools at the aquarium
The only thing I have left to complete is the test and demonstration.
The Aquarium Sleep-over
The last shadow shift was unique. It was scheduled during the aquarium sleep over event. Every month from September through May the Albuquerque Aquarium holds a sleep over event where up to 60 people can bring their sleeping bags and spend the night at the aquarium. I had read about this event on the aquarium’s website, but this is the first time I’ve seen how it works.
Around 6:30pm in the evening the guests arrive with their sleeping bags and overnight gear. Everyone gathers together in the education building and the staff go over the rules and event schedule. While they did that I joined my touchpool trainers in the aquarium to setup the invertebrate touchpool.
My trainers for the evening were a husband a wife team named Matt and Diana. There was also another volunteer trainee in our group named Kimi. Kimi is a teacher and when the kids showed up you could tell. She did a fantastic job at communicating with the kids and getting them excited about the exhibit.
This shift was a little longer than a normal touchpool shift because of the special event. We ended up being there for around three hours with two of those spent running the touchpool. We are only allowed to have the invertebrates in the touchpool for one hour so half way through the shift we ended up swapping the animals for a new set.
I had a lot of fun at this shift and I’ll probably volunteer for every special event at the aquarium that I can once I’m certified. I’m scheduled to complete my certification tomorrow. Wish me luck!