Volunteers: The Heart of Our Aquarium

Did you know that the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium annually welcomes more than 85,000 visitors to their education facility?That’s more than the capacity of Dodger Stadium and the Staples Center combined!

And even with such a talented staff, it’s still no wonder that the Aquarium relies heavily on the support and willingness of their volunteers. To date, the Aquarium has approximately 180 active volunteers serving within the numerous programs offered to the public. Some of these programs include Saturday story time, school field trips, Monday morning marine biology classes for three- to five-year-olds and marine-based presentations for visitors during public hours.

SMPA’s Volunteer Coordinator Jenna Segal started out as a volunteer herself back in 2010. She remembers the enjoyment of seeing students get excited about learning. “We might be their first point of [marine-related] education,” said Jenna. And with roughly 15,000 students visiting the Aquarium each year, education plays a key role in volunteering.

All volunteers go through a six-session training course, which involves learning some basics of marine biology and Heal the Bay’s hot topics. But don’t think it’s all work and no play here at the Aquarium. Most volunteers would agree that what they do is most gratifying, to say the least.

Barry Seid, a long time volunteer and honoree of the Bob Hertz Award for his loyalty and commitment, knows a little bit about the joys of being an Aquarium volunteer. “When you’re volunteering, you get more out of it than the people around you,” said Barry, who loves to mingle and joke around with every visitor. “It’s very satisfying, instant gratification.” When asked what might be his favorite volunteer-related memory, he answered sincerely. “Well, every memory has honestly been my favorite.” Which might explain the 13 years of service he has dedicated to the Aquarium thus far.

As we continue to celebrate the Aquarium’s 10-year anniversary and celebrate all that’s been accomplished, we can’t help but acknowledge the epic role each volunteer has played in this success. It’s not just about the training or the amount of hours invested, to volunteer is to pour your all into a cause that is dear to the heart; to educate and inspire the care and conservation of the Santa Monica Bay and its inhabitants. Here’s to another 10 years!

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” –Winston Churchill

— Deana Fry
Aquarium Intern

Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium annually recognizes all the amazing work – and hours – put in by Aquarium volunteers. Last week the marine science center held its pin ceremony honoring the volunteers.