Maritime Aquarium seeks volunteers for summer season

Older teens and adults can volunteer now for a fun, rewarding summer guiding guests through butterfly encounters and other exhibits in The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, which also is accepting applications for its empowering volunteer program for high school students.

The Aquarium is seeking volunteers age 17 and older for its new Summer Stewards volunteer program, which asks for a commitment only from June 4 through Labor Day (Sept. 5). And it’s inviting students 14 to 18 years old into ECHO (Education Conservation Heritage and Outreach), a program where teens share the issues of marine debris with Aquarium guests while also participating in related work in the field with Aquarium staff.

“The new Summer Stewards role is a perfect opportunity for older teens, college students and adults to help the Aquarium spread awareness and appreciation for the environment while interpreting some of our most exciting exhibits,” said Ann Marie Lisi, the Aquarium’s Associate Director of Education. “And the ECHO program offers a great experience for high-school students thinking about a career in marine biology or the environmental sciences.”

Volunteers are critical to The Maritime Aquarium’s ability to fulfill its mission of educating and inspiring guests about Long Island Sound and the world ocean. Last year, volunteers gave an invaluable 18,575 hours of service.

Summer Stewards

Volunteers in this new program will help Aquarium guests learn and discover in the special “Flutter Zone” butterfly exhibit and its “Flutter Fun” activity tables. Summer Stewards also will help guide the youngest guests with activities and artifacts in the new “Sea & Discover Zone” learning center for preschoolers and their parents.

Summer Stewards must commit to volunteering three 4- to 4.5-hour shifts per week from June 4 through Sept. 5 (Labor Day).

Prior knowledge about butterflies and the marine world isn't necessary. That's what will be taught in an upcoming training course.

Deadline to sign up is Fri., May 13, followed by virtual interviews with applicants on Tues., May 17 and Thurs., May 19. Selected candidates will be invited to evening training workshops on Tues., May 31 (online), and on Thurs., June 2 and Fri., June 3 (both at the Aquarium). All sessions are from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Participation in all three sessions is required.

A $50 fee covers the costs of training materials and uniforms.

After Labor Day, Stewards will have the opportunity to join the Aquarium’s year-round Gallery Ambassadors program.

ECHO (teens 14-18)

ECHO is designed for high-school students who are passionate about the environment, conservation and The Maritime Aquarium. In focusing on the threat that marine debris poses to the environment (and on prevention strategies), ECHO teens staff interactive displays and lead Aquarium guests through mission-aligned activities, and also participate in hands-on community-science opportunities in the field.

This tiered program offers opportunities for teens to rise through responsibility levels and gain experience with interpretation, program evaluation, curriculum development, community science, and coaching and mentorship of teens at lower tiers. Such community involvement and skills can enhance a college application.

“ECHO teens gain valuable, transferable skills that will aid them in preparation for life after high school,” Lisi said. “We’re excited by how the program will create confident community advocates who are well-versed in both local and global conservation issues and initiatives.”

Any teen currently enrolled in high school is welcome to apply to ECHO.

Sign-up deadline is Wed., June 1 for the summer trimester. Virtual interviews with applicants will be conducted on Wed., June 8 and Fri., June 10. Selected candidates will be invited to training workshops on Wed., June 15 and Fri., June 17 (both virtual from 6-8 p.m.) and on Sat., June 18 (1-5 p.m. at the Aquarium). Participation in all three sessions is required. Candidates also must complete an online course.

During the summer, ECHO teens must volunteer six shifts per month, plus additional hours for community-science and professional development opportunities. A minimum of 70 hours is required for the summer trimester. Time commitments change during the school year.

The Maritime Aquarium is grateful to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for awarding a grant to support the ECHO program. Thanks to the grant, the $50 registration fee is waived through August 2023.

Proof of vaccinations and boosters is required for all Maritime Aquarium staff and volunteers.

Volunteers receive discounts in the Aquarium Gift Shop, 4D Theater and on many programs.

Learn more – and sign up – at www.maritimeaquarium.org/volunteer.


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