Volunteer Spotlight: Jake A.

At the Greensboro Science Center, we are honored to welcome approximately 750 volunteers each year, giving a cumulative 36,000+ hours of their time. With a friendly greeting and a warm smile, our volunteers help us carry out our mission each day, educating our visitors about our animals and exhibits and inspiring them to learn more.

This week, we’d like to introduce you to Jake A:

Jake A

I started with the Greensboro Science Center in 2013 and have served in many different areas. During the summer, I have been a Teacher’s Assistant and an Exhibit Guide. Currently, I volunteer as either a Zoo or Aquarium Docent.


I was introduced to volunteering through another volunteer, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who was interested in the program. There are countless opportunities and the community that is created with the other volunteers and staff members is such a rewarding experience. They all share a love of learning and nature.


Every shift, I get to meet new people while sharing cool facts about the animals and the exhibits. The volunteer community is so welcoming and tight-knit, it is a pleasure to simply be part of it. The Volunteer Department seeks to share with visitors the awesomeness of nature. By interacting with other volunteers and being part of the program as a whole, this has a positive impact on visitors and myself alike.

GSC Welcomes Two New Honeybee Colonies

The Greensboro Science Center is home to two new honeybee hives located in the zoo at the Friendly Farm. The warm weather we experienced early this year has stimulated colonies of bees to head out, seeking new hives. On two separate occasions in the last couple of weeks, colonies of European honeybees were discovered building hives on the GSC’s perimeter fence. Both colonies were found and retrieved by the GSC’s volunteer beekeeper, Linda Walbridge and GSC Horticulturist, Chandra Metheny. The team had to assemble quickly to remove the colonies and place them in new hives because the freezing nighttime temperatures would have killed the bees.

The process of safely and humanely moving a colony of bees is quite fascinating. Geared up in protective bee suits, Linda and Chandra carefully and meticulously removed the temporary hives from the fence. One major factor in ensuring a successful move is to identify and seize the queen bee. The colony will follow the queen to a new hive, but without her, the colony’s chance of survival is dramatically decreased. The staff had to be especially careful to safely sequester the queen into a transport capsule. The capsule is designed to allow worker bees the ability to easily move into and out of the capsule but due to the queen’s size she remains in the capsule. The worker bees were then placed in a bucket and taken to the new hive. The bees were particularly docile during this process. They were always aware of the queen’s safe location and since they didn’t have any brood or honey in their temporary hive, there was no need to be defensive.

Removing Hive from Fence

Moving Bees

The queen and her colony were safely relocated to a new hive at the Friendly Farm. The queen remained in her capsule for a few days where she produced pheromones, or scents, that alerted the other bees to her location. Additionally, the worker bees displayed to the rest of the colony the location of the queen, so the entire colony could make their way to the hive. The display is fascinating to witness–worker bees point to the queen by raising their back sides with heads down, using their hind limbs and abdomen to point towards the queen.

Once our colony was safely placed in the new hive, they had to withstand the night’s cold temperatures. To accomplish this, the bees generated heat by collectively beating their wings while surrounding and protecting the queen. They took turns moving around to allow each bee the opportunity to get close to the center and stay warm. By working together, the colony survived the cold weather. The GSC is supplementing the hives with sugar water. This will help sustain the colony while they learn their new habitat and map out tracks to new sources of food.

New Hive

Native and European honeybees, as with many pollinators, are vital to our food system and the ecological stability of our planet. However, they have suffered significant declines of recent. These declines are largely from habitat loss, disease, an increase in pesticides and changes in our climate. The successful rescue of these hives provides the GSC an opportunity to safely conserve and sustain bee populations. Staff will continue to provide bee-friendly garden spaces on campus to support these invaluable creatures. Be sure to stop by the Friendly Farm during your next visit and take a moment to see our new honeybee hives!

Three Hives

Volunteer Spotlight: Jacob K.

At the Greensboro Science Center, we are honored to welcome approximately 750 volunteers each year, giving a cumulative 36,000+ hours of their time. With a friendly greeting and a warm smile, our volunteers help us carry out our mission each day, educating our visitors about our animals and exhibits and inspiring them to learn more.

This week, we’d like to introduce you to Jacob K. Jacob tells us:

I have had the pleasure of being a Greensboro Science Center Docent since the beginning of 2014. After I had just turned 16 years old, I came across an advertisement for the recently opened SciQuarium. After being reminded of the memories from when I had visited the Greensboro Science Center as a young child, I soon looked into the possibility of getting regularly involved with the GSC.

One thing led to another and I was thrilled to finally be given the opportunity to serve as a Greensboro Science Center Zoo Docent Volunteer. Two years later, I am still delighted to get to regularly work with Greensboro Science Center staff and interact with many of the visitors who share the same joy for animals, learning, and the environment.

Jacob K Being able to volunteer in a zoo like the one at the Greensboro Science Center has always been a dream of mine. As a young child, I was always looking for new ways to help spread the word of the importance of environmental stewardship. For this reason, I love being able to not only talk to visitors about the species at the zoo, but also inspire many of the young children about the importance of conserving their planet. Favorite exhibits of mine include some of the endangered species such as the Javan Gibbon and our Tigers.

Although I have loved each and every minute I spend volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center, I will inevitably have to bid farewell at the end of this summer as I prepare to start my freshman year of college at Emory University where I currently plan to double-major in Environmental Science and Business Management. Until then, I continue to look forward to serving my community at the Greensboro Science Center.

Spring Break at SKYWILD

SKYWILD Spider WebLooking for something new and exciting to do during spring break 2016? Take to the trees with a one-of-a-kind animal-inspired aerial adventure at SKYWILD! From Friday, March 25 through Sunday, April 3, SKYWILD will be open daily from 9am to 5pm to give you plenty of opportunities for adventure.

With challenges like a giant spider web to traverse, a slide that takes you over the zoo path, a cargo net to climb, and monkey bars, bridges and huge metal hoops to navigate through, SKYWILD is much more than just a zip line… although we have a few of those, too!


When you arrive, members of our Sky Patrol will show you how to use the equipment and give you a chance to test it out in Ground School. After that, it’s your chance to conquer the course!

Our course features three levels of intensity so you can design your own experience. Two easy courses, three intermediate courses and two advanced courses are available for you to choose from during your 2-hour adventure. Take on as many or as few as you’d like!

Want to know more about what to expect during your visit? Check out this short video.

Ready to go? Reserve your adventure online at http://www.skywild.org/.

Volunteer Spotlight: Janice M.

At the Greensboro Science Center, we are honored to welcome approximately 750 volunteers each year, giving a cumulative 36,000+ hours of their time. With a friendly greeting and a warm smile, our volunteers help us carry out our mission each day, educating our visitors about our animals and exhibits and inspiring them to learn more.

This week, we’d like to introduce you to Janice M. Janice says:

JaniceI started volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center shortly after moving to Greensboro two years ago. As a docent that is cross-trained, I volunteer both in the aquarium and the zoo at least once a week.

I have volunteered in each of the communities I’ve lived in, mostly in schools and programs that feed the hungry. I have always loved animals, and became a member at the local zoos as I moved. When I found out about the docent program at the GSC, I was thrilled to be able to combine my experience with children and my love of animals.

Once, while volunteering in the Herp Lab, a family came to try to help their young daughter get over her fear of snakes. She was afraid to even enter the lab at first. I showed her some of the herp residents through the window, then had her petting a turtle and by the end of her visit she was petting a snake. She was happy, her parents were grateful, and it was a very rewarding experience for me.

As a Tier 2 Docent, I love the opportunity to bring out animals for enrichment and education. Visitors love the opportunity to get a closer look at – and sometimes pet – the animals. I share interesting facts that I learn from the keepers as they work. This month, I learned that snakes can’t digest their food when the temperature falls below 72 degrees.

Saints, Snakes and Stout: A St. Patrick’s Day Post

Cotton Mouth 3O0A0908Do you know why one of Indiana Bones’ favorite vacation destinations is Ireland? Our resident paleontologist and ophidiophobic (snake phobia) loves Ireland because Ireland does not have any native snakes. Legend states St. Patrick, the Christian missionary, rid Ireland of all snakes in the fifth century. Upon being attacked by a slithering band of snakes he chased all of Ireland’s snakes to the sea1. While there is no doubt this is folklore, there is some truth to it. Ireland’s fossil records indicate snakes never inhabited the lush, verdant country. Researchers believe that Ireland was too cold for the reptiles during the Ice Age 10,000 years ago and with no land bridge to a neighboring country the legless species lacked the mobility to travel to Ireland2. The country did have a land bridge to England but it was overtaken by ocean long before snakes could make their way across. Sure, sea snakes could get there, but it would be too cold for their liking. While various mammal species made their way to Ireland in the past, their slithering counterparts in the animal kingdom did not make the journey.

Unlike Ireland we have many snake species in the Americas. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. From the bright green emerald tree boa, to the small worm snake these highly diverse animals fulfill a niche in our world.  With the ability to stealthily traverse on land, burrow through soil and sand and slither up trees, these ambush predators are key players in their community. They help maintain rodent, bat, frog and even other snake populations. Our native species are middle-order animals, meaning they are both prey to some animals and predators to others. They help to maintain a balance in the food web.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and in celebration of the green country we would like to spotlight the emerald tree boa.

Emerald Tree Boa 3O0A0984

The GSC is home to a young, male, emerald tree boa. This vibrantly colored, non-venomous snake is native to South America. There it can be found in lowland rainforests, typically resting in the trees above water. Their bright green color helps them blend into their lush leafy background and their white pattern mimics sunlight coming through the tree leaves. They are constrictors that prey on lizards, rodents and bats.

Ireland may be known for its lack of reptiles, but it is even more famous for its beverage of choice, beer, and more specifically, Irish stout! Legend even says St. Patrick had his own brewer. And we are all familiar with Ireland’s most famous brewery, Guinness, whose humble beginnings go back to Arthur Guinness3 in 1756.

Brews & BubblesThe Greensboro Science Center is uniting the preservation of species and hoppy beverages at our annual Brews & Bubbles. Join us on April 23rd for an evening of great beers, wines and ciders, yummy snacks, live entertainment and explore the GSC’s collection of critters. Not to worry, all snakes at the GSC are safely nestled in enclosures! But do take a moment to visit the Emerald Tree Boa and see just how majestic these specialized reptiles really are!


  1. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140315-saint-patricks-day-2014-snakes-ireland-nation/
  2. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080313-snakes-ireland_2.html
  3. http://guides.ie/blog/history-beer-ireland

Volunteer Spotlight: Ken T.

At the Greensboro Science Center, we are honored to welcome approximately 750 volunteers each year, giving a cumulative 36,000+ hours of their time. With a friendly greeting and a warm smile, our volunteers help us carry out our mission each day, educating our visitors about our animals and exhibits and inspiring them to learn more.

This week, we’d like to introduce you to Ken T. He says:

Ken TAs a retired high school social studies teacher of 36 years, being an educator is part of my DNA. I also believe that volunteering is an important way to give back to the community in which we live. Since moving to Greensboro from Syracuse, NY, almost eleven years ago, I have had a number of volunteering experiences including: the North Carolina Zoo, the Civil Rights Museum, the Greensboro Historical Museum, Reading Connections and the Greensboro Science Center. I have been most drawn to the Greensboro Science Center. I originally volunteered there in the zoo, but since 2013, I have been a volunteer in the aquarium section of the Center.

The GSC has provided a learning experience for me that is far different from my time teaching in a classroom. It has enabled and encouraged me to share my enthusiasm for learning “new things” with our visitors of all ages. Getting a not overly enthusiastic adult to touch a sting ray is as much fun as watching the kids do so, over and over again. That’s what true learning and discovery should be-interesting, informative, and fun. That is exactly why I enjoy volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center.

The staff and fellow volunteers are a terrific group of people. They want the GSC to be a success. They want the community to be proud of what the Center has to offer and will continue to offer as it grows and reinvents parts of itself. I am looking forward to continuing my volunteering.