Since 2013, the volunteer program at the Greensboro Science Center has grown by 43%: from 579 volunteers in 2013 to 830 in 2016! That growth necessitates changes to ensure a more positive experience for our volunteers. A new change is coming to the volunteer program which will allow us to better serve the volunteers who participate in the program as well as the visitors who benefit from it.
The Center has traditionally operated three summer volunteer programs: Animal Ambassadors, Exhibit Guides, and Teacher’s Assistants. Starting in Summer 2018, the Center will operate one summer-only program, the Teacher’s Assistant program. This program will continue to serve 75 teens each year, with recruitment starting in March. As always, returning Teacher’s Assistants will be given first priority to gain admission into the program. Any remaining spots will be filled with new candidates who apply and interview. That program will start in June and continue through the month of August.
You may be wondering what that means for our Animal Ambassador and Exhibit Guide programs. At the end of this summer, the two programs will merge to create one new program: Museum Ambassadors. The upcoming Museum Ambassador program will combine the best of the two existing programs, with input from current teens about the areas in which they most enjoy volunteering. This new program will operate year-round, requiring candidates to make a 6 month commitment in order to participate—just as Zoo and Aquarium Docents do currently. In making this commitment, these teens will benefit from increased exposure to our daily operations as well as continued mentoring from Zoo and Aquarium Docents. Eventually, they will take on the role of mentor themselves as new volunteers join the program.
So what will Museum Ambassadors actually do? These teens will rotate through different exhibits, likely to include Friendly Farm, the Aquarium Touch Tank, Destination Dinosaur (and later Prehistoric Passages), Jeansboro, SciPlay Bay, Health Quest, a cart in the Herpetarium, and Coins for Conservation (a favorite of many of this summer’s teens). Teens will be volunteering on their own as well as alongside other Museum Ambassadors or Docents. The program will operate on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the school year, as well as on Guilford County Schools workdays and during breaks and holidays. Museum Ambassadors will complete two, three hour shifts per month. Shift times are 9:45-1:00 and 12:45-4:00.
The implementation of the Museum Ambassador program is a big change, but one that we feel will be highly positive for our volunteers and our organization. The target age for Museum Ambassadors is 13-17, meaning that 13- and 14-year-olds will now have three, as opposed to only one*, opportunity to join the Center’s volunteer program. This change also means that Museum Ambassadors will benefit from smaller training classes in which they’ll receive more individualized attention as opposed to our current summer on-boarding frenzy during which 200 teens join the volunteer program at once.
The Museum Ambassador program will launch in September with a maximum of 55 teens from Summer 2017. Following a few months of running the new program with current teens, the first new recruitment will take place in January 2018, with a training class scheduled for March. Those volunteers will make a six-month commitment of March through August. Another training class is slated for July, with recruitment beginning in May; their six-month commitment will be July through January. Current teens will be given first priority for training classes, as we understand that some of them may be unable to continue this fall due to sports or extracurricular activities.
Our teen program exists to develop young leaders, with an emphasis on science and conservation. This new Museum Ambassador program is a great next step in continuing to provide those opportunities.
Please direct any questions or concerns to GSC Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Crawford, firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The Docent program will continue to operate year round, with openings for candidates who are at least 15 years old.