About greensborosciencecenter

The Greensboro Science Center offers three fascinating attractions in one wild destination! We are the only facility in North Carolina that offers an aquarium, museum, and zoo. Spend the day with us and come nose to beak with playful penguins, get eye to eye with awesome otters, explore the human body, experience Mother Nature’s fury and fun, and encounter exotic animals like gibbons, meerkats, and lemurs!

Volunteer Spotlight: Rachel L.

Rachel L. has been a standout member of the Greensboro Science Center volunteer family since 2016. “I have been volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center for about four years, since I was thirteen. I started out as a Teacher’s Assistant for summer camps, which I have done every summer since. Then, I became an Exhibit Guide for a school year. Finally, once I turned fifteen,” she continued, “I became a Zoo Docent, and I am now cross-trained as an Aquarium Docent. I try to volunteer as much as I can, and try to do at least one shift every weekend, resulting in about 20 to 25 hours per month.”

RachelIt may be surprising that a teenager would voluntarily give so much of her free time to educate her community about science and conservation, but Rachel affirms her decision, stating, “I love volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center because working with people and animals is energizing. I finish every shift knowing that I’ve impacted several visitors’ experiences and that I might have told someone a cool fact that he or she wouldn’t have known otherwise. Education is important for conservation, and I thoroughly enjoy being able to spread information and conservation messages. I love seeing peoples’ expressions when I tell them surprising facts, like that Komodo dragons can eat animals as large as water buffaloes. It’s also fun seeing kids’ reactions when they’re finally able to touch a stingray in the touch tank, or when they’re face-to-face with an animal they had never seen before.”

Rachel has advanced into two of our upper level programs for Docents – the Animal Encounter Team and the Tier 2 program. In those roles, she is getting to work alongside our staff to learn how to prepare diets for our animals and to handle our ambassador animals in the zoo. Individuals who are interested in our advanced programs, like the Tier 2 program, must be active Docents who have volunteered in either our Aquarium or Zoo Docent programs for at least six months, exceeded the minimum monthly shift requirements, applied for the program, and interviewed with animal staff.

Here at the Greensboro Science Center, we enjoy being able to brag about our amazing volunteers, like Rachel, who dedicate their efforts to make a positive impact, not just within our organization, but in the community. Rachel shares, “I love being a part of an organization that’s so concerned with the welfare of animals and is so involved with research and conservation. I hope to continue to volunteer at the Greensboro Science Center as much as I can!”

We are happy to have Rachel with us again this summer for her fourth year as a Teacher’s Assistant. She is a great role model for our campers and an incredible helper to our teachers. Rachel has already volunteered almost 475 hours with us. We’re excited to present her with her 500-hour pin later this summer and even more excited she’s part of our volunteer family.

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Meredith D.

Meredith D. has been volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center for over a decade! When Meredith first became a volunteer in August of 2008, she spent her time in the area of the GSC that focused on enriching the experiences of our youngest guests. Meredith says, “I started out in the Kids’ Alley playroom for 6 months. Then, at the encouragement of our former Volunteer Coordinator, I signed up to cross-train and volunteer as a Docent in the Herp Lab and Zoo.”

As time went by and the GSC continued to expand, Meredith wanted to get more involved. She says, “After the SciQuarium (now Wiseman Aquarium) opened, I was cross-trained and worked in there, the Zoo and Herp Lab on alternate weekends. Now, I just volunteer in the Wiseman Aquarium, which has worked out really great.” As one of our most inquisitive Docents, Meredith has a passion for learning about the various animals and exhibits at the GSC so she can help educate the public.

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When thinking back on what drew her to the GSC, Meredith recalls, “I have always wanted to volunteer at the GSC, and I have always loved rocks and animals and kids.” Meredith found the transition from visitor to volunteer to be a smooth one, adding, “[The GSC] is a socially inviting place to work, which for me is important because I have autism and require accommodations and understanding from co-workers, which is very difficult to obtain in many ‘traditional’ work settings.”

Meredith’s success as an Aquarium Docent is a point of pride for both Meredith and the GSC’s Volunteer Department, as she took on the responsibilities of a volunteer knowing she would have to advocate for her needs and adapt to a constantly evolving organization. In turn, our staff have taken cues from Meredith to learn her needs and support her growth. We’ve been thrilled to see her journey at the GSC.

In the 10 years she has been volunteering, Meredith has been able to witness and be part of the changes at the GSC. In reminiscing on some of those changes, Meredith says, “I miss the rock and mineral gallery and some of the staff who have left.” Although not an exhibit at this time, the GSC is currently exploring options to exhibit rocks and minerals again! And, in thinking further back, Meredith remembers one of the funniest moments she’s encountered as a Docent. “A guest once told me that she thought the fur on the golden lion tamarins looked like Donald Trump’s hair.”

Although Meredith has faced some obstacles in her life that others have not, she has always committed to doing the best possible job at the GSC. She takes every shift seriously and strives to learn from each experience. Meredith still finds volunteering as fun and as rewarding as she did ten years ago: “I enjoy the people, the kids and the exhibits. And, having autism, it gives me the ability to have a set routine to benefit other people’s lives.”

We couldn’t be more grateful for Docents like Meredith, who strive every shift to not only enrich their own lives, but the lives of our guests. Meredith is nearing the 2,000-hour milestone as a volunteer at the GSC. Our team can’t wait to give her the button she’ll wear proudly when that day comes!

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Ken T.

An experienced and passionate educator, Ken T. has been volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center for over five years. In that time, he has contributed almost 600 hours of service.

“I volunteer in the Wiseman Aquarium a minimum of five times per month. Two of those times are in the food preparation section, and the other times are spent with visitors in the aquarium section – primarily at the stingray touch tank,” Ken says.

The diet preparation area Ken is referring to is an assignment volunteers in our Tier 2 program can help with. Individuals who are interested in our advanced programs, such as the Tier 2 program, must be active Docents who have volunteered in either our Aquarium or Zoo Docent programs for at least six months, exceeded the minimum monthly shift requirements, applied for the program, and interviewed with animal staff.

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No stranger to volunteering, Ken has spent numerous hours benefiting his community through helping other organizations. Ken mentions, “Since moving to Greensboro almost 14 years ago, I have volunteered at The North Carolina Zoo’s polar bear exhibit, the Civil Rights Museum, the Greensboro History Museum, and Reading Connections.”  

One thing guests will pick up on about Ken when speaking with him is his passion for education; his desire to share what he knows with others extends far beyond his volunteer experience.

When asked what drew him to volunteering at the GSC, Ken explains, “As a retired high school social studies teacher of thirty-six years, volunteering at the GSC provides many positive rewards. I’m still teaching in a field other than what I had taught in high school. This presents a mental challenge and I learn new things every time I volunteer.”

Apart from the specific area he is educating guests about, Ken says the people he interacts with often present a strong contrast to his teaching experience, adding, “I am working with all age groups – both in terms of fellow volunteers and visitors. That is also new and different from what I had done before. Interacting with people of different ages, diverse personal histories and experiences is both interesting and rewarding.”

Although Ken is retired, he knew his job wasn’t done when he hung up his teaching hat.

He says, “I believe that we all have a duty to give back to our communities in a positive way. I am fortunate to be able to do so in my retirement. That’s what makes volunteering fun and rewarding. I am giving back, which is rewarding, but I also have fun and continue learning while doing so.”

Here at the GSC, we are so proud of our volunteers, like Ken, who are determined to make a difference in the lives of our guests. Ken adds, “Having visitors, especially the ‘little guys,’ excitedly enjoy what they’re observing or partaking in is rewarding in and of itself as a volunteer.”

We couldn’t agree more. And we love seeing Ken pass that joy for teaching on to the new volunteers he mentors in the program. Ken’s got a great sense of humor and brings his trademark energy and enthusiasm to every shift. It’s contagious, and the GSC is so lucky to have him as part of our volunteer family.

 

Conservation Creation – iNaturalist + Monkey Madness

If you’ve been to the Greensboro Science Center or any other zoo or aquarium, you’ve probably seen many animals with a “Conservation Status” listed on their exhibit signage. These statuses range from ‘Extinct’ to ‘Least Concern.’ ‘Extinct’ means that there are either no more instances of that animal left in the wild, or that the ones remaining have no chance of reproducing. ‘Least Concern’ means that this animal is abundant in the wild and that there are currently no concerns revolving around its population numbers. Scientists have many ways of determining how many animals of a species exist in the wild – methods ranging from recording calls in the forest or tagging animals in the ocean to be tracked with innovative technology.

While these methods can give us an idea of what animal populations look like, there are many situations in which a population doesn’t fit into a specific category. For example, you may see an animal that is listed as ‘Data Deficient.’ This means there isn’t enough information to determine what their population realistically looks like. This applies to many ocean animals, since they can be difficult to track due to the ocean’s vastness. There are other instances where an animal can be listed as ‘Least Concern’ overall, but still be vulnerable in certain areas. This is why it’s important to be mindful of wildlife when you encounter it, regardless of an animal’s conservation status.

Now, for an activity! This month, instead of a craft, we’ll be sending you on an adventure! All you will need is a smartphone or tablet and the spirit of a biologist. Start by downloading the app, iNaturalist. This is a free app for Apple and Android that will allow you to track local wildlife and help scientists learn about the animal populations near you! Learn more about the app by visiting inaturalist.org.

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Once you have downloaded the app, you can begin your adventure! You’ll be taking photos of the plants and animals you find. If you already know what you’re looking at, you can identify it yourself on the app. If you don’t know what you’ve found, however, other users of the app can help you figure out what it is.

By participating, you’ll be helping scientists to learn about the plants and animals near you, giving them insight on what needs to be done to help and protect these beings. You can use iNaturalist anywhere you go – including your home, a vacation spot or one of Greensboro’s beautiful parks. Now… break out your safari hat and begin your journey as a Citizen Scientist!

Want more conservation? Get hands-on at the GSC! During July 2019, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 & 2:30, join our educators at the howler monkey exhibit to learn about these monkeys and how they’re being affected by habitat loss. While there, you can make a seed bomb – made from seeds of local plants – to take home to enrich your local wildlife habitats! 

Greensboro Science Center Celebrates Shark Week

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The Greensboro Science Center (GSC) is celebrating alongside the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week from Monday, July 29 – Saturday, August 3 with crafts, education stations and games from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. daily. In addition to ongoing activities, including coloring pages, temporary tattoos and shark-shaped bubbles, each day of the week will be themed around a unique educational opportunity. Daily themes are as follows:

Monday, July 29
Munch, Munch Monday
Learn what sharks like to eat and how they snag their snacks!

Tuesday, July 30
Toothful Tuesday
Test your shark smarts with a round of “Myth or Tooth” trivia!

Wednesday, July 31
Wonders Wednesday
Explore sharks’ superpowers – like their ability to detect electricity!

Thursday, August 1
Thoughtful Thursday
Discover the importance of shark conservation. Why do we need sharks, and how can we help them?

Friday, August 2
Freaky Friday
Learn about the strangest and most unusual sharks in the sea!

Saturday, August 3
Supreme Saturday
Find out which sharks are the biggest, fastest, oldest, and more!

Shark Week activities are free with general admission or GSC membership. General admission is $14.50 for adults ages 14 – 64, $13.50 for children ages 3 – 13, and $13.50 for seniors ages 65+. Children 2 and under are free.

The GSC’s Shark Week celebration is sponsored by Fins Car Wash. “We are so excited to be joining the beautiful Greensboro community and are thrilled to be partnering with the Greensboro Science Center right before our two area locations open for business,” says Greg Ries, Vice President of Fins Car Wash. “Our mascot, Fin the Shark, can’t wait to meet new customers and join in on all the Shark Week fun.”

Sharks have been selected by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) as a signature species for SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction). SAFE focuses the collective expertise of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to save signature species by increasing direct conservation spending as well as increasing work in the field and within zoos and aquariums, and through public engagement. Shark Week is one example of the GSC’s involvement in this vital conservation effort.

Volunteer Spotlight: Nancy and Paul S.

Here at the Greensboro Science Center, we love to celebrate the stories of the individuals who are part of our volunteer family. This spotlight is a little different because it’s about one of our dynamic couples – Paul and Nancy S.

Nancy explains, “I have been volunteering since early 2015. After I retired, I ran into a former student who told me about volunteering for the BODIES REVEALED exhibit. I thought it’d be interesting and would be a nice way to start volunteering. Then I trained to become an Aquarium Docent.”

Her husband, Paul, on the other hand, became involved in early 2018. “My wife had shown me how rewarding and interesting volunteering at the GSC could be, so after I retired, I volunteered to be a Zoo Docent.”

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It might be striking to many that a couple would volunteer in two separate areas, one in the aquarium and the other in the zoo, but this tag team is happy with the arrangement and, unarguably, covers more ground by doing so! Both say that they have found fulfillment in their respective roles. Nancy explained, “My reward and fun come from the kids, their comments and joy, and what they share with me about the exhibits. Many have amazing insights or thoughtful, curious questions. I learn something new every time I volunteer.”

“I agree with what Nancy said,” Paul replied, adding, “I’ve enjoyed getting to know our animals as individuals with distinctive personalities and relationships.”

When asked about their meaningful or funny experiences while volunteering, Paul said, “One morning in the Herpetarium, the larger snakes seemed especially active, and after looking around, a little girl about 4 years old took her mom’s hand and said, very calmly, politely, and firmly, ‘Mommy, may we PLEASE leave this room NOW?’ Her mother agreed, and they left to enjoy other areas of the Greensboro Science Center.”

Nancy has her own memorable experience. “One of my most meaningful memories is the moment when I was watching the octopus and suddenly became so aware of what a fantastic creature he was. My interest was piqued, and I soon began to acquire a small library of books on octopuses.”

Since 2015, Nancy and Paul have dedicated almost 400 hours of their time to this organization. We love seeing their love for one another and for the GSC!

 

Volunteer Spotlight – Linda W.

Linda W. has been a dedicated volunteer with the Greensboro Science Center since October of 2016. She got her start in the Zoo Docent program, and by the fall of 2017, Linda was adding to her range of experiences. “In addition to being a Zoo Docent, I am also a Tier 2 Docent. This allows me to work with Keeper Carolyn in the Discovery House in animal husbandry, as well as to participate on two socialization teams. I also mentor new members and am a current Animal Encounter Team member,” Linda says.

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With a wide variety of roles to choose from, Linda is quite the regular at the GSC. “Depending on my schedule, I try to volunteer twice a week — sometimes more.” With that additional time, Linda has pursued advanced programs with us. Individuals who are interested in our advanced programs must be active Docents who have volunteered with either our Aquarium or Zoo Docent programs for at least six months and have exceeded their shift minimums. Linda applied and interviewed for each program before being chosen.

A native of Lubbock, Texas, Linda recalls how she became so involved at the GSC. “A few years ago, when I worked in Greensboro, I discovered the GSC and would visit during my lunch hour, just to ‘de-stress’ and enjoy all of the exhibits and animals. I was so impressed with the passion and knowledge of the Docents and their enthusiasm about the Greensboro Science Center that I knew at some point, I wanted to become a volunteer.” Since then, Linda has accrued over 340 volunteer hours at the GSC.

When asked what Linda appreciates about our volunteer program, she stated, “It is amazing and geared to all individuals, regardless of age or background. The flexibility to create your own schedule allows each volunteer to commit to just the basic requirement or to take it to the next level and beyond, depending on the areas that excite and interest you.”

Although Linda has progressed to where she gets to spend time behind the scenes of the GSC, she still finds the core reasons for volunteering satisfying and fun. She says, “Engaging with the public during my Docent shift is especially rewarding. I have met people from several different states and countries and even got to try out my limited Norwegian vocabulary with some children from Oslo.”

In reflecting on her time in the Volunteer Program, Linda mentions, “I can honestly say that I have never encountered such a ‘welcoming’ facility and group of people where all staff members are eager to make you a success in your volunteer endeavor.”

For us here at the GSC, we are proud of and grateful for our volunteers, like Linda, who dedicate so much of their personal time to the education of our community and conservation of our world. Linda adds, “Looking back on the short two years I have been volunteering at the GSC, it is a certainty that I have benefited much more in relation to the time I give each month.”