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.
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!