Greensboro Science Center Vet Technician Responds to Flamingo Crisis

In May, the Greensboro Science Center’s (GSC) Veterinary Technician, Sam Beasley, spent two weeks in Kimberley, South Africa, assisting with a flamingo crisis thanks to the GSC’s Conservation & Research Grant Program.

In January, the Kamfers Dam began drying up. As adult flamingos followed the dwindling water source, they left hundreds of eggs and hatchlings exposed to the elements. Through funding made available by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), locals in Kimberely South Africa built a large pen, complete with a makeshift dam, at the local SPCA where the abandoned hatchlings could be rehabilitated, then released.

Beasley, who was originally scheduled to use her grant money to assist with a sea turtle project, changed her plans to respond to this more urgent crisis.

Sam and Flamingo

Beasley says her day began at 7:45 each morning. She, local volunteers in Kimberley and a fellow volunteer from the GSC were responsible for feeding 600+ birds four times each day and misting them 3 times per day. In addition, they maintained water quality by conducting regular water changes on the dam and smaller pools, performed grounds maintenance both inside and outside of the pen and administered any daily medications.

The birds were primarily fed a flamingo red feed, in addition to duck pellets, dog food and additional supplements. Unfortunately, the flamingo red feed’s consistency had begun building residue on the bird’s beaks and feathers, at which time volunteers were instructed to begin cleaning all birds individually.  Manually removing the residue from the bills and bathing the birds occupied much of her time on site. Beasley says the sheer number of birds and the limited resources available made the situation extremely challenging. With one hose and no hot water on site, it took between 45-minutes and one hour to bathe just one bird.

The hard work did pay off when Beasley assisted in the release of 110 of those 600+ birds during her last two days in South Africa.

“I would do it over again any day of the week,” Beasley says. Thanks to her time spent in South Africa, she says she knows more about flamingos now than she could have ever hoped, which will be extremely beneficial when the GSC exhibits these birds in its Revolution Ridge zoo expansion (expected to be complete in 2020).

Why We GSC: Featuring Sarah H.

Meet Sarah H., the GSC’s Curator of Aquatics. Her job is to help develop a vision for the department and ensure that the Aquatics team has the tools and knowledge they need to accomplish their jobs.


Sarah’s story is an especially interesting one. She worked here for a short while about six years ago, then left for five years – but ultimately decided to come back. When we asked her what drew her to return, she had this to say:

I’ve been very fortunate to work at three different facilities and even luckier to find a place I can call home.

After six years in the aquarium field, I was looking for a challenge. The idea of helping the Greensboro Science Center bring a bit of the ocean to a landlocked city seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Shortly after helping to open the GSC’s aquarium back in 2013, I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work at a world-renowned facility – an opportunity that, had I turned it down, I would have wondered about it the rest of my life. So I made the difficult decision to leave the GSC to reach for a dream.

However, I found I missed those intangibles that made the GSC feel less like work and more like home. After five years away, I made a much easier decision to come back to the opportunities that awaited me here.

I am proud to be a member of the Greensboro Science Center family and am excited to create a new dream with Greensboro’s only public aquarium.

Living the Mission: GSC Staff Awarded Conservation & Research Grants

This year, the Greensboro Science Center provided staff a brand new opportunity to apply for what is known as the Conservation and Research Grant. This annual grant offers GSC staff the opportunity to pursue a conservation or research project. Eligible proposals can range from pursing a professional development opportunity, facilitating an existing field project (like mussel surveys or bat acoustic work), creating a conservation project (like a stream clean-up or butterfly garden), or taking on a new research question. After undergoing an extensive assessment by our staff Research Committee, this year’s recipients have been announced.

Shannon Anderson, Zoo Keeper: SANCCOB’s Keeper Exchange Program

Penguin DivingShannon will travel to South Africa to work with SANCCOB staff to refine her skills in bird care and chick rearing; Shannon’s knowledge and passion for penguins led her to pursue this program. On this trip, she’ll have the opportunity to work with field biologists, conservationists and sea bird specialists to expand her knowledge and will share her experience with staff at a presentation following her time in South Africa.

Rachel Rogers, Aquarist: Mote Marine Coral Restoration Workshop

coral 02Rachel, the GSC’s coral aquarist, has a passion for propagating and conserving coral species. At the workshop, she’ll learn the micro-fragmenting techniques used to propagate staghorn and elkhorn corals. She will also visit coral nurseries in the Florida Keys to gain knowledge on the best methods for growing and reproducing coral. She, too, will share her experience with staff at a presentation following the workshop.

Sam Beasley, Vet Tech: Sea Turtle Care Center at the South Carolina Aquarium

Sam Beasly | 36 | EditSam works alongside veterinarian Dr. Sam Young to care for the animals in our collection. Sam has a lifelong passion for turtles and rehabilitation of sea turtles. She will work with the vets and technicians at the Sea Turtle Care Center to rehabilitate sea turtles and care for injured turtles. There, she will learn new skills and receive hands-on training that will benefit her vet career. Sam will also be sharing with staff her experience when she returns.

We’re thrilled to have a team of staff who supports our mission of conservation by putting the “hands” in “hands-on.” Return to our blog in the near future for updates on the good works these team members will be doing!

Kelli Crawford Receives 2016 Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service

By Kelli Crawford, Resource Manager of Volunteers and Collections at the Greensboro Science Center

On Monday, July 25, I traveled to Raleigh to receive the Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service.  It was an incredibly humbling experience, even more so because it came as a result of the support I’ve received from the Volunteer Center of Greensboro, the Greensboro Science Center, and our outstanding volunteers.

Kelli with Governor’s Medallion Award Recipients

With my husband, parents and brother watching, I sat in the capitol building surrounded by some truly incredible volunteers.  As I listened to excerpts from their nominations, I recognized in those twenty volunteers many of the qualities I’ve seen in the volunteers who dedicate their time to the Greensboro Science Center.  These selfless individuals serve their organizations not for an award, but because they believe in the mission and want to be a vital part of helping that organization achieve it.  That’s true of our volunteers as well.

The ceremony gave me the opportunity to meet Governor Pat McCrory for a short time before he had to head out for a speaking engagement.  In his place, Susan Kluttz, the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, actually gave each of us our medals.  They recognized 21 volunteers total in the following categories:  Senior, Youth, Mentor, Group/Team, Lifetime Achievement, Faith-Based, Disaster, Corporate/Business, Perseverance in Volunteerism, and Director of Volunteers.

Kelli and Susan Kluttz

Just as each of our volunteers does not serve to be recognized, I don’t do this job with that in mind.   I do it because I truly believe in the difference one individual can make in their community.  Our volunteers have shown me that.  Yet with recognition comes positive growth for our program.  In the past few years, we’ve been fortunate to have one of our own, Jim Blalock, win the award for Individual Volunteer of the Year in 2014 for Guilford County.  Our program was recognized as Non-Profit Volunteer Program of the Year in 2015 for Guilford County.  This most recent statewide recognition may be in my name, but it is truly a reflection of the hard work of the volunteers I am blessed to lead and learn from every day.

I often tell our volunteers that they are the face of the Greensboro Science Center.  They’re out on the floor engaging with our visitors on a daily basis.  They’re the ones who get to tell a visitor everything they want to know about that favorite Javan gibbon – his or her name, age, diet, personality quirks, likes and dislikes.  Those conversations can ignite an awareness of that species as a whole.  That’s the fun pa

rt and the part that really gets to the core of our mission.  Yet they’re also the people who may be tasked with telling a visitor that their favorite animal has passed away.  Seeing the care and concern they display in such difficult times makes me incredibly proud.  There are unique perks to being a volunteer at a facility like ours, but it’s not always easy.  The grace they exemplify, their constant desire to improve, to gain knowledge and to serve is inspiring.

I want to thank all of our volunteers for their selfless service, their dedication to conservation and education, and their implicit trust that my team and I are working hard each day for their benefit.  We want them to enter our doors knowing that they’ve got the resources they need to make a difference and leave them knowing that they did.  They make us proud every day.  I’m incredibly honored to have represented all of them in Raleigh and look forward to continuing to work with them to Volunteer.  Educate.  Inspire.

Kelli with Family

Greensboro Science Center Volunteer Program Logo