Volunteer Dive Program

The divers you see in our Shark Reef exhibit are staff members and volunteers with two things in common: they’re certified SCUBA divers and they’ve passed our rigorous assessment process.

Becoming a volunteer diver in our aquarium is a multi-step process. First, you must already be a certified SCUBA diver. You must also complete a dive physical and become CPR/AED certified.

Certified SCUBA divers interested in joining our dive program are encouraged to come to our informational meeting January 30, 2020 from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. to learn more about the program. After attending this meeting, prospective volunteers must fill out an online application. If selected, candidates will participate in an interview with our volunteer program manager, aquarium curator, and dive safety officer.

Divers who pass the interview must then participate in a skills evaluation at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. During this evaluation, our team will gauge participants’ comfort in the water as well as their fitness level. Skills are based on the standards set forth in our Dive Safety Manual (which is based on OSHA standards for commercial diver). The evaluation includes:

  1. A 400-meter swim (16 laps!)
  2. Towing a buddy 25 meters across the pool, unaided
  3. Retrieving a 10-pound weight from the bottom of the pool
  4. Treading water for 10 minutes
  5. Swimming underwater for 25 yards on one breath

Dive-Skills-Evaluation

After the skills evaluation, seven modules of classroom work are required before participants can actually get into the water for a checkout dive in our Shark Reef exhibit’s acclimation pool. During the checkout dive, divers will get comfortable in the water, check weights and practice emergency situations in a safe, controlled environment.

Dive-Checkout-Dive

Once comfortable with our equipment, divers will participate in a double dive in our 90,000-gallon Shark Reef exhibit. During this session, the volunteer will receive orientation and learn the rules of the road when it comes to working around animals before joining our dive safety officer in the water. Using a microphone system that enables the pair to communicate, the diver will have the opportunity to ask questions during this experience. This step can be repeated multiple times until the diver feels confident.

Dive-Skills-DoubleDive

At last, it’s time for the diver to enter the tank solo! The first time this occurs, the diver’s microphone is not active for communication with our guests. This enables the diver to focus on the task at hand. Solo dives can also be repeated until the diver is comfortable. Then, he or she can participate in the educational dive talk and communicate with our guests about the experience!

Dive-Solo-Dive

During each dive, a GSC staff member is stationed at the top of the exhibit. This person’s role is to control diver’s air, monitor time, ensure no lines are tangled, stay alert for any animal movements, and be an extra set of eyes for the diver. He or she is in constant communication with the diver. In addition, a member of our education team is in front of the tank when a diver is in the water to act as yet another extra set of eyes as well as provide information to our guests!

We are currently looking for 4 – 5 divers to join our program. If interested, please join us on January 30, 2020 from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. to learn more!

Volunteer Spotlight: Marcia R.

Marcia R. has dedicated her time volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center for over four years. Over that time, Marcia has been trained in multiple programs.

“[I] work in the Zoo and Aquatic areas at least twice a month,” she says. Individuals who are interested in volunteering in more than one program must be active Docents who have volunteered with either our Aquarium or Zoo Docent programs for at least six months. After that time, they have the opportunity to attend the training class for the opposite program.

Marcia may have been a new volunteer to the GSC in 2014, but she had plenty of experience volunteering at another facility. Marcia explains, “Prior to living in Greensboro, I resided in Maryland and worked at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (in Washington, DC) in the Entomology Department with numerous types of insects.”

Marcia R Volunteer DSC_5440

She may have had to switch gears a bit when she started volunteering at the GSC, but Marcia gained skills at the Smithsonian that have since benefited her here, adding, “While at the museum, I gave lectures on insects to groups of visitors from around the world. I loved working with the animals and visitors!”  

Since public speaking and interaction is such a big part of volunteering at the GSC, we’re especially grateful for the skills Marcia acquired at the Smithsonian.

Beyond public speaking and interaction, education and inspiration are two other key aspects to volunteering at the GSC. Our volunteers, like Marcia, have a strong desire to share knowledge while also instilling a passion for our natural world in our guests.

Marcia says, “While working at [the] GSC, I attempt to seek out visitors’ questions concerning the animal they are viewing, and hopefully [they] will continue searching for additional animal information after their visit.”

In reflecting on her four years at the GSC, Marcia recalls, “I was most fortunate to transfer my interests over to [the] GSC and to be a part of their ‘Outstanding Volunteer Program’!”  

We couldn’t agree more. As for us, we would not be able to do any of this if not for our volunteers, who commit so much of their time to the education of our community and conservation of our world.  Marcia has volunteered almost 450 hours at GSC, and we are proud to have her as part of our volunteer family.

 

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.