Special thanks from a teen volunteer
Each year, over 200 teens participate in our high school volunteer program. This year’s group includes Becky Shelton, who has given more than 200 hours of service to the Seattle Aquarium. This month, we asked Becky to share her thoughts about her experiences and the impact they’ve had on her.
There are few moments that we experience which entirely change our life’s direction. A year ago I was sitting on the edge of my bed, holding my breath, when I read an email that said I’d been accepted into the Seattle Aquarium’s high school volunteer program. That was one of those rare moments. I may not have known it then, but in retrospect my time volunteering has shaped my perspective and influenced my aspirations.
I have come to a point where sea otters aren’t just fuzzy—they have half a million to a million hairs per square inch depending on the part of their body. And octopuses aren’t just squishy—the only hard part of their body is the beak. My time at the Aquarium has helped me see beyond surface observations.
Before I began volunteering, I was fairly set on pursuing a career in visual art. I toured college art departments and glanced over the biology buildings. Now I can tell you all the schools I’m applying to I chose for their specialty in biological and environmental sciences. I want to change the way people and the species living around them co-exist. This is why I’d like to work in the field of conservation policymaking.
On the behalf of all the teen volunteers, I would like to thank the donors who believe in engaging youth with science. This is just one of many stories about how volunteering has shaped our lives, and it wouldn’t be possible without you. Thank you.
Q & A with Jeff Renner
You may not know it, but KING 5 Chief Meteorologist Jeff Renner likes to scuba dive in his spare time—and appears as “Diving Santa” in our Window on Washington Waters exhibit during the holiday season. He also has a deep appreciation for Puget Sound and our marine environment, one that he shares as the moderator of our Sound Conversations speaker series. We’re grateful for our long friendship with Jeff, and think you’ll enjoy getting to know him a bit in the interview below.
Q: When did you first get involved with the Aquarium?
A: Years and years ago. When I moved to Seattle, I did a documentary about what lies below Puget Sound and partnered with the Aquarium to get some of the information I needed.
Q: When did you first start diving?
A: In 1973, when I was living in Wisconsin. Outside of a few tropical vacations, I mainly dived there until I moved to Seattle in 1977. On one of my first outings, in the late winter or early spring, I looked into the water and saw plumose anemones. I remember thinking how amazing it would be to see what was down there.
Q: What role do you feel the Aquarium plays in our community?
A: When I was in Wisconsin I had the chance to interview Jacques Cousteau. One thing he said was that people don't care about what they don't know. Most people don't dive, so they need another avenue to develop an attachment to what’s below the water. The Aquarium allows people to get a sense of a world that they don't know anything about. They develop a connection and learn how they are part of a larger ecosystem.
Q: What’s your favorite animal at the Seattle Aquarium?
A: It’s a tie between the giant Pacific octopus and the wolf eel.
All in the family: three generations of volunteers
The Seattle Aquarium is lucky to have over 1,000 volunteers engaging youth, teens and adults in marine science education programs each year. This month, you’ll hear from volunteers Bruce Semple and Sigrid Llewellyn, writing about the three generations of their family currently donating their time to the Aquarium.
Retirement, a friend warned me, was accepting that every day is like a Sunday. While Sundays are wonderful days of recuperation for busy people, an endless succession of them can become a disincentive to a vigorous pursuit of stimulating new experiences. So when my wife Sigrid discovered the possibility of volunteering at the Aquarium, we reached for it. For me, it matched my biological training and a lifelong interest in sea life and nature, and it gave her an opportunity to learn a new field of scientific endeavor in a supportive and enthusiastic group.
We soon came to appreciate the rare opportunity provided at the Aquarium to learn and to be enriched by the interaction with both adults and children when interpreting the myriad wonders of marine biology. As a bonus, we have come to appreciate the opportunities available to share with people our concern over the growing threats to our environment from pollution, global warming and ocean acidification.
So when my son Nigel recently moved to Seattle, his similar interests made it easy for him to accept the challenge of volunteering here and he is thriving on it. My granddaughter Mackenzie was also easily hooked into the valuable learning and sharing experience provided by the high school volunteer program. So now we have three generations dedicated to the Aquarium and its goals—all having fun.
Holiday fun at the Seattle Aquarium
The Seattle Aquarium is the place to be this holiday season, with plenty of festive fun and activities for the entire family. Join us!
Saturdays and Sundays at noon and 3pm through December 23
Did you know that when Santa isn’t supervising elves and delivering toys, he loves to scuba dive? Come see for yourself when he dives in our Window on Washington Waters exhibit this holiday season. Remember, City of Seattle parking is free on Sundays!
December 28–January 5
Here’s the perfect way to stay dry and enjoy some family time during the holiday school break. Join us for hands-on activities, special talks and opportunities to learn more about the Aquarium’s fish, birds, tide pool creatures and marine mammals.
The Aquarium will be open on Christmas Eve, December 24, from 9:30am to 3pm; exhibits will close at 4pm. We will be closed on Christmas Day, December 25. Happy holidays from all of us at the Seattle Aquarium!
Seawall to be rebuilt—thank you, Seattle voters!
Thank you! On November 6, Seattle voters overwhelming approved Proposition 1, the $290 million bond measure to rebuild the deteriorated seawall that runs along the city’s central waterfront. This is fantastic news for the City of Seattle, the Puget Sound region and the Seattle Aquarium as well.
Rebuilding the seawall is not only essential to ensure the safety and stability of Seattle’s central waterfront and our facility; it’s also the first crucial step in the planned transformation of the waterfront, in which the Seattle Aquarium has been affirmed as a key element.
The passage of Proposition 1 brings another benefit to the Aquarium: because of this affirmative vote, the City’s elected leaders have been willing to fund the next steps in waterfront planning, including providing half of the funding that will enable us to undertake our master planning process. Throughout 2013 and 2014, we will plan for the future expansion, growth and development that could double our physical size, increase attendance to as much as 1.5 million visitors per year—and realize our vision to become a true regional landmark and world-class aquarium. With our master plan complete, we will be ready to turn our plans into more concrete actions starting in 2016 when the viaduct comes down and the real work of the waterfront redevelopment begins.
The Aquarium and Seattle’s central waterfront are entering an era of tremendously exciting growth and change, and it all starts with the replacement of the seawall. Thank you again for voting to approve Proposition 1!
A message from our President & CEO
Aquarium Board Chair Terry McLaughlin will complete his term at the end of December, when Chair-elect Jim Gurke will assume Board leadership duties. We all owe a deep debt of gratitude to both for their dedicated service and leadership.
McLaughlin first joined the Aquarium Society Board in 2000 when there were big plans afoot during the dot.com boom to build an entirely new $250 million aquarium on the waterfront. He brought long experience with the City of Seattle as Deputy Director of Seattle Center, supervising the public/private negotiations resulting in the Key Arena renovation, and then business experience as Executive Vice President of the Seattle Sonics/Storm organization.
During his time on the Aquarium Board McLaughlin has chaired the Finance Committee and served as Treasurer and a member of the Executive Committee. He co-chaired the Transition Team negotiations with the City and the Transition Implementation Team leading to the transition to nonprofit management in 2010.
Jim Gurke joined the Board in 2005, chairs the Compensation Committee, the 403B Committee and serves on the Executive Committee. He served on the Transition Implementation Committee with McLaughlin. Gurke is Senior Vice President of Marketing for Getty Images and previously served as Vice President of Educational Sales and Marketing for Encyclopaedia Britannica in Chicago.