Being a youth volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium recently got even more rewarding: participants now have the opportunity to earn college credit through a new “badging” program developed by Aquarium youth engagement staff and volunteers in collaboration with researchers and faculty from University of Washington Bothell.
Badges are offered in several categories, and participants must complete a variety of activities to earn each category’s badge. When all three badges have been earned, participants are awarded with a Youth Ocean Advocates badge, recognizing the knowledge, skills and behaviors that have prepared them to be lifelong ocean advocates. The cherry on top? They can also earn five college credits through the University of Washington (UW) Bothell’s “Introduction to Marine Life” course.
Youth Ocean Advocate and aspiring marine biologist Aiyana Blas-Rojas is one of the first volunteers to earn college credit for her work. “Badging helps people like me pursue a career in marine science,” she says. “It gives us free college credit that we’ve earned by learning and working avidly at the Aquarium. It makes the path toward college more focused and within reach.”
She continues, “The reason why I work so hard on badging and exploring different opportunities at the Aquarium is because of my deeply rooted passion for the ocean. I want to research it, be around it, preserve it, and share that love with others.”
Comments Youth Engagement Coordinator Dave Glenn, “We were really excited to add this element to our Youth Ocean Advocates program. And, because we recognize that learning and action never end, we aim to continue adding badges to the program in the future.”