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In a time when many organizations are doing more with less, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher recently celebrated a group of dedicated individuals who set records for giving more than ever before. The Aquarium recently hosted the annual Volunteer Appreciation and Awards Dinner for hundreds of individuals who selflessly assist with Aquarium operations on a daily basis. 

In 2015, 591 Aquarium volunteers, ages 9 to 85, donated 32,401 hours, a record for both volunteers and donated hours. Jo Wainwright won the top honor of 2015 Volunteer of the Year. Wainwright, a Wilmington resident, volunteered 271 hours in multiple areas, including Education, Special Events and Special Activities. She is a fixture at annual special events like Trick or Treat Under the Sea and Santa by the Sea. She also puts her skills as a former teacher to good use assisting with Aquarium summer camps. 

“From training newer volunteers to covering education programs, assisting with summer camps to playing Mrs. Claus, Miss Jo does it all,” said Volunteer Coordinator Dan Radley. 

Bart Del Valle of Wilmington was also recognized for contributing the most individual volunteer hours in 2015, with 605 hours (and 17 minutes). Del Valle gives of his time in the Education, Aquariology, Outreach and Special Events departments.

“Volunteers are part of the tremendous fabric of our Aquarium Team,” said Aquarium Director Peggy Sloan. “Their commitment, dedication and enthusiasm help achieve our mission and create an unparalleled experience for our visitors.” 


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