N.C. Aquarium Honors Volunteers of 2017 (3-9-18)

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N.C. Aquarium Honors Volunteers of 2017 (3-9-18)

PINE KNOLL SHORES, N.C. – North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores recognized the heroes who make it possible to open its doors daily. Last year, 260 volunteers provided more than 19,568 hours of service, and although there is a significant range in ages and their backgrounds are almost as varied, these volunteers’ dedication to the Aquarium’s mission is the same. They dive during public programs, interact with visitors at the education carts, help staff prepare food for animals and dedicate time and skills in many other areas daily.

             “We wouldn’t be the Aquarium we are today without our volunteers. They give their time and heart to make a difference in the Aquarium and in the lives of our visitors,” said Aly Mack, Aquarium volunteer coordinator.

            In 2017 there were 179 adult volunteers, 46 dive volunteers and 35 junior volunteers which include 10 teens that participate in the newly formed, year-round, junior volunteer program.

            Every day volunteers provide visitors with assistance at the information desk, as exhibit interpreters and at the two touch pools. They also help set up for birthday parties, help with special events and facilitate activities in our two classrooms.  

Volunteer divers not only assist with daily educational dive programs, they also perform maintenance tasks like cleaning habitat walls and windows. The volunteer divers performed a total of 1,509 dives and 4,126 individual dives, which equaled 1,549 hours and 9 minutes of dive time last year.

            “Their commitment and service is always amazing to me,” said Ethan Simmons, Aquarium dive safety officer. “It’s an honor to work with such a dedicated group of people.”

            A few members of the volunteer force received special recognition. The “2017 Volunteer of the Year” award for outstanding volunteer service went to Cyndy Lindsay of Peletier. The “2017 Hatchling Award” went to Donna Fountain of Pine Knoll Shores, Kay Brackins of Atlantic Beach and Charles Bednar of Swansboro. The “2017 Husbandry Volunteer of the Year,” for her tremendous help in the Aquarium’s husbandry department went to Cheryl Balthrop of Swansboro. For outstanding customer service, the “2017 Customer Service” award went to Bob Montgomery. Barb and Jim Yankauskas received the “2017 French Angelfish Award.” Kay Lewis of Beaufort and Rusty Cobb of Pine Knoll Shores both received the “2017 Sea Star Award” for their flexibility in scheduling. The “2017 Shift Award” for the volunteer team that had every education station covered every week during their two-hour time requirement went to the Monday AM shift including Tina Kisling of Indian Beach, Sherry Wagner-Brown of Bogue, Melanie and John Powers of New Bern, Dan and Terri Shipko of Swansboro and Brian Balthrop of Newport. The “2017 Junior Volunteer of the Year” was Aidan Barnes of Beaufort.  

            A few volunteer divers received special recognition too. The “2017 Diver of the Year” was Doug Shaw of Pollocksville. The “2017 Volunteer Rookie Diver of the Year” was Tim Lovell of Holly Ridge. The “Volunteer Diver Team of the Year” was the Thursday “A” Team and included team leader Celeste Lindley of Pine Knoll Shores and team members Doug Shaw, Mike Dunn of Beaufort and Brandon Fernandez of Jacksonville.

            If interested in becoming a teen volunteer, adult volunteer or dive volunteer, visit www.ncaquariums.com/pine-knoll-shores-volunteer and submit an application.

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