April 18, 2011

April is Volunteer Recognition Month!

Did you know that over 200 volunteers donate more than 12,000 hours each year at the Burke Museum? Volunteers are a quiet but powerful force at the museum, often times working on tedious projects like prepping mammals and birds in the biology department, sorting shells in archaeology or preparing materials for tours in education. Since April is Volunteer Recognition Month, I’d like to highlight a few individuals who represent the volunteer work occurring every day at the museum.  Recently, Jess was kind enough to sit down and chat with me about her experiences volunteering at the Burke.

Jessica, volunteer coordinator: Hi Jess!  Tell me a little bit about the volunteer work you do at the Burke.

Jess: I have been working in the education department for about a year now.  I help lead tours for K-12 school groups, lead hands-on educational opportunities in the galleries on First Thursdays and assist with various office tasks. 

Jessica:  How did you end up volunteering at the Burke Museum?

Jess: I like teaching pre-kindergarten kids, and once I found out I could do that at the Burke I applied to volunteer early last year.  I am currently a UW student double majoring in history and anthropology.  I graduate next fall and I'd really like to work in museums so I hope that my volunteer experience will give me an edge when I'm applying for jobs.

Jessica: What is the funniest thing that has happened while volunteering?

Jess: Last summer during the Little Dinos summer camp, a 5 year old girl corrected my pronunciation of “ammonite”. Sometimes it’s hard to teach dinosaurs to kids because they already know everything!

Jessica: What would surprise people about what you do?

Jess: I spend a lot of time cutting cardboard for crafts such as bentwood boxes.

Jessica: Briefly describe your most memorable project.

Jess: Last year, I helped develop a “kid mail database” so education staff could easily find and reflect on fan mail received from children. I scanned all the thoughtful and creative letters, and then organized them by type, such as tour, quotes, and drawings.  The education department now uses them for outreach in Olympia and promoting events. Some of them have even been featured on the Burke Blog here.

Jessica: Thanks for your time today and thank you so much for all you do for the Burke!

In addition to volunteering for education, Jess is a member of the Burke Museum Student Advisory Board.  BMSAB promotes the museum and plans student events.
Interested in volunteering for the Burke?  Check out current volunteer opportunities here

Posted by: Jessica Newkirk, Volunteer Coordinator