May 23, 2011

Volunteer Spotlight

I’m excited to announce that the Volunteer Spotlight will now be a regular feature on the Burke Blog! This month, I interviewed mammal collections volunteer Adrienne, who is also a member of the Burke Museum Student Advisory Board (BMSAB).
Jessica, volunteer coordinator: Hi Adrienne! Tell me a little bit about the volunteer work you do at the Burke.

Adrienne: In Mammalogy, I assist Jeff, the collections manager, with whatever needs to be done on a given day. Most of the time this involves either bone washing or bone numbering. 

Also, as a member of the BMSAB, I work with a small group of UW students on improving the Burke Museum’s presence on campus by increasing student awareness of the Museum.  We just hosted After Hours @ the Burke, an evening event exclusively for UW students.  We spent several months planning the event and were responsible for obtaining donations, marketing and running the event. 

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

Adrienne: I am currently in my second year as a student at UW, working on a major in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology. I got involved with the BMSAB, and met Jeff [mammal collection manager] in mammalogy while on a behind the scenes tour. My personal interests and career goals lie within conservation biology, so it’s been a great opportunity to work at the Burke where so many fascinating organisms are being preserved, and I love getting the student community involved with the museum.

Adrienne preparing whale bones for the mammal collection.
Jessica: What do you like most about volunteering at the Burke?

Adrienne: I love volunteering here at the Burke because I finally feel involved with my school. It has been so much fun to work with both the students on BMSAB and the people in Mammalogy who are all outgoing, friendly, and as excited about natural history as I am. 

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

Adrienne: It was during the winter After Hours event and I had signed up for ice cream scooping. We knew the ice cream would be popular, but we had no idea to what extent. For two hours straight, two others and I frantically scooped bowl after bowl of ice cream, going through the entire stock of 14 gallons! It was really funny to watch us trying to keep up with the never-ending waves of people wanting ice cream, and sneaking bowls for ourselves!

Jessica: What would surprise people about what you do?

Adrienne: Most people are really surprised by some of the gory things I do in mammalogy. I have gotten used to picking beetles out of squirrel skulls, scraping off the cartilage from not-quite-clean bones, and digging through a pile of elephant poop for composting hippo bones, but it never ceases to gross people out when I describe it to them for the first time!
Jessica: Briefly describe your most memorable project. 

Adrienne: I went to the Woodland Park Zoo with Jeff to check on the status of the composting hippo bones. After looking at the bones, the hippo caretaker offered for us to come watch her as she fed the live hippos. I jumped on the opportunity since it is always fun to see the animals at the zoo, but I had no idea how up close I was about to get! I got to feed both Water Lily and Guadalupe, tossing whole apples and carrots into their gaping mouths. This is another reason why I love volunteering at the Burke: unexpected opportunities are always coming up, and I have gotten to interact with so many fascinating people and animals along the way.

Posted by Jessica Newkirk,Volunteer Coordinator