My office here at the Houston Museum of Natural Science is basically right outside a public hallway, so I overhear a great variety of things, from surprised exclamations as patrons look up and see the giant stuffed grizzly bear down the hall to hums of confusion as they examine a map (the Hall of Ancient Egypt is on the third floor, by the way). But my favorite sounds are the squeals of delight from children returning from a tour of the Morian Hall of Paleontology with the HMNS Docents.
Every day, hundreds of 4th grade students from Houston Independent School District visit HMNS and take a tour with a museum volunteer. And every single day, right outside my office, they all line up, ready for labs, and happily recap the tour for each other. Whether it’s discussing the size of a Tyrannosaurus rex’s teeth to retelling one of David DeVido’s punny jokes, it’s music to my ears. In my mind, that’s what being an HMNS volunteer is all about—inspiring our visitors to appreciate science and instilling in our students a love of learning.
Just down the hall, there’s the Welch Hall of Chemistry, where volunteers engage visitors with a chemistry show featuring everything from chemical reactions to polymers. The “wow!” and “do it again!” shouts from the crowd are easily heard echoing along the way; the volunteers put on a great show!
Take a walk upstairs and the sounds of kids enjoying the volunteers’ efforts ring throughout the HMNS halls. From the touch carts in the Permanent Exhibit Halls to Early Investigations, the volunteers’ program designed to introduce HMNS to young learners, volunteers are crucial to the success of the thousands of field trips taken to the museum each year.
Furthermore, volunteers impact every aspect of the visitor experience at HMNS. Did you know that volunteers are crucial to the care and upkeep of the flora and fauna found in the Cockrell Butterfly Center? Or that volunteers have donated several specimens on display in the exhibit halls?
The week of April 24 is Volunteer Appreciation Week nationwide. That week and each of the other 51, take some time and thank a volunteer for what they do. HMNS would not be close to what it is today without the hard work and passion of its volunteers, and the HMNS staff is thankful every single day that we have them here.
Thank you, volunteers!