National Volunteer Week is coming to a close. All of us here at OWCN want to thank all our volunteers again for being part of the network. You are all fantastic, hard working people. Here’s a summary of everyone we profiled this week – it’s a long post, but well worth the read, especially for their thoughts on volunteering. And yes, I know I said that I would only use your responder profile photos for good (aka spill security badges), and instead I’m using them for evil (aka blog photos), but I really wanted everyone to see the faces of some of the greatest volunteers out there!
Kim Peterson, who volunteers at SeaWorld in San Diego, has worked with animals for 40 years, and her favorite (if she has to choose!) is a flamingo. Kim worked during Cosco Busan and recalls, “There were so many amazing things going on, the organized chaos, the heat, the smell, the fatigue and the sense that despite all of that everyone was of like mind and eager to do what needed to be done. There were some pretty amazing volunteers, no experience just there to help, and they came back every day to do laundry, wash dishes and scrub floors. No glamor, just hard work, and they kept coming back. I went to visit a year later and was so happy to see that some of those same people had stayed on to volunteer regularly at IBR. It made me very happy”.
Susan McCarthy works out of the San Francisco Bay facility and has been with IBR since the beginning! She was volunteering at age 15 for the Oregon Standard-Arizona Standard spill in the San Francisco Bay. She says, “I found myself in a basement under the lion house washing scoters, grebes, and loons. The lions were upset and they kept roaring…” She has volunteered at many spills and events since then, the most recent being the mystery event this last winter. Susan notes, “Every time I witness a spill I’m amazed and thrilled at how much has been learned and how much better we are at it”. I had the chance to work with Susan up in Arcata a few years back when all the pelicans were coming in contaminated with fish oil. Near or far, Susan is there, working hard to help save animals.
Cindy Serraino volunteers with the SORAC program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and has worked with animals for 15 years starting as a technician at an animal shelter and training dogs. Her passion for animals grew into an interest in conservation and she eventually became certified as part of the National Animal Disaster Response Team. Currently Cindy volunteers doing sea otter rehabilitation and release at MBA, and also volunteers with Marine Life Studies, doing research and education on whales in the Monterey Bay. When asked about volunteering, Cindy says, “The best part about volunteering is knowing that you are making a difference; making an effort, working hard and dedicating your free time to something because it matters, not because there is something in it for you. It’s not about making money or looking good but about feeding your soul and being selfless. I volunteer with SORAC because I want to be part of the efforts that help bring back a species from threats of endangerment, and volunteering with oil spill responses because as a human being, I feel partly responsible for the harm we are doing to the environment and I want to do my part to help make it right.”
Tamar Danufsky is the coordinator for the Marine Wildlife Care Center at Humboldt State University. She has been a wildlife biologist for over 25 years, and has worked with songbirds, seabirds, raptors, beetles, and bears. Tamar recalls her early oil spill experience: “I came to HSU in 1997 for grad school and was only here for 3 months when the Kure oil spill happened. If you asked me before Kure, I would have said that I don’t believe in oiled wildlife rescue. But during the Kure I went down to the edge of Humboldt Bay and saw the sheen of oil on the water and people picking up oiled birds, and I felt this strong sense of the oil spill having happened to me, to my community, my environment (and I’d only been here 3 months). That’s when I realized how important it is for the community to have a place they can go and volunteer to fix the damage to their own backyard. Oiled wildlife rescue needs volunteers, but volunteers have a need to be able to contribute as well.” You may not know, but if there was a spill in the Humboldt area, Tamar would be the rallying force of the student volunteer population. When asked about student volunteers, she says, “Students are a great volunteer resource: They are enthusiastic for new experiences, they have flexible schedules, and they are happy to skip classes to help out…We couldn’t possibly mount a large spill response on our remote North Coast without this valuable resource.”
Janet Dickey volunteers with the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center. Janet moved to Crescent City in 2004, after living in San Diego and volunteering with the House Rabbit Society. She was aware of NMMC and started volunteering right away. Janet says, “I love my paid job (supports my seal habit), but volunteering opens so many more worlds of activities. You can pick what you love to do, and do it”. She thinks the best thing about volunteering is being able to give their clients a second chance in life. Even as she had to run to get to a feeding shift at NMMC, Janet noted, “I’m always energized being there, even though it is hard work, and at times very sad work. I’ve developed a fondness for birds, and also volunteer for the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center/Bird Ally X, located in Arcata. HWCC/BAX is a super organization, and I feel grateful to work with the wonderful re-habbers there”.
Once again, thank you to all the fantastic volunteers of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network!