By Lisa Gilfillan, interpretive volunteer programmer
Every summer Birch Aquarium at Scripps comes alive with an influx of eager teenagers. These youth summer interns (YSI) volunteer in a 10-week program that allows them to support the Aquarium’s mission in a variety of ways:
- Interpreting Scripps Institution of Oceanography research by answering visitor questions about marine environments, live animals, and interactive science exhibits
- Providing ocean science education through activities, conversations, and other engagements
- Promoting ocean conservation by encouraging stewardship for the environment
This summer, our 17 interns helped guests explore the wonders of San Diego Bay through exhibits and hands-on discovery stations—an opportunity that allowed them to go beyond the traditional role of summer interns. By the end of the program, they’d interacted with and educated more than 100,000 visitors.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps could not remain a thriving learning environment without its volunteers, including summer interns. But, our guests aren’t the only ones learning. When not interacting with visitors, the interns researched and prepared collaborative projects on topics that were of interest and value to them—as well as to the aquarium. This year, the interns studied pollution, endangered species, and human activities in and around the Bay.
Through all this, these interns built essential life and academic skills that will help carry them into the future: interpersonal communication and interactions, teamwork and respect, failure as a part of success, leadership and responsibility, and, of course, how to have fun while working toward a goal. The interns were exposed to a variety of science-related careers and pathways as they learn from and interact with aquarium experts and Scripps researchers.
Although the time may pass quickly, the relationships the students formed and the memories they created can last a lifetime.
For more information, visit Birch Aquarium’s Youth Internship Page.