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We’re so grateful to have a fantastic group of volunteers at CuriOdyssey. From Aviary Aides and Interpretive Guides who share with children their extensive knowledge of animals, to the Camp Leaders-in-Training and Exhibit Facilitators who educate our visitors and campers, we’re so appreciative of everything they do.

In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 21-27, 2013), we’re giving you a look at just a handful our volunteers’ experiences at CuriOdyssey. A big thanks to ALL of our volunteers; we really couldn’t do it with out them!

Marjie and Tim, Weekend Interpretive Guides (also known as “TWIGs”)


How did you first get involved volunteering here?
I grew up going to Coyote Point and what was then called the Junior Museum. My sisters and brother and I enjoyed playing on the lawn in front of the museum and learning about the animals and their habitats. My two sons have also grown up going to the museum and have also attended many different classes and camps. As teenagers they were excited to learn that they could become TWIGs and have a way to work with the animals and share their love of nature.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at CuriOdyssey?
We love working with the animals. It is such a kick to introduce an education animal. It is fun when there is a crowd to work with, but Tim and I really enjoy one on one contact with the public, too.

Has volunteering at CuriOdyssey impacted you in any way?
For me, volunteering has given me some really special one-on-one time with each of my teenage sons. I have watched each of them grow, and also develop some great skills both while training with the wildlife staff and then working with the public. It is a very wonderful feeling to be a part of a TWIG team. For Tim, he has always been grateful for the opportunity to give back to his community.

Do you have a favorite animal or exhibit?
It is quite difficult to pick a favorite Animal Ambassador. Tim’s pick would be the bearded dragon, Elliot. He loves the reaction that folks have to such a large and burly looking lizard. Close second choice would be Dozer the vinegarroon, as Tim has always had a special interest in scorpions. As for me, I enjoy working with all the animals. The hedgehogs and the ferrets do hold a special place in my heart.


Raha, Camp CuriOdyssey Leader-in-Training

How did you first get involved volunteering here?
[The museum] was a huge part of my childhood. Growing up, I was jealous of the kids that went to camp so I promised myself that in the future I would be involved in the museum’s community. I signed up to be an LIT as soon as I was old enough.

What do you enjoy about volunteering at CuriOdyssey?
I love meeting new campers each week and seeing the look on their faces when they are having fun and learning something new. I also love all the leaders that have mentored me throughout my years as an LIT and have helped me grow as a person.

What is the most surprising thing that happened to you while volunteering?
I remember one day we brought our campers to the animal exhibits and the two bobcats were wrestling. It was nonstop; they rolled around their enclosure for about an hour or so. All the visitors and our campers were fascinated and had crowded around the exhibit. Not only was it a way for them to get their exercise, but it was also amusing for us.


Rachel, Aviary Aide

What do you enjoy about volunteering at CuriOdyssey?
I love the rapport I have with the animal keepers. They are great about making sure that I get chances to do all kinds of things. Because I have been here so long, they make sure I don’t get stuck doing the same thing all the time. They are also great about teaching me how to help care for the animals. And of course working with the animals just goes without saying. I love all their different personalities and getting to share their stories with the visitors. Because it is a smaller place I have gotten the chance to do all kinds of things, including working with the raptors that volunteers don’t always get to do.

Has volunteering at CuriOdyssey impacted you in any way?
It has helped encourage me to keep in touch with my dream of someday having a job working with animals. Coming every Saturday and getting to hang out with the people and the animals makes a nice start to my weekend. Of course a lot of people just assume I work there. It has also created a great interest in working with birds, since I did not have much experience with them before this.

Do you have a favorite animal or exhibit?
It is hard to pick just one or two but if I had to, it would probably be a tie between Tesla the kestrel and Yzma the Swainson’s hawk. They both have a lot of personality and can be a little feisty. Us girls have to stick together.


Kirstan, Weekend Interpretive Guide

How did you first get involved volunteering here?
I grew up in San Mateo, so I remember the Quonset hut over the hill. I interned here one college summer, back before the wildlife habitats were built; I had a cart full of what we’d now call biofacts, and I showed short films in the theater. I started back as a weekend volunteer in the 1990s, and I’ve been coming ever since.

Has volunteering at CuriOdyssey impacted you in any way?
In my work-life, I mostly sit in front of a computer. Volunteering at CuriOdyssey gives me the opportunity to be outside in a beautiful setting and to talk to visitors about things that interest me. I love the local emphasis and hands-on nature of the exhibits and activities, and volunteering allows me to help visitors get more out of their time at CuriOdyssey. Seeing kids happy, engaged, and with “wow” faces makes it easy to get hooked on volunteering at CuriOdyssey.

What is the most surprising thing that happened to you while volunteering?
Even after many years of volunteering, there’s always something new. Just last month was the first time I’d ever seen a raven reach through the fence and grab an eagle by its tail feather. What else over the years? Heckle the magpie stealing the shiny tweezers out of my activity. Peanut the porcupine doing her dance. A young visitor grabbing her father’s sunglasses off his nose and throwing them into the aviary pond. Ever new questions: “What kind of lizard is Godzilla?” Kids and animals . . . there’s no end to the surprises.

Thanks again to all of our wonderful volunteers, and have a happy National Volunteer Week! To learn more about CuriOdyssey’s volunteer opportunities, please go here.

Join the CuriOdyssey Community


1651 Coyote Point Drive
San Mateo, CA 94401

[email protected]

CuriOdyssey is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Tax ID 94-1262434

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