Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Learning Never Ends

Gypsi and Tursi taught a volunteer something new!

Each year, a significant number of people generously volunteer at DRC. They take on a lot of different duties and responsibilities, easing the workload of staff. We couldn’t do what we do without their help! Some volunteers are here for a few weeks; some are accepted as interns and are here for three to four months, focusing on a particular department for career experience. Some of these wonderful people were never even near dolphins until they came to DRC. We thought it would be interesting to ask them what they’ve learned from their DRC experiences that didn’t know before. Here are some of their answers.

Linda M. shared how moved she’s been seeing Jax’s progress. It’s amazed her that this wild dolphin has been adopted by both people and dolphins and has assimilated into the family.

Sue has learned a lot about dolphin behavior. She once saw Tursi pushing a completely inert Gypsi around the lagoon. At first she was scared that something was wrong, but a trainer assured her it was natural and that Gypsi was demonstrating totally submissive behavior to her mother.

Sarah had no idea how much it costs to feed and care for the dolphins and operate a facility like DRC. She was also impressed with how many people we educate with our programs.

Linda H. remarked on all the interns and resource pool volunteers who visit from around the country and around the world. It’s interesting to her to see them first arrive, a little unsure about their role, and then grow into being part of the team, part of the family.

Becca concurs, saying that it’s easy to be part of the DRC family because everyone else is so welcoming.

Merina brightened a volunteer's day!

Allie is impressed by how much the dolphins seem to pick up on human emotion. Once when she was having a down day, she sat out by the front lagoon and Merina just popped up and stayed near her, making eye contact. Allie thought it was almost like they were having a silent conversation.

Sandy agrees. Her prior experience was mostly with dogs and horses, but she feels that the dolphins show that same sort of connection with people.

Jeanette was talking to a visitor one day who had previously done a dolphin swim somewhere else. She asked how the Dolphin Encounter here compared and the visitor told her there was no comparison. She loved her experience at DRC and said it was obvious that the dolphins love us! Jeanette has also learned about another local species and said she now realizes that it’s more fun to watch manatees doing their own thing in her local canal than it is to give them food or water. She now spreads that conservation message to her neighbors so that nobody interferes with the manatees’ natural behavior.

Rainbow loves showing off his athleticism, as well as his "smarts"!

Linda M. once watched Rainbow doing a session in our “Less” research study. It was obvious to her that Bo sulked when he got an answer wrong. When he answered correctly and got all excited for himself, she cried! She couldn’t believe that a dolphin could do something so special.

Barb has made volunteer trips here for many years. Early on, she was told that when we step down to the docks, we are entering the dolphins’ home. She’d never thought of it quite that way before and the message made a big impression.

Finally, Becky, who is the Director of Volunteer Resources, told us that she’s learned something very special, too. Before she came to DRC, she didn’t know there were so many terrific people in the world.

Many thanks to all of DRC’s wonderful volunteers. We’re so glad you’re part of the DRC family!