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Volunteer this summer at The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum

By Staff | Apr 9, 2009

The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum is looking for volunteers to assist with summer programs.

According to Diane Orvis Thomas, the Museum’s Public Program Specialist, “Many of our volunteers reside on Sanibel or in Fort Myers during the winter but travel north in the summer. Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization.”

The Museum has five full-time staff members, six part-time employees contributing hours equivalent to about three full-time employees, and 90 volunteers.

“Without the volunteers who are willing to share both their time and talents, we would not be able to maintain the depth of programming that we have,” added Thomas.

Kathleen Hoover, the Museum’s Public Relations Manager, reports, “The Museum’s need for volunteers has increased over the last 14 months, in part because the number of visitors continues to increase each year. The increased need also is directly linked to our response to visitor and community feedback. A number of interactive programs have been added like Monday’s live mollusk demonstration, the workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday demonstrating how to find, clean and safely transport shell treasures back home, the Friday morning Mommy & Me Program, Behind The Scenes tours of the Museum conducted twice each month and the monthly beach walk.”

“I love sharing mollusk and shell information. It is amazing how many visitors have misinformation. It’s great to be able to provide them with the facts,” stated John Fairfield, an Exhibit Hall docent.

Jean Rompala, an Education docent, also loves shells.

“It is incredible being around so many wonderful shells from diverse geographic locations. Meeting people from all over the world who are drawn to the Museum because of their common interest in shells is intriguing,” Rompala said. “The other volunteers and the Museum Team are great and fun to be around. Being associated with a facility that has a world-wide reputation is an honor.”

“There are so many places that volunteers can make a difference. Their talents allow us to inform and educate visitors and assure that they get the most out of their visit to the Museum,” shared Thomas.

Volunteers go through a training program, are given a Museum membership and receive a Museum Store discount and discounted pricing for special events. Bridge toll reimbursement is provided for volunteers living off-island.

If you are interested in receiving additional information about becoming a Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum volunteer, call Diane Orvis Thomas at 239-395-2233.