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Melanie Moraga promoted to assistant director of Shell Museum

By Staff | Aug 12, 2015

Melanie Moraga was promoted to assistant director at Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. PHOTO PROVIDED

While chaperoning her daughter’s field trip, Melanie Moraga was introduced to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum for the first time, creating a new found passion and desire to learn more about shells.

“I’m hungry for knowledge,” she said about discovering new information about shells and mollusks.

After Moraga began looking for a job in 2012, she spotted a part-time position with the shell museum and applied. The museum was the first to call her back to schedule an interview, which turned into a job as an admission specialist in September 2012.

“It was meant to be,” Moraga said smiling.

Over the last few years her passion of working at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum has only intensified as she took on new roles and dipped into different faucets of what the museum has to offer.

That passion and excitement landed Moraga a promotion from executive assistant to assistant director, which includes an array of job responsibilities. Some of those responsibilities entail scheduling group tours, membership and volunteer coordination, as well as becoming involved in fundraising and donor relations.

“Melanie’s promotion reflects her importance to me and to the museum,” Museum Executive Director Dorrie Hipschman said in a prepared statement. “She’s become an indispensable employee and a valued member of our museum team. I’m confident that she’ll continue to excel as we work to make the museum even better.”

With her promotion, Moraga had the opportunity to continue her work with the Adopt A Class program the museum offers for fourth grade students of Lee County. The program brings the students to the museum on a field trip.

“I’ve grown very attached,” to the program,” she said.

Over the course of the last three years Moraga has personally experienced what kind of impact the program has for the students who visit the museum. One group of students that touched her heart were from Tice Elementary School. She said every student knew the answers to every question asked, while remaining polite.

As a thank you, Moraga puts together a package for the donor who Adopts A Class, which includes handwritten letters and often times picture drawings from each of the students. Some of those letters, she said touches your heart of much the program meant to them.

The various positions at Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum has helped Moraga develop a new level of confidence that has left her striking up conversations with others in and outside of work.

“I’ve come out of my shell,” Moraga said smiling.

She said it’s hard to walk out of the museum without a new found passion for the beaches after learning about shells and mollusks. Moraga has found herself on multiple occasions having conversations with others walking the beaches and searching for shells on Sanibel.

Katie Ball, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum marketing and events manager, said Moraga has become stronger in making decisions because of that new found confidence.

A year ago a dream of Moraga’s became a reality when she was afforded the opportunity to live on Sanibel, the island in which she fell in love with and has become very passionate about.

“CHR gave me the opportunity to live here,” she said. “I love living here.”

Now without having a long commute home, Moraga often times goes to the beautiful beaches of Sanibel to perfect another passion, capturing photographs of nature. In 2007 she stumbled upon the hobby while taking pictures of flowers around her pool.

What started off as taking pictures of nature and sunsets, has grown into a new passion of taking pictures of shells on the sandy beaches.

“I love taking pictures of shells,” Moraga said. “I have a new appreciation for shells and mollusks.”

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.