BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Aquarium quickly wins over its young visitors and it’s also a hit with young workers.
“I have such a good time,” says Isabelle Desisto, a 3-year aquarium intern.
“I’ve never had a bad day on the job,” agrees fellow intern, Uchechukwu Onwunaka.
The aquarium offers internships and volunteer opportunities for high school students all year long.
And while it’s fun to be around the penguins, seals, and giant ocean tank there is a much larger mission at play.
“Part of the aquarium’s mission states that we are really here to create ocean stewards. And we want to inspire the next generation of young people who will care for the planet,” explains Heather Deschenes, manager of the youth development program at the New England Aquarium.
Through their work at the aquarium, hundreds of students have learned about our changing climate.
With every visitor interaction the students discuss what our changing environment means for animals’ habitats and our coast.
“It’s given me so many opportunities to build off and go off to be an active member of society, a vocal ambassador for the environment,” explains Onwunaka.
Many students are motivated to take these lessons back to their classmates and beyond.
“It inspired me to start an environmental club at my school,” Onwunaka said.
Heresa Guerrier, an aquarium volunteer, says it’s about, “trying to find your voice and trying to find a way to use what you’ve learned [to] turn it into something important like laws or reach out to community members.”
That voice gives many of these students a new-found confidence.
“I’ve learned to be more independent, be more outgoing,” explains Kelvin Tejada.
Desisto agrees, “I’ve learned a lot of skills like public speaking.”
“We like to see them grow to see their own strengths and their talents, develop a sense of empowerment, but also come away from it kind of ready to go off and face the world,” says Deschenes.
Ready to face the world and protect the planet says Tejada.
“If I’m 17 and I already feel like what I’m doing matters that’s pretty insane,” he told WBZ-TV.
Volunteers programs are available at the aquarium throughout the year. If you’re interested in the internship program, applications will be accepted in February for next summer.
For more information on internships and volunteer opportunities at the New England Aquarium, visit their website.
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