by Caylee Kurasaki | April 15, 2018
For National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 15-22), we highlight members of our staff who speak about the organizations they volunteer for, why they volunteer, and what makes volunteering so impactful for them.
Daniel Rother: Tinker Tank Manager
Pacific Science Center’s Tinker Tank Manager, Daniel Rother, has been with us for the past two years. His love for museums and science center’s began when he lived in Toronto. Daniel started to bookmark science centers across the country and saw a job opening here at the Pacific Science Center. In his spare time, he volunteers at Outdoors For All as a volunteer ski instructor. This organization works with kids who have intellectual and/or physical disabilities and helps get them involved outdoors. Over the two winters, Daniel has worked with the same teenaged student. Daniel recollected a time when his student was having a hard time controlling his speed and would collide with other skiers and get in other people’s way. One day when they were skiing, his student’s skis went parallel and he shot downhill towards all of the people standing in the ski lift line. The student whammed into the metal gate and crashed on the ground. As Daniel skied over to make sure he was okay, his student jumped up and said, “That was AWESOME!” Daniel loves being a part of this fun community that embraces being outdoors.
“Volunteering helps me in my role at PacSci. Being on the other side of things gives me a better idea of what my volunteer’s needs are.”
“Volunteering also involves me in a new and different community of people.”
“It’s not hard to find a place to volunteer at that fits into your current work schedule that does meaningful work. It can be done!”
Danielle "Dani" Lang: Discovery Corps Coordinator
Dani Lang is one of our Discover Corps Coordinators here at Pacific Science Center. When she’s not working on youth development for us, she spends her time at the YMCA Earth Service Corps. This organization is dedicated to youth leadership development through environmental service. The YMCA was the organization that originally brought Dani out to Seattle and she sits on the advisory board for the organization. Dani was an Americorp member and when her term of service ended, other former Americorps members, staff and students formed the advisory board for YMCA Earth Service Corps. Dani has been volunteering for them for three years and participates in supporting various general programs, as well as volunteering at organization events, donation drives, and fundraising efforts. They are currently working on promoting a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative. Dani has volunteered on and off since she went through college. She attributes her passion for volunteerism to Americorps, which instilled a strong service ethic in her. Volunteering is “insanely fulfilling” for her and helps her in both her work and personal life. Her love for the environment stemmed from her childhood when she would go outside and catch lizards in her backyard in Florida with her father. Dani also mentioned how much she loves that she can aid in the development for young people and expose them to different topics.
“I wanted something in my life that was more meaningful, so I decided to pursue volunteer work that is environmental based.”
“Volunteering has given me the opportunity to learn and practice skills that I can put directly into my work here at the Science Center.”
“I encourage everyone to volunteer at an organization that they care about. It’s really easy to feel hopeless in our world, but even giving an hour of your time rounds it out for you.”
“Volunteering gives you a way to make positive change in your community without having to donate a ton of money.”
Josh Kemper: Discovery Corps Supervisor
Josh Kemper, one of our Discovery Corps Supervisors, has volunteered in the LBGTQ community for over five years. He identifies as a gay male and chose to volunteer at these various organizations because he didn’t have these resources when he was growing up. Josh wanted to help people avoid experiencing what he had to go through and did so by volunteering at Rain City Soccer Club and the Lambert House. Throughout his time in Seattle, he has received an overwhelming amount of support from these organizations. Volunteering is especially impactful for him because he met his partner through Rain City Soccer Club and have been together for the past eight years. Josh supports these organizations because they provide the ability for the LGBTQ community to feel normal, to feel heard, and to realize that they deserve to be in this world. For the past three years, Josh has done face painting for Pride on Denny Way, right outside of the Science Center. It’s his way of supporting pride while also showing appreciation for science.
“It’s always been about the people for me. Pretty much everyone here cares about our mission and furthering science education. I enjoy our mission and people who are passionate about serving the mission.”
Laura Dimayuga: Animal Caretaker
Laura Dimayuga is an Animal Caretaker at Pacific Science Center but also volunteers as a cat caretaker at Seattle Area Feline Rescue. In her role at the shelter, Laura looks after all of the cats and aids in getting them adopted. One of the reasons Laura loves volunteering at the shelter is because of their ringworm program. Seattle Area Feline Rescue takes in these sick cats and helps them, whereas other shelters might not take them in at all or may euthanize them. As a hands-on caretaker, it’s really rewarding for Laura to see a cat who used to have ringworm get adopted. She develops relationships with the cats and recalls a cat named “Ghost” who had fangs that stuck out of his mouth. Ghost had a lot of medical needs and was at the shelter for a while, so she was ecstatic when he got adopted. Her work at the shelter helps her in her role here at the Science Center; being a cat caretaker has allowed her to read animals better. Laura actually used to work at Seattle Area Feline Rescue before she joined our team at the Science Center and loved it so much that she went back to volunteer. She has always been an animal lover and enjoys interacting with animals that you wouldn’t normally get to.
“I never knew I could have a job taking care of animals until I got to college.”
“Volunteering is a nice way of getting experience, especially when you love what you do. In my case, I love looking after animals.”
Lauren Bloomenthal: Animal Care Supervisor
Lauren Bloomenthal has been working with Pacific Science Center for ten years and currently works as an Animal Care Supervisor. When she’s not caring for our animals, Lauren volunteers at Woodland Park Zoo as an Animal Unit Volunteer. She works with a zookeeper in the tropical rainforest unit and cares for jaguars, red pandas and pudus (small deer). Lauren has been volunteering at the zoo for nine years and became involved in volunteering there after she worked as a summer employee. She originally began in an educator role at the zoo but then wanted to work more closely with the animals, so she transitioned to an animal unit volunteer. Lauren loves being in an environment where you can be around different animals and enjoys developing relationships with animals. In middle school, Lauren went on a family trip to the Galapagos Islands and fell in love with all of the wild animals. That trip was the catalyst for her choosing to start a career in animal care. Volunteering has impacted her career as well as her personal life. She loves bringing family to the zoo and giving them a behind the scenes tour. Her nephew told her that going to the zoo with her is so much better than going to the zoo with his school for a field trip. Another reason that Lauren loves volunteering at Woodland Park Zoo is because the zoo works incredibly hard to give fulfilling and enriching lives to the animals that are within their care. She also likes that the zoo enables people who don’t have the ability to travel to see and experience these exhibits that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
“Volunteering is a valuable way to spend my time.”
“Even though there are less glamorous parts about working with animals, such as cleaning up poop, it’s always worth it.”
Sarah Moore: Living Exhibits Manager
Pacific Science Center’s Living Exhibits Manager, Sarah Moore, has worked at the Science Center for twenty years. In her spare time, Sarah volunteers with the Boy Scouts of America as an Advancement Coordinator. She is responsible for ensuring that the boys receive their awards when they have earned them. Sarah became involved with Boy Scouts after her son joined a troop and wanted to give back to the organization. One memorable moment that stood out to Sarah the most while volunteering for the Boy Scouts was when she led a twelve day hike in New Mexico. She backpacked, hiked and camped with the troop.
For Sarah, her volunteerism isn’t necessarily in areas that she’s the best at, but she volunteers because it takes her out of her comfort zone and lets her learn new things. When she reflects on her New Mexico trip, she couldn’t believe that she did that because she isn’t typically the type of person who sleeps in a tent or hikes twelve miles.
Volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America is rewarding for Sarah because she sees how the boys are learning to be more responsible for themselves and she considers all of the boys as family and loves watching them progress and learn valuable life lessons and work skills.
Not shown in the group photo:
Alayna Wagers: HR/Talent Generalist
One of Pacific Science Center’s HR/Talent Generalists, Alayna Wagers, has been volunteering at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) for the last three years. Her love for the arts started during her childhood when her grandmother got her involved in various art museums. She attended art classes at the Frye Museum as a child and would frequent the children’s theater. Alayna loves how art can be interpreted differently by everyone and it benefits people in numerous ways. It’s an opportunity for learning that is a lot different than a formal setting, allows people to interpret ideas creatively, and reach broad audiences. She had the opportunity to work on a huge art installation at the SAM and she helped cast the large tree installation that hangs in the foyer of the museum currently. Alayna really enjoys how her volunteer position allows her to be involved in such large projects that will stay at the museum for at least the next five to ten years. Volunteering also keeps her current on what is going on in her community, as well as, exposes her to meeting new people. To her, volunteering at an institution that is considered a pillar of the community is very rewarding and she gets the chance to continuously learn new things.
“I definitely encourage everyone to volunteer because you can be involved without having too much of a commitment.”
“The combination of my interest in art and also giving back to the community is what attracted me to volunteering at the SAM.”
Brittany Strachota: Tinker Tank Program Lead
Brittany Strachota has recently joined Pacific Science Center’s team as a Tinker Tank Program Lead. She loves that everyone at PacSci cares about science and loves working here. Brittany, while she was growing up, had an amazing bunny and knew that she wanted to have one as an adult. Shortly after she moved to Seattle, she found the organization Special Bunny and began volunteering. Special Bunny is a rabbit rescue organization that houses as many as 60-90 rabbits at any given time. Special Bunny also is a sanctuary for rabbits to go to and receive care if needed. Brittany sits on the board for Special Bunny and is also a general volunteer. Special Bunny is special to Brittany because she adopted one of her bunnies, Charles, from the shelter. Brittany has always been involved in volunteerism; she once volunteered to be a part of a community river group who restored rivers, was also a robotics mentor and coach, and ran an engineering outreach program while she was in college. One of her favorite moments from volunteering was after a heavy cleaning day at Special Bunny, which means that they cleaned the entire shelter, Brittany said that she could hear the entire room full of rabbits munching on hay. Volunteering has positively impacted Brittany’s life significantly. She decided to live a vegetarian lifestyle after volunteering at the shelter, she has also developed close relationships while on the Special Bunny board with people she considers extended family and she now has six rabbits living at her home.