The Fernbank Ultimate Naturalist program, also known as the FUN volunteer program, provides and an opportunity for youth ages 13-17 to gain hands-on experience in a museum setting.
The Fernbank FUN program runs June through May and includes 80 to 90 students. FUN volunteers support Fernbank’s educational efforts through a variety of projects, including interacting with guests at special “Discovery Carts” stationed throughout the Museum, providing event support at family adventure days and more.
Fernbank educators provide training, support and guidance to FUN volunteers. Currently leading the program is Education Program Manager–Earth Science, Kaden Borseth.
“Whether they volunteer for one year or 5+ years, every FUN volunteer makes a difference in the lives of guests and helps inspire a greater appreciation of natural history,” said Borseth.
Several volunteers enjoy the experience so much, they elect to continue the program until such time they age out—usually upon graduating high school.
“It’s bittersweet. We are sad to have to say goodbye, but also happy to see them moving on to great things,” said Borseth.
One of those bittersweet movements happened in May, as Fernbank said farewell to one of our long-time volunteers, Sathvik (pictured). In his own words, this is what the FUN program meant to him:
Thank you for four great years in the FUN program. I am graduating high school and moving on to The Johns Hopkins University, where I hope to study pre-med and major in Global Health Studies. I would like to eventually receive an MD and an MPH. I will definitely come by to visit Fernbank during summers and school vacations; my sister is starting the FUN program this summer. Thanks again for teaching me not only about science but also about how to speak to people and carry on conversations. The skills I learned through FUN have been very invaluable.
Thank you Sathvik. And thank you to all of our incredible FUN volunteers—past, present and future.
Information on the 2015-2016 program will be available on our website in February. Until then, please say “Hello” to our summer FUN team the next time you visit the Museum!
—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing