Mid May is one of my favorite weeks of the year in my role as Volunteers Coordinator. It was National Volunteer Week, developed by Volunteering Australia and held each year. The aim is to celebrate volunteers and to encourage all of us to consider volunteering.
This is when I get the chance to give something back to the 300+ volunteers who give their time and expertise helping us achieve all the amazing things we do at the Australian Museum.
I am a member of a group of managers of volunteer programs from cultural and natural history museums and institutions in Sydney who meet informally to discuss what we do. In 2008 we decided that we wanted to do something for National Volunteer Week. We did a brainstorm and came up with the idea of offering our volunteers and their friends a chance to visit and experience our organisations with tours, walks and free entries.
The program has grown from modest beginnings and this year involved 16 institutions - Australian Museum, Taronga Zoo, Australian National Maritime Museum, State Library of NSW, Sydney Jewish Museum, Powerhouse Museum, Powerhouse Discovery Centre, Sydney Observatory, State Records NSW, Sydney Living Museums, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney Heritage Fleet, Sydney Cricket and Sports Grounds Trust, Trainworks Museum, Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney.
All week I had my volunteers telling me about what and where they were going each day and how much they enjoyed themselves. It offered a chance for them to go to places that they haven’t been to for a while or not had reason to visit before. We were very lucky with the weather this year too as there were many outdoor events.
I offered public galleries tours with Chris Hosking showing off our live animals. A complementary coffee and cake was mandatory then they met our lizards, snakes, fresh water crocodiles and the invertebrates we have on display. Chris thoroughly enjoyed himself answering a huge variety of questions from 31 volunteers from 9 institutions.
So all in all a very satisfying week at work for me.