December 2016 – Kathy Folk
Kathy Folk is Volunteer of the Month for December. Kathy’s enthusiasm is absolutely contagious! She is always happy to be at the Newport Aquarium, no matter the task- when asked to do something she usually responds with “I’m just happy to be here!”. She eagerly shares her passion with others. Recently, after completing a dive show, she didn’t hesitate to talk to the children all about scuba diving. She had the campers captivated as she explains some of the things she does here and the mechanics of scuba diving—completely engaging them and inspiring the next generation of divers. Not only can you find Kathy underwater, but you can also find her helping out at other WAVE Foundation events. Thank you Kathy for helping other experience the wonder!
Thank you Kathy for all you do!
Volunteer of the Year – Toni Hughes
Congratulations to our 2016 Volunteer of the Year!
Toni joined our family in March 2008 as an Exhibit Interpreter. From there she has jumped in whenever someone has needed help in either the Discovery Station, assisting with special events, being the filing specialist in the VSO, and even helping out with outreaches. She is always willing to lend a helping hand and just by talking to her for a few minutes you will discover the great love and care she has for all animals. Her stories are endless, fascinating, and will keep you glued to your chair just listening to how experienced and knowledgeable she is at what she does. Toni is always friendly and patient everywhere she goes. She has a smile for everyone, from the very young to the very old. Her winning personality is only part of what makes her so awesome. Toni has volunteered over 6,500 hours of her time to numerous organizations! She really provides that extra special something to every guest that asks her a question, and she really deserves to be recognized this year for her outstanding volunteer work that she contributes to the WAVE Foundation and Newport Aquarium!
Thank you Toni for all you do!
2016 Previous Volunteers of the Month
January 2016 – Shannon Smith
In October of 2015, WAVE had a request for a penguin outreach to Kingsport, TN. I said “definitely”…without giving much thought to the 2nd person that I would need to drag on a 13 hour outreach! In early November, I was on an outreach with Shannon Smith and mentioned to the library guests that I was even taking a penguin to Tennessee. After the outreach, Shannon said to me; “I want to go on that outreach!” I asked her if she was sure she wanted to spend a whole Friday in the van driving to and from…and without hesitation she said she was definitely going to Tennessee as WAVE is making history! On December 18th at 6am, we packed up Blueberry and took a 13 hour round trip to Tennessee. We also stopped by Virginia to get a great picture with our van and the state sign. We had an incredible outreach and were truly doing something WAVE has never done before and Shannon was a big part of it. I am nominating her for volunteer of the month because Shannon absolutely goes above and beyond what is asked of volunteers! She always says “yes” and enjoys meeting with crowds on outreaches.
February 2016 – Alyssa Longworth
Alyssa joined our Aquarium family in March of 2015 as a Summer Naturalist and hasn’t stopped since! She has donated over 240 hours as a Summer Naturalist and recently hit her 300-hour milestone! While volunteering, Alyssa treated a group of special needs students from her school to a day at the Aquarium. She used the tickets that she earned from volunteering during the summer to treat them. Wanting to provide the best experience for her group, Alyssa went a step further and created a scavenger hunt worksheet for them.
She is a real star performer for us in every way. This particular occasion showed that Alyssa undeniably deserves a nod for Volunteer Of the Month.
March 2016 – Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye joined our Aquarium family in 2001 as a Diver. She wears many hats here at the Aquarium. She is not only a diver but also one of WAVE Foundations Board of Directors. She has donated over 1500 hours of service here. Kathy’s attitude and work ethic are not only stellar but contagious! She is always ready to help in any way and loves to interact with the guests. She is such an asset to me and the rest of our staff. Kathy responds to every task with a big smile, willing attitude, and great sense of humor. She is an incredible person and volunteer!!!!
April 2016 – Toni Hughes
Toni joined our family in March 2008 as an Exhibit Interpreter. From there she has jumped in whenever someone has needed help in either the Discovery Station, assisting with special events, being the filing specialist in the VSO, and even helping out with outreaches. She is always willing to lend a helping hand and just by talking to her for a few minutes you will discover the great love and care she has for all animals. Her stories are endless, fascinating, and will keep you glued to your chair just listening to how experienced and knowledgeable she is at what she does. Toni is always friendly and patient everywhere she goes. She has a smile for everyone, from the very young to the very old. Her winning personality is only part of what makes her so awesome. Toni has volunteered over 6,500 hours of her time to numerous organizations! She really provides that extra special something to every guest that asks her a question, and she really deserves to be recognized this year for her outstanding volunteer work that she contributes to the WAVE Foundation and Newport Aquarium!WORTH REPEATING!!
May 2016 – Jon Heidenreich
Jon joined our Aquarium family in 2012 and this is his third time being nominated for Volunteer of the Month. When guests see divers in the water, they go crazy and always want a picture with them. Jon is a true rock star for the dive team. One time when Jon was in the shark tank he found a large sand tiger shark tooth. As he was continuing along the dive he saw a little boy in the bubble window. He and his safety diver went over to the window to make a memory worth repeating. Jon showed off this new sand tiger’s tooth he found with the little boy. Jon noticed that the boy was very excited to see the tooth and was trying to talk with him, but it is kinda hard to hear through the glass. Once the dive was over, Jon rushed to get cleaned up and went straight down stairs to the shark tank to find the boy. He wasn’t there, so Jon rushed up to the gift shop where he saw the boy looking at shark teeth necklaces. Jon went over to the boy and gave him the tooth he found and talked to him about sharks. This is one one example of why Jon has been nominated for Volunteer of the Month. THANKS JON FOR MAKING MEMORIES WORTH REPEATING!!
June 2016 – Bryan Sutton & Danny Koleski
Being a volunteer diver means more than just helping out at the aquarium for these two volunteer divers. Bryan and Danny helped the DSO team when we brought on a new group of twenty new volunteer divers. Both of these guys used their dive master skills to help monitor and assist the new divers as they went through skills and swim test. Both of them took it upon themselves to make sure everyone was safe and still having fun while they went through the assessment. Not only did these two divers help with the assessment, but they have helped train some of those new volunteer divers in the exhibits here at the aquarium. To the credit of Danny and Bryan, some of the new divers approached the DSO’s and told us how much they appreciated their help, not only in the pool, but here at the aquarium as well.
July 2016 – Tori Obermeyer
Give Tori a big high five when you see her, because she’s our Volunteer of the Month! She traveled to DC with us and documented the entire, historical trip for WAVE. Her work will no doubt propel our Foundation into the future and expand our virtual audience! She already has made a huge impact on the future of our website and how we communicate to our constituents. Tori is active and looking for new ways to help the WAVE Foundation progress into the future. She is always ready and willing to help express our love for the aquatic life with the world through her lens! As a videographer intern, she has helped multiple departments with her skills and ideas. Tori is definitely creating memories worth repeating!
August 2016 – Kevin Taylor
When volunteer divers come to the aquaruim to dive, they trust the DSO’s to provide not only knowledge of SCUBA, but to keep them safe while they dive. Kevin Taylor has always had his eye on safety, even when he is not diving. He has donated the cut resistant gloves we now use in our Coral Reef exhibit. The DSO’s like these gloves so much that we have decided to use them as maintenance gloves as well. Not only did Kevin think about divers, he thought about the husbandyr staff and the penguins. He has also donated cur resistant arm bands to help keep the husbandry staff safew when they deal with the penguins. Kevin has not helped keep all the divers and husbandry staff safe and this is why he was nominated as Volunteer of the Month. Thank you Kevin for keeping us safe!!
September 2016 – Marc Kuhnhein
Marc Kuhnhein always goes above and beyond for the dive program! Lately, Marc has been asked to do some pretty out of the ordinary tasks. Whether he is asked to use the force or catch fish (with a net in each hand in a dry suit—talk about excellent buoyancy!), he does it with a smile on their face! He checks in with the dive office to see if he can help out (almost on a weekly basis) in Pacific Coast—the coldest tank our divers get into. Marc always has a “What can I do next?” outlook when it comes to helping! Not only can you find Marc underwater around the Aquarium, but you can find him helping out at other WAVE Events (most recently Putt for Penguins). Marc’s efforts and dedication truly makes the Newport Aquarium a great place for great people!
November 2016 – Gil Brummett
Gil has gone above and beyond in his role as a PR Video Production intern here at the Aquarium. He has a vision and sees it through from start to finish. A perfect example this month, he came to us with an idea to create an “Office” type satirical video about Mermaids. His idea: a Day in the life of a Mermaid. He wrote a script, we reviewed it, he cast his actors, chose the scenes, and coordinated the shoot dates. He shot the video, and worked with “Calliope” the mermaid, as well as NAQ cast members. Gil leads with love, and is truly passionate about working here. You can see that passion in the videos he creates and stories he tells. The video turned out phenomenal! We posted it on YouTube and Facebook, and it’s on track to be our most popular post on Facebook this year! A true volunteer, with a dedication to perfecting his craft, Gil devotes countless hours afterhours – when he finishes editing and assembling each video production he works on. We are so fortunate to have Gil’s talents here. He is such a professionalism, and a pleasure to work with!
Nominate a Volunteer for Volunteer of the Month
The VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH Award is our symbol of achievement, recognizing special service to our guests and each other. The VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH Award Program offers every member of the team the opportunity to say “Thank You” in a visible, personal way.
The pursuit of excellence does not end with achievement. It begins there. The VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH Award Program celebrates the exceptional service that we are striving to provide every day in all our dealings with guests and each other.
You don’t have to be a volunteer or employee at Newport Aquarium in order to nominate someone for Volunteer of the Month. If you have seen a volunteer go above and beyond the call of duty and you think they deserve recognition, click below to download the Volunteer of the Month Nomination Form, fill it out, and email to firstname.lastname@example.org.