“Volunteering gave me something to do as a young person, it gave me a purpose and taught me about life.” These are the words of college student, Tyler Black, a volunteer who was nominated by The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. We are thrilled to honor Tyler as our February Volunteer of the Month and to celebrate everything he has done to give back to his community.
When Lisa Slinsky, Assistant Director of Volunteer and Community Service at The Maritime Aquarium, first spoke to me about Tyler, she could not stop raving about him. She said he was a very special young person and we had to honor him. Tyler came to The Maritime Aquarium through a program called Youth Works, that helps low income families find internships for their children. This was Tyler’s second internship; his first was at the Doubletree Hilton during his sophomore and junior years of high school. Encouraged by his family and social worker, he started at The Maritime Aquarium in August 2017 and completed over 400 hours by December. He was required to do 20 hours a week, but he loved what he was doing so much, he often did many more.
When I asked Tyler what he loved most about volunteering at the aquarium, he said working with the animals and teaching people to care about them. His work as a gallery ambassador gave him the opportunities to teach others about these animals and he said people are always surprised about how important they are to the environment. He became an expert on the touch tanks where visitors can touch turtle shells, horseshoe crabs, fighter crabs, jellies, stingrays. He said it was very important to relay information to the guests so he can help protect the animals.
Born in Bridgeport, CT, Tyler and his family have lived in Norwalk, Westport and Stamford. He graduated from Staples High School in 2017 and completed two semesters at Norwalk Community College before transferring to Temple University in Philadelphia in January 2018 to study biology. He said once he gets settled at school he will look into volunteer opportunities in Philadelphia. He plans to join some clubs and see if maybe he can work at another aquarium.
I asked Tyler what he would say to his peers to motivate them to volunteer and he said “volunteer gives you something to do, gets you out of the house and just knowing that you are doing something for someone or something else is amazing. If you put a positive outlook on it and think about what you are doing it’s a great experience.” He credits his supervisor, Lisa, at the aquarium for helping find and sustain that positive outlook. He said they had many conversations about how important it is. As a final thought, he shared “things will happen in life no matter who you are, but it’s about your outlook, keep it positive, give back, and you have a positive future ahead of you.
On behalf of Volunteer Square and The Maritime Aquarium, we want to thank Tyler for his outstanding service to the community. Congratulations, Tyler!