Working with Wildlife


This is an image of Gigi the Florida Box Turtle. Gigi was a surrendered pet which is how he ended up at Sandoway. Gigi loves to go on walks in the park and eat lots of fruits.

Riley Nowicki, Contributor

Every Saturday for three hours I get the amazing opportunity to volunteer at Sandoway Nature and Discovery Center. You may think that volunteering outside of school isn’t fun because you don’t get to see your friends during that time, or that volunteering is just boring in general. Where I volunteer though, I do not experience this. Sandoway is right on the beach so not only do I get to work with wildlife, but always an amazing view at the same time. When I first get to Sandoway I sign myself in and grab my name tag so visitors can ask me questions about the animals or the house in general. The house is a historical house which makes it even more valuable to me and the community as well. The animals I work with the most are Gigi the Florida Box Turtle, and Monty the Ball Python. Gigi is easier to handle since she is just a turtle, but what is really weird is that Gigi is a people person which is my she is my favorite animal at Sandoway. I can take her out whenever I want to introduce her to people or just to take her on walks at the park next to Sandoway. Everyone passing by will stare at Gigi and me wondering what is going on which makes volunteering there even more exciting. Handling Monty the Ball Python is a completely different story. I have never been truly afraid of snakes but I would prefer not to handle them. I eventually grew out of this fear though and conquered it by learning how to handle Monty. Since he is a snake it sometimes is a little bit harder to hold them because they are constantly moving which is why I was initially scared. Working with Monty though is an experience that I won’t forget since there was a lot to learn about the snake in general, and overcoming my fear. I also get to work the touch tank for visitors who want to touch the animals inside. The animals include a sea cucumber, two chocolate chip sea stars, an egg urchin, pencil urchins, and hermit crabs. I get to tell guests about all the animals that live in the tanks and I love to see their reactions when I tell them specific facts about the sea creatures.

Another aspect of volunteering at Sandoway is getting to meet all new people there whether it be visitors or new volunteers. When I first started out at Sandoway I did not really know any of the other volunteers there besides my manager, but I grew out of my comfort zone and met some other amazing volunteers while working there. We are all around the same age range which makes it even easier to make friends. My favorite volunteers at Sandoway include Tiffany, Ingrid, and Lillian. Every Saturday we see each other and we make so many memories together that I will never forget, whether it be changing the Newt’s water, or doing the touch tank for other visitors together. Some older volunteers who also work there include Zach, and Amanda. They teach me so much every time I volunteer that it really educates me on what is truly happening to the environment around us. These are just some of the people working at Sandoway that make my experience there even more worthwhile.

The addition of volunteering in my free time really gives me a new outlook on how I can make more use of my time rather than just sitting and watching TV. It gives me something to look forward to each weekend because I know I will experience new things. Next time you get the opportunity to go volunteer somewhere I strongly encourage you to do it because you never know the new things you will learn while there, or memories you will make at the same time.