This past year PEEC piloted a new youth minor–mentor volunteer program. Ana (8) and Olie (5) were paired with some of our most experienced teen volunteers as a way to introduce volunteerism to the younger members of our community.
Ana was the perfect candidate to headstart this program. For about six months during her kindergarten year, she started and ran a very informal nature-saving club at Chamisa elementary school. Every Monday at recess she would have meetings with other students to brainstorm ways to save nature. The main goals were to protect flowers and pick up trash around the playground. Her passion to help the environment was brought to the nature center and the minor–mentor program was born. Her younger brother Olie was keen to follow in her footsteps. We hope you enjoy reading about these two community members making a difference.
PEEC: What are your volunteer jobs at PEEC?
A.S.(8): I help take care of all the animals. I feed them and clean their exhibits.
O.S.(5): My jobs are to help people, like sitting at the welcome desk or setting up the planetarium for shows.
PEEC: What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
A.S.(8): The thing I like most is being around the animals and my mentor Will (Will Schmidt is a teen-volunteer that mentors Ana). We help get work done and help keep the animals alive.
O.S.(5): I like sitting at the desk in the volunteer chair, the welcoming chair. Volunteering makes me feel good. I get important work done.
PEEC: What activities do you do together?
A.S.(8): We like to play cars and play together. We both like soccer and are interested in books.
O.S.(5): Ana and I play school together and piano.
PEEC: How did you get involved with PEEC?
A.S.(8): One day I was with my dad and brother at PEEC’s Earth Day festival and I saw Mrs. Siobhan (PEEC educator). I asked if I could volunteer and she told me who to ask.
O.S.(5): Ana started volunteering and I wanted to too!
PEEC: What outdoor hobbies do you enjoy?
A.S.(8): I like taking hikes and camping and playing outside with family and friends.
O.S.(5): Playing soccer and camping.
PEEC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Los Alamos?
A.S.(8): Go to PEEC!
O.S.(5): Go to PEEC!
(Yes, they independently gave this same answer!)
PEEC: Why is it important to take care of nature?
A.S.(8): If nature disappears, then there will be no life on Earth!
O.S.(5): Because there are things that are living!
PEEC: If you could have one wish, what would it be?
A.S.(8): That people take better care of nature.
O.S.(5): To have a robot puppy!
PEEC: Have you learned anything new working at PEEC?
A.S.(8): There is an animal called the whip scorpion! That it is possible to volunteer.
O.S.(5): I learned about the jobs at PEEC.
PEEC: Which animal at PEEC is your favorite?
A.S.(8): The salamanders because they can breathe underwater through their skin (I read that in a book)!
O.S.(5): Bullsnake because he’s my favorite kind of snake.
PEEC: If you could be an animal which would you pick?
A.S.(8): A snowy owl because they can survive in very cold places and I like to go to really cold places.
O.S.(5): A cheetah because they’re fast.
-If you are interested in learning more about the PEEC minor-mentor volunteer program and the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Road visit peecnture.org. We are looking for mentors that can help younger volunteers!
Article by Christa Tyson, PEEC Visitor Services Manager