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Aquarium Honors Outstanding Volunteer for Dedicated Service
Pacific Grove resident recognized for her exceptional contributions
Each year the Monterey Bay Aquarium has the challenging task of selecting an exemplary volunteer from over 1,000 volunteers as the recipient of the Lucile S. Packard Memorial Award for outstanding service.
This year’s honoree – Virginia Russell of Pacific Grove – is recognized as an individual “whose dedication and selfless service exemplify Mrs. Packard’s lifelong commitment to volunteerism.” Award criteria include the impact of the individual’s activities on the aquarium, their commitment to the aquarium’s mission, objectives, and goals, and their length of service and number of hours contributed.
The awards will be presented at the aquarium’s annual volunteer gala on June 22.
All of the Lucile Packard Award honorees epitomize the hallmarks of aquarium volunteers: service to others, commitment to the aquarium’s mission, and a love of nature. Each honoree is outstanding in different ways, and Virginia Russell is no exception.
Virginia Russell began volunteering in the fall of 2005 and has contributed 4,045 hours of service. As a guide, tour leader, husbandry volunteer, diver and mentor, Russell has gone above and beyond the call of duty by sacrificing her personal preferences to volunteer wherever she is most needed.
“Her smile, warmth, and enthusiasm for the aquarium and ocean conservation are at the core of every tour that Virginia leads,” said one aquarium employee. “She truly knows how to make an emotional connection with her audience and inspires them to care for the oceans.”
Russell has performed many popular Kelp Forest narrations, having learned to present this program from the “wet side” as a volunteer diver. While Russell serves as a mentor herself, she frequently seeks feedback from staff so that her programs are continually connecting to and resonating with guests. Additionally, she is one of the aquarium’s most active divers, participating on three separate volunteer dive teams and logging over 300 dives during her nearly nine years of service.
“Virginia epitomizes the spirit of the Lucile Packard Award,” says Jim Covel, senior manager of guest experiences. “She would be the first to say the smiles on the faces of the guests she works with are the best reward for her efforts.”
Mrs. Packard, along with her husband David Packard, made the initial gift to build the aquarium. She was the driving force behind creation of the aquarium’s internationally acclaimed volunteer program. More than 1,200 individuals are currently active volunteers at the aquarium. Collectively, they donated 13,339 hours every month in 2012, for an annual total of 160,059 hours.
The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans. To learn more, visit the aquarium’s website at www.montereybayaquarium.org.