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How long have you been volunteering
at the Museum?
I first volunteered last year. I chose to work there
for my week-long eighth-grade internship. Then, over
the summer, I worked in collections for the Junior
Volunteer Program.
What made you start volunteering here?
I have always been interested in science and have
participated in several regional and state science fairs.
Dr. Sourakov and Dr. Willmott invited me to work
with them on some very interesting projects, and I
saw this as a great opportunity.
What do you do for the Museum?
I worked in the butterfly collections. I pinned
butterfly specimens from Ecuador, and arranged
others into the display cases. I also helped with
research on classification by preparing specimens
for genetic analysis and creating detailed drawings
using a microscope.
What kind of training did you receive when you
first started volunteering?
First, Dr. Sourakov would demonstrate how to do
each project. I had to learn many processes including
how to pin the butterflies, use the microscope, and
properly label the specimens. Then, when I was
comfortable with them, I was able to continue with
the rest on my own. In butterfly collections, most of
the training is specific to the individual projects.
Has volunteering at the Museum helped you
develop any new skills?
Many of the tasks I had to do were very time-
consuming and challenging. I had to be extremely
patient in order to do everything accurately. One of
my projects was organizing the butterflies into species
based on appearance. At first glance, they all seemed
the same, but I learned to pay close attention to minor
details to categorize them correctly.
What activities are you involved in outside of
the Museum?
I am a freshman in the International Baccalaureate
program at Eastside High School. The clubs I am
involved in include the EHS Striders (for breast cancer
awareness) and Spanish Club. Outside of school, I take
dance classes at Pofahl’s Studios and perform in
Next Generation, a student dance group.
What do you enjoy the most about
It is a unique opportunity for me to learn directly
from scientists who have many years of experience.
The questions they are trying to find answers to are
new and interesting.
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for
people thinking about volunteering here?
I would advise people thinking about volunteering
here to check out the Junior Volunteer Program for the
summer. There are many different options as to the
positions, and the program enables people to choose a
variety of jobs or just one. Also, don’t be intimidated by
the interview when you apply. The process is simple
and the people are really friendly.
VOLUNTEER profile:
Jacqueline Kessler _____________________________
A newsletter of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity
Florida Museum of Natural History
April 2012
Volunteer Profiles
Staff News
Student News
From the editor:
Volunteers play a vital role
in many of the McGuire
Center’s research programs.
Every spring and fall, new
volunteers may interview for
positions to assist McGuire
Center staff in the collections
or laboratories. During the
last two years, select students
from area schools have also
been recruited to work in the
collections as part of the Florida
Museum’s Junior Volunteer
Program. These students help
researchers with their projects
while learning to handle
specimens and appreciate
collections-based scientific
research. Considering the
shortage of funds for paid
technical assistants, the
number of research projects
and the size of the McGuire
Center’s collections, the
contributions of our volunteers
are invaluable.
Readers have the opportunity
to meet some of these special
volunteers in this issue.
Questions about volunteer
opportunities should be
directed to Florida Museum
Volunteer Coordinator Amy
whose help with conducting
the following interviews is
greatly appreciated.
Jacqueline Kessler prepares butterfly specimens.