Kelsey Hamblen 'reaches for the stars' at the Maine State Aquarium and so can you

Posted:  Thursday, June 8, 2017 - 7:15am
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The Maine State Aquarium welcomes back veteran volunteer Kelsey Hamblen for her third consecutive season. As a summer resident of Boothbay Harbor, she spends 12 hours a week sharing her knowledge and passion of Maine’s marine life with visitors from around the world, plus she works as the weekend receptionist. These experiences have been very rewarding for Kelsey and she encourages others to join her in “reaching for the stars.”

Kelsey’s love for the ocean dates back to her early childhood. A resident of Norwich, Vermont, her summer stays with grandparents Susi and Dave Hamblen always included several trips to the Aquarium. She recalls begging them to take her to the Aquarium so that she could hold the animals in the touch tank and pet the sharks.

When Kelsey decided to spend the entire summer in Boothbay Harbor, she immediately contacted DMR Education Director Elaine Jones and asked if she could volunteer. That decision to give back to the Aquarium, and to share her love of its creatures with others, changed her life forever. She not only discovered how rewarding it was to inspire others, she realized that she was learning a great deal about animal husbandry – meaningful experiences that would influence her future.

During Kelsey’s senior year of high school, she decided that she was not ready for college, but was certain that marine biology was her field of choice. She searched for gap year opportunities and was fortunate to land placement with two research facilities: a marine lab in South Africa and the Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas. At both facilities, she gained valuable experiences, plus she fulfilled a dream of swimming with sharks. Kelsey feels that her volunteer services at the Maine State Aquarium not only gave her the competitive edge for these placements, but showed admission staff at Eckerd College in Florida that she was committed to the field of marine biology and ready to join the class of 2021 this fall.

The Maine State Aquarium depends upon volunteers to ensure a quality visitor experience. They have a great group of interns and volunteers who keep animals healthy and guests happy. No matter what your skills, there’s a place for you behind the touch tanks, in the Discovery Center, on the fishing dock, and behind the lobster trap. So, young and old alike (including retired lobstermen), sign up to share your love of the ocean and its fisheries with others. A volunteer application can be found at: www.maine.gov/dmr/education/aquarium or you can stop by the Aquarium at 194 McKown Point Rd., West Boothbay Harbor any day of the week. You, too, can “become a star.”