A day in the life of a volunteer - By Shona Swart


I walk into the centre at 9am, the taste of an apple crumble muffin and iced long black for breakfast still lingering on my lips, to be greeted by three friendly faces. Georgie Kenning, Marine Scientist and caring educator, introduces herself and proceeds to feed the South Australian fish in their tanks. Karno Martin, Cultural Educator and genius with children, immediately strikes up an easy conversation with me. Carmen Bishop, the partnerships and marketing manager passes me a fluorescent vest and laminated sheet full of marine creatures and minerals found on Henley Beach, and welcomes me to the centre. We wait outside and watch as a school bus full of children pours out of the front of the centre. It’s going to be a busy day!

Georgie, Karno and Carmen introduce the children, parents and teachers to the centre, Karno poking his tongue out at giggling group of year 3’s. We are notified that the day consists of ‘beachcombing’ and a tour of the centre itself. My role today is to supervise the children and answer any questions they might have while on the beach and in the centre. We start with a vital aspect of the day; recess. Once the kids have energy to get started, we mosey on over to the beach. The kids buzz with excitement and conversation, and I admit I too am excited. We find our way to the beach, and I take a silent moment of reflection. How lucky am I, that my office for the day is Henley Beach, spending time with new people and participating in educating the future of our society? We potter around, and a confident young boy struts up to me, “This is a crab shell, isn’t it?” I nod my head yes, gesture to a circle drawn in the sand and ask, “Where does that go?” He places it in the top quarter of the bisected circle, along with the other crustacean remnants found on the beach. “Well done!” I exclaim with a smile, giving him a high 5. I have several other interactions like this, kids categorising their findings.

The hour draws to a close, and we head back for lunch. I sip on a cup of peppermint tea and chat with some other volunteers who dropped in today. We then hear that we can explore the inside of the centre. The first room we visit is a science and technology room where there are notable virtual reality devices showing South Australian creatures in an immersive, underwater experience. The second room is focused on sustainability in every aspect; from rubbish sorting to a timeline of how long each piece of trash will take to biodegrade. Another room is comprised of South Australian marine life like the pot-bellied seahorse and puffer fish. Finally, a cultural experience is present where Kaurna speaker Karno talks of dreamtime stories and living off the land. The day reaches its end, and I am thanked for my help before departing. I’m definitely coming back here.

Written by Shona Swart