For the last 14 years, Science World has been so fortunate to have Chris Hamming, former high school math and science teacher of 37 years, as a core volunteer in our Search: Sarah Stern Gallery. We caught up with Chris for this interview to thank him for his amazing presence in the gallery and to ask him about his experience as a long-time volunteer.
Why did you choose to volunteer with Science World and in the Search gallery?
Chris: My background in high school and university education is in the math and science department. I was a math and science teacher for 37 years. Retirement was coming up. In Vancouver there was a conference about retirement. The simple message: keep busy, keep active. One day I was visiting Science World with my granddaughters and saw the sign: Volunteer Opportunities. I met Gloria (the volunteer coordinator at the time), had an interview and filled in some forms. After a while I heard that I could start volunteering. Since I was still teaching full time, I took shifts on Saturdays. Once my school teaching days were over, I switched over to Tuesday all day. Search Gallery was my gallery of choice because of my love of nature. I enjoy the great outdoors and spend a lot of time enjoying the natural world.
What do you like most about volunteering?
Chris: Volunteering at Science World is such a unique opportunity for me to meet people from all over the world and show them animals from Canada as well as other places. It is very rewarding for me to see very excited kids come into Search and look at and touch all the different animals or their skulls and pelts. They love petting the beaver, climbing in the Cedar tree, learning about bees, “oohing” and “awing” at the corn snakes and gazing with mouths wide open at the size of Stan, the T. Rex. It amazes them that the flower of the Titum Aran is big enough to be used as a baby bath, and that insects can look like sticks or dead leaves.
The time I spend in the KEVA Gallery is also very exciting. To me it is a gallery full of energy. There are great opportunities for young and old to show their creative abilities together with patience and persistence. They admire their creations with great feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. The personalities, enthusiasm and insight of staff and fellow volunteers are making Science World such an exciting place to be part of.
Do you have a favourite story from your interactions with visitors in the Search gallery?
Chris: The most rewarding thing that happens in Search is the times when little 5 or 6 year olds grab me by the hand and lead me all over the gallery, looking at all the various items on display and asking me about them.