In fact, it was one of their first “crisi-tunities”—what Pauline and her co-workers dubbed a major dilemma that created an opportunity for big change.
And make a big change they did.
Her team packed up their equipment and lived in a Fraser Valley hotel, delivering programming to schools and community centres there for an entire month. “They opened their doors to us. They provided storage for materials and outreach vans. They were thrilled. And staff got to keep doing what the loved.”
Pauline says this experience contributed to a shift in her understanding of service.
“We weren’t just working in a community, or for a community. We were working with the community.”
Mucking Around in Delight
Pauline grew up on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, the youngest of nine children.
Her parents owned a contracting business, and she remembers a yard full of heavy equipment, trucks and construction materials. “We had a lot of freedom, and a lot of access to neat stuff,” she laughs.
In her earliest memory of wonder, she’s a young child sitting in a large concrete ring, peeling dandelion stems, and dropping them into jars of water.
“I was making pickles!” she says. “And the stems would curl into these tighter and tighter little funky twirls. I thought it was fantastic. You know how fascinating water is when you’re a kid?”
Pauline says facilitating moments like this is Science World’s “special sauce.”
“Being able to provide a variety of experiences, where folks can muck around and discover, is so important. If you catch learners in a moment of delight and novelty, with no pressure and just super positive fun, the places they can go next…well, it sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s truly limitless.”
Growing Up With Science World
“I feel like I grew up at Science World or, like I grew up with Science World,” Pauline says.
In 1993, as a 20-year-old undergraduate student studying animal biology at UBC, she started volunteering for our Scientists and Innovators in Schools program.
“The facilitators who trained me made me feel confident. Like, ‘I can do this. Kids want to hear from me. I can help them get excited about science and nature.’”
And that’s exactly what she’s been doing ever since.
Ten years after she first volunteered, she returned to the dome accepting her first paid position as Associate Director of Community Outreach. She spent 14 years with the organization, ultimately becoming Vice President, Community Engagement & Visitor Experience, a role she held until 2018.
“It changed me,” she says. “It changed me professionally and it changed me in my life.”