Thursday, April 14, 2016

Volunteer Appreciation: an interview with Betty Petrie

Today I sat down with Betty Petrie to ask about her experience as a volunteer for the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. Originally from Houston, Texas, Betty has been living in Port Townsend for the past 18 years and has been volunteering with us for just as long! 

How long have you been a Marine Science Center Volunteer? 
18 years. 

Are you a member of the Marine Science Center?

In what capacity do you volunteer here?
Homecrew: 18 years
On the board of directors: 3 years
Docenting the Marine Exhibit: 18 years
I also help out with fishprinting.

I used to docent at the cold water tank at the Houston Zoo and I taught zoology, so this was an easy transition. Years ago, docents used to give short presentations to the public about different subjects. I have presented about a lot of different topics such as crabs and whale evolution.

What aspect of the Marine Science Center's work resonates with you?
Just about everything really. But I really enjoy telling people what the different animals and plants are, what they do, and how they live. During homecrew, I like to clean the tanks so I can see all the new animals close up without a big crowd. 

What was your favorite day or memory of volunteering so far? 
That is hard to say, but flintsing the Grey Whale was definitely the best. I have never seen so many maggots in one place! 

What is your personal relationship/connection with the Salish Sea?
We saw so much of it from our boat when we first moved out here. At first it freaked me out because it was salt water and yet it was so clear. I could see all the animals! It also surprised me how deep it was and how quickly it became so deep.  I was not used to that coming from the Gulf of Mexico. 
On one of my first trips to downtown, I looked at the pilings at low tide and noticed all the animals! I thought to myself that I could have taught a whole zoology class right there. 

What inspires you, personally?
I am an active person, I like to move around and check things out. When I am in my boat I like to see what is at the bottom of the ocean, and I like to see what might be coming up with my crab pots. 

Can you tell me about a particular experience or moment of awe you've had with the Salish Sea that's stuck with you?
I saw a big pod of Orcas from Spieden Island. You can hike on it and at the far end we saw Orcas. I also saw many humpback whales. 

Why do you feel the Marine Science Center's work is important to the conservation of the Salish Sea? 

Mostly because it is giving people the awareness of what is going on and the realization of individual need to stop pollution. It shows people what is around and that you need to keep it pristine.

KATIE CONROY is the Marine Mammal Stranding Educator and an AmeriCorps member serving at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.


  1. Betty is such an inspiration! She knows so much about the Marine Exhibit and can explain the behavior of our animals over many years. I always learn so much from her during Homecrew.


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