Saturday, April 16, 2016

Volunteer Spotlight: Frank Handler

It is my (Zofia's) honor to highlight Frank Handler, a former board member-turned-citizen scientist. Before serving at PTMSC, Frank was a board member at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, CA from 1992-2000. He holds a BA in Chemistry from College of the Holy Cross, an MBA from New York University, an MA in Marine Biology from Occidental College, and is a graduate of the Navy Officer Candidate School. I distinctly remember Frank's best piece of advice, which he conferred me during our first meeting last fall: "It's what you do, not when you do it." I hope this transcript of our conversation does his embodiment of this counsel justice.
Frank keenly observing the beach outside PTMSC during
January's Brown Bag Lunch on Nature Journaling

How long have you been a Marine Science Center volunteer?
I was a board member from 2002-2009 (Development Chair), and have been working as a citizen scientist on the SoundToxins project since September 2015.

Are you a member of the Marine Science Center?

In what capacity do you volunteer here?
I do SoundToxins and I hope, since I retired in September, to get involved in some other Citizen Science efforts like the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. I like Citizen Science because it is more behind-the-scenes work, and provides opportunities for more one-on-one interactions. The interaction of scientific ideas through collaboration and communication is key — our curiosity connects us [scientists].

What aspect of the Marine Science Center’s work resonates with you?
PTMSC's focus on marine sustainability...[and], the [volunteers and staff] are exceptionally enthusiastic and dedicated. They really believe in what they're doing and want to make a difference.

What is your favorite day or memory of volunteering so far?
[Past]: As a board member aboard [get it??] the Adventuress, I had the opportunity to spend quality time with other people during a day sail. [Recently]: Also, discovering the Sound Toxins program. Formerly, I had a career as a chemist and for two years I was a marine biologist so getting back into the lab was quite fun.

What is your personal relationship/connection with the Salish Sea?
I feel connected to, and part of, the whole ocean — I've always lived on (in New York City, Rhode Island, Los Angeles, Seattle, and now Port Townsend), in (as an Active Duty Navy Officer for three years; Reserve for 10), or under the ocean (as a SCUBA diver). I can't live away from it. As an NYC native, and seeing how heavily populated Long Island Sound is, I realize the Salish Sea is a natural wonderland; I want to see it preserved and kept healthy.

What inspires you, personally?
My kids, Scott and Kate. They are the joy of my life.

Can you tell me about a particular experience or moment of awe you’ve had with the Salish Sea that’s stuck with you?
[Thinking of the Salish Sea as part of the world ocean]: Being in the middle of a typhoon in the South China Sea while I was in the Navy, and when I first got SCUBA certified in Belize in 1987.

Why do you feel the Marine Science Center’s work is important to the conservation of the Salish Sea?
PTMSC articulates the issues that are undermining the health of the Salish Sea in a science-based and science-focused manner, which makes it credible. [And], inspiring children through our education programs. Instilling that first sense of awe is so important — they are the future.

Thank you, Frank, for sharing your thoughts and wisdom, and for your service to PTMSC!

ZOFIA KNOREK is the Citizen Science Educator and an AmeriCorps Member at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center

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