Environmental Nature Center (ENC) volunteer Emma Kensington was awarded the ENC’s Volunteer of the Year Award yesterday at the Taste of Twilight member appreciation dinner. Despite the demands of normal teenage life, the 17-year-old Newport Beach resident volunteered over 300 hours at the ENC over the past three years.
“I love to volunteer at the ENC because I love seeing children enjoy the learning process,” said Kensington. “I will never forget all of the amazing experiences I have had at the ENC, where I was inspired to be my own true self and person. I learned many skills and developed an amazing work ethic that will take me far in life.”
Emma began her ENC volunteer career as a Junior Naturalist, helping young Nature Campers to learn and have fun during Nature Camps. She loved it so much that she didn’t want to wait until the next Camp to volunteer again. In 2010 she asked to be trained to be a Museum Docent, and since then she has helped staff the front desk.
“I couldn’t ask for a more gregarious, eloquent, intelligent, independent and friendly person to represent the Nature Center to our guests,” said ENC Education and Community Relations Director Lori Whalen. “I was so impressed by her maturity that I invited her to be my Assistant Camp Director this past Summer.”
As the Assistant Camp Director, Emma communicated with campers’ parents, took role, snapped photos and kept the ENC’s social media up to date. She was also responsible for supervising at least 10 other teenagers, making sure that the Junior Naturalist volunteers completed their tasks.
Over 600 people volunteered at the ENC in the 2012-13 fiscal year, giving almost 9000 hours of their time. 4000 of those hours were given by student volunteers like Emma, and over 3000 of those hours were given by just 60 teenagers – an average of about 50 hours each.
“50 hours is a COMMITMENT to a teenager – and we had 60 of them here last year that spent that sort of time with us,” said Whalen. “If you’re looking to find amazing selfless teenagers, just visit the ENC.”