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Jillian Swinford: My experience as VLM Aquarium Intern

My name is Jillian Swinford and I volunteer at the Virginia Living Museum as an Aquarist Assistant.  I currently go to school at Christopher Newport University and am majoring in Environmental Biology with the hopes to go into Marine Biology, somehow, and the VLM has been a good place to start.  I had been volunteering for half a year at the touch tank when the opportunity arose for me to work behind the scenes in aquariums, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Most of the tasks I do involve cleaning tanks and feeding the animals, as well as doing water chem, but now I am determined to either get in one of the exhibits or go out collecting, which I think I should be able to do both soon. Hopefully. My favorite thing to do here is attempt to feed the turtle, however, he/she isn’t always the easiest to work with and sometimes we get annoyed with each other. I also love to go and feed the seahorses…they are always so adorable.  Probably one of the coolest experiences I’ve had here was when I got to go release some flounder at Yorktown beach…I hope to have more of those experiences or go out collecting.  I am glad that I have had this opportunity and have learned so much, and I am coming back next semester (and the rest of next year) to work again. I know, crazy, however, it’s probably one of my favorite parts about being down here during the school year! I mean, how many other people can tell their friends that the feed a shark and a turtle on a weekly basis?

Jillian with Sea urchin
Jillian with various cleaning supplies

1 Comment

  • Patty Baker

    Jillian – Your experience sounds exactly like the experience and direction that my son would like to take. He is currently a sophomore in high school, and he is interested in both CNU and Marine Biology. How did you get started here at the Living Museum?