We are in the final stages of moving, it is the Lunar New Year. What better way to celebrate a season of reunion and new beginnings than a volunteer tea to thank everyone who have helped us along the way!
The museum hosted a Volunteers Engagement Tea at our Learning Lab on Saturday, 28 Feb 2015, and for the first time ever, we held it at 2 Conservatory Drive, the address of our new home.
The objectives were simple: (1) To thank everyone who tirelessly volunteered their time with the museum, (2) to have a fun and informal gathering session where we solicited feedback on how to better engage volunteers as we move from our modest operations (one floor below the Science Library at the Faculty of Science) to our own building, and (3) a chance for individuals who have never volunteered with us before to find out more information and meet with existing volunteers.
It provided our volunteers and associates a chance to catch up, network, and gain a sneak preview of the new museum! From 9:30 AM to 10:00AM, the Alice Lee Plaza thronged with people who had made their way to our grounds stepping over barricades and orange tape (we are not quite a construction site, but some works are still ongoing). Lynn and Stella cheerfully welcomed everyone and made sure everyone’s name was prominently displayed on the labels. It was a meeting of old friends and new, and set the tone for the programme to follow.
The session kicked off with a welcome by our head, Professor Peter Ng. In his talk, he brought all present up to speed with the developments of the museum, and underscored the importance of continued support to keep the museum going. After more than 50 years, the natural heritage collection from the old Raffles Museum would finally have a permanent home, which would not be possible if not for generous financial contributions from all levels of society. Buoyed, by the occasion, Prof. Ng also invited Professor Leo Tan, Director of Special Projects, who was part of the team that made the museum a reality to speak.
Prof. Tan reminded us that it was essential to dream big, to be a bit crazy, to achieve our goals. The building we were housed in for tea was testament to that aspiration. It was also necessary to garner support for thoughtful environmental stewardship through public education and outreach, and it was something our volunteers had done that through the years to highlight Singapore Biodiversity to the urban Singaporean.
Lastly, Museum officer Dr. Joelle Lai spoke about volunteering at the museum. She highlight several programmes and activities our volunteers had contributed towards over the years to for a better understanding of wildlife and wild places in urban Singapore under the aegis of the museum. These activities ranged from guiding nature walks, cycling at Pulau Ubin, organising International Coastal Cleanup, outreach at various environment festivals (and in recent years, the Festival of Biodiversity), and citizen science activities such as Project Semakau. There were also volunteers who helped with the ‘back end’ of things, curating our massive collection of animals collected from locations, including places in Singapore that no longer exist, being lost to reclamation and development.
A breakout session followed where we obtained feedback from our volunteers and chatted on how to make the museum and outreach efforts stronger and better. It was a hive of activity and we had many useful suggestions from the ground up! Countless great ideas and suggestions streamed in during the 30-minute discussion before the participants were rewarded with a sneak peak of the upcoming museum!
Tea and more mingling followed. It was really great to see everyone still chatting excitedly, meeting old friends and catching up. Some of our volunteers found that they were taught by the same biology teacher at school and were seniors/juniors to each other! It was a lovely gathering of passionate people and we hope that there will be more to come in the future!