Since 1974 Westwood resident John Masterson has been voluteering at the New England Aquarium. Over those 38 years, he has donated 9,434 hours of his time to the NEAQ.
Recently, at Volunteer Appreciation Night 2012, Masterson was one of 12 volunteers to receive the President's Call to Service Award. This was the first time this award was given, and Lace Garland, the Manager of Volunteer Programs and Internships announced the award, with the names lit up on the huge IMAX screen in the IMAX Theater.
The winners also received a letter from President Obama, which stated in part, "Congratulations on receiving the award, and thank you for helping to address the most pressing needs in your community and our country."
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Patch: What was your reaction when you found out you had won this award?
Masterson: When you consider there are over 200 volunteers donating time to the NEAQ and I was one of the 12, it was a total surprise. I am grateful to Lace for the award.
Patch: When did you start volunteering at the aquarium?
Masterson: My volunteer service began in January 1974. At that time I was a member of the Boston Aquarium Society that had been meeting monthly (except June and July) at the NEAQ. The agreement with the NEAQ was that we could meet rent space for free if some of the members would come on board as volunteers in the NEAQ. The first couple of years I worked in the curitorial department assisting in the upkeepof the exhibit tanks. The I switched to the Education Department of Visitor Services. I spend my time on Thursdays in the exhibitareas talking to visitors about the various exhibits, their fishes and other animals in the tanks.
Patch: What else do you do at the aquarium these days?
Masterson: Each Thursday morning an Education Supervisor holds a 30 minute get together to go over any new items. And these days with the $12,000,000 renovation on going at night while the building is closed there are usually quite a few items to do with construction and safety even though the construction areas are closed to the public. The center of the renovation is the Giant Ocean Tank (GOT),the 200,000 gallon round tank that is four stories tall. It will become an acrylic tank with additional new exhibits at the base and the top.The African and Rock Hopper penguins have gone south for the winter, south shore that is. The Little Blue penguins have moved into a temporary exhibit are reached from out back of the building. The former penguin "tray" is now the "Tropical Ocean Exhibit" or "TOE".