Eastwood Associate Volunteers Share Enthusiasm, Cultivate Awareness
Kitty Wallin never dreamed she’d be involved with a museum of science and natural history. “In high school, I wasn’t even able to see through a microscope!” she says. That was before she encountered the California Academy of Sciences.
Today, as an Academy guide, Kitty is one of 1,400 volunteers who share their passion for the natural world with visitors of all ages. And as an Eastwood Associate, she’s made a gift through her will that ensures the future of an institution she never imagined she could love so much.
Kitty had visited the old Academy with her children, and as a volunteer at the de Young Museum, she excitedly watched the new Academy come together. When the call went out for volunteers, Kitty decided to sign up. “The instructors assured me that sheer enthusiasm for what you’re seeing is the most important qualification,” she says.
Indeed, volunteering doesn’t require a science degree; everything volunteers need to know—including staffing the specimen carts, working with live animals, and discussing the Academy’s groundbreaking sustainability features—they learn at the Academy. The instructors, Kitty says, are just part of an incredible community that feels like family. “I have found my fellow guides to be extraordinary human beings—generous with their time, energy, and knowledge,” she says.
Kitty loves introducing youngsters to Claude, the albino alligator; Pierre, the famous wetsuit-wearing African penguin; and the hard-to-see Jackson chameleons in Africa Hall. She enjoys helping visitors connect with features they loved in the old Academy. And she loves telling the story of Alice Eastwood, the pioneering curator who saved precious botanical specimens after the 1906 earthquake and inspired the Eastwood Associates. “It feels so special to put on that orange coat and meet the guests,” she says. “It’s all about giving others the best possible Academy experience.”