Sea Center Texas WANTS YOU

Mary Helen Israel | Volunteer | Sea Center Texas, Lake Jackson
Sea Center Texas WANTS YOU
Volunteer John Boettiger engaging a school group during a facility tour.
Sea Center Texas has one of the most versatile and active volunteer groups in the Texas Parks and Wildlife system. You may be asking, who and why would anyone want to be a volunteer? According to Webster's dictionary - a volunteer is one who enters into any service of their own free will. Volunteering can be one of the most satisfying things you can do, particularly if you enjoy being around people. There are many different ways and places to volunteer, and there is great value in volunteering, both in value to yourself and to others. This value is not necessarily monetary, but value in your surroundings. Examples range from docents to highway and/or beach clean-ups. Some benefits of volunteering are that it can connect you to your community and make it a better place.

My name is Mary Helen Israel and I have served as a volunteer at Sea Center Texas (SCT) for 19 years. During that time, it has been easy to see that SCT is a place that brings joy to the hearts and minds of volunteers and visitors. We have the privilege of introducing the public, particularly youth, to the importance and pleasures of our coastal waters and biota. Visitors learn about sea life (fish in particular), coastal conservation, and fishing. And, I would like to tell you a little about our volunteer activities.

SCT volunteers are involved in most activities conducted at the facility's visitor center and youth fishing ponds. Volunteers can serve as greeters, touch tank workers, tour guides, in gift shop sales, fishing mentors, and perform lots of other duties. As you can guess, greeters are the first people you see upon entering the facility. They are always ready with a smile on their face to welcome you, and explain what we have to offer. This service is particularly suited for those who enjoy meeting people. Greeters are knowledgeable about tour schedules and facility operations. They also become familiar with other local places to go for fun, and receive a lot of questions about good places to eat. These are common questions from our visitors as many are from out-of-town, out-of-state, and even from foreign countries.

As a touch tank volunteer, you will get to meet lots of people but the majority of your time is spent educating the public about animals that live in our coastal waters. Watching the joy on a child's face who touches a crab, sea anemone, and other sea life will bring a special warmth to your heart. And, then there are the tour guides. This is a very important service as these individuals tell the story of our fish hatchery operations. As they lead children and adults through our hatchery facility, they explain the process of spawning fish, rearing juvenile fishes, and releasing hatchery-reared fishes into the wild. Information about the three fish species (red drum, spotted seatrout, and southern flounder) we work with is generously offered. You can be assured that there will be lots of discussion about the millions of hatchery-reared fishes that have been released into the Texas bays, and the associated good fishing in our coastal waters. Another opportunity for volunteers is in the gift shop, selling all of the fun things we have available for visitors as memorabilia of their visit. Gift shop volunteers are gracious, and display a willingness to meet the visitor's needs. This job involves working a cash register during sales.

If you like to fish we have a place for you. The youth fishing program is extremely popular, and requires a lot of effort (and sweat during warm weather) to keep it going. This program is run by a group of volunteer mentors who love to teach kids, both young and old, how to fish. Most of our fishing events are open to the public for groups of 10-20, but space is limited so it is best to confirm by reservation. SCT regularly schedules events for children with disabilities, and some of the local Assisted Living and Nursing Homes bring their residents to fish. If you want to really be overcome with delight just help a special-needs child in a wheelchair bring in that "big" red drum and look at the joy in that child's face. Life doesn't get much better than that!

Our outdoor wetlands are a popular attraction and provide other volunteer possibilities; we do lots of landscaping that can use volunteers who like to put their hands in dirt and mud! There's planting and weeding of the wildflower and hummingbird/butterfly gardens, and regular watering and trimming to keep them looking neat.

Sea Center Texas is a wonderful facility with lots of opportunities (those mentioned and many others not mentioned) for those who want to volunteer. It's a fun place to be. We cordially invite you to join us as a Sea Center Texas volunteer. For information about the facility and volunteer opportunities go to: or call at 979.292.0100.