Meet Georgia Hilliard, Education Specialist at Monterey Bay Aquarium!
October 5, 2023
Hello, Taradiddle Writers!
Thank you again to those who submitted stories about Sachie, the giant Pacific octopus, in Taradiddle Youth Writing Contest #4.
We received many good stories! At this moment, the Taradiddle Judges are diligently reading the stories. Please stay tuned for an announcement soon of the finalists.
Meanwhile, because this contest’s featured animal is a sea animal, we caught up with Georgia Hilliard, an Education Specialist at Monterey Bay Aquarium, whose career involves being surrounded by underwater life!
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. My name is Georgia Hilliard and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I am originally from Ohio, born and raised. I have a BS from Ohio University in Marine, Freshwater, and Environmental Biology. Before I came to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I taught 9th grade biology in Memphis, Tennessee as a Teach for America Corps member and I worked as an Educator at the Memphis Zoo. Now, that I am here, I am an Education Specialist II with School Programs. This means I do all things field trips! I help teachers book field trips for their classes, I teach some of our Discovery Lab programs once classes arrive for their field trip, and I help support the rest of our teaching staff. Additionally, I lead a program called Communities Learn about Marine Science or CLAMS for short – meant to connect local youth-serving organizations and their students with the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
2) What inspired you to work at the aquarium? I was inspired to work at the aquarium because I wanted to share my love of fish with the world! When I was a student, I discovered how fascinated I am with life underwater, and I knew I wanted to spend my time talking about it. Now I am able to spend my days on the shore of the Monterey Bay and I get to see students, teachers, parents, and anyone else who comes to the Aquarium through an education program fall in love with the ocean as well.
3) What is your favorite part about working at the aquarium? My favorite part of working at the aquarium is interacting with students from all different walks of life. So many of the people I talk to have never seen the ocean or have only been to the ocean a few times before. I love learning together and having those experiences with all of our participants.
4) What are some of the challenges? One of the biggest challenges of working at the Aquarium is learning how to coordinate with large groups of people. Because the Aquarium is such a large organization with many moving parts, it takes a lot of time and effort to make such great programming happen.
5) Do you have a favorite story to share about working at the aquarium? One of my favorite stories is a bit of a silly one. During one of our summer events for the Communities Learn about Marine Science program, we were walking from the Bechtel Education Center to the main Aquarium campus and a student saw my crocs – I often wear a pair of tie dye crocs, I think I am famous for them now – and he told me that “if you ain’t croccin’, you ain’t rockin’!” I think this is one of my favorite stories because we had a chance to laugh together and I knew that the students I was with were having fun during the event, and that’s really my biggest goal whenever I’m with students.
6) What advice do you have for young people who are thinking about working at an aquarium one day? My biggest piece of advice I would give to anyone thinking about working at an aquarium is to spend a lot of time thinking about your passions. If you have a passion for the ocean, for science, for conservation, then the aquarium is the right place for you! Here you have so much opportunity to support all of those things, no matter what type of job you have.
Thank you, Georgia, for sharing your experiences working at the Monterey Bay Aquarium!
The Taradiddle Youth Writing Contests is a youth writing program of Guardian Whiskers, a nonprofit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin in the United States. As some of you may know, animals are amazing beings. In addition to providing unconditional support and healing, they also provide the greatest inspiration. Because animals are great muses, all Taradiddle writing contests are animal-themed. For more information about Guardian Whiskers, please visit here:www.guardianwhiskers.org.
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