Hi! My name is Nicole Orzechowski. I am a member of AmeriCorps Cape Cod serving at the National Marine Life Center two days a week. AmeriCorps is a federally funded organization dedicated to serving the needs of local communities across the United States. Each year for the past four years the National Marine Life Center has received a new member from AmeriCorps Cape Cod to assist with marine animal rehabilitation and educational programs; 2015-2016 is my year.
When applying for AmeriCorps Cape Cod I was immediately drawn in by the Cape’s beautiful location, the program’s dedication to environmental work and conservation, and of course the potential to make a positive impact on a local community. However, I think the real kicker came was when I was scrolling through blog posts on the ACC website. I found an old post by a member who had served at the National Marine Life Center. The story described the member’s excitement about his first day placed at NMLC and provided plenty of “AWW”-inspiring photographs of the seals and sea turtles at the hospital. I was already interested in applying to the program before reading the blog, but that post truly “sealed” the deal!
Needless to say I accepted the offer to join AmeriCorps Cape Cod and was lucky enough to be placed at the National Marine Life Center! I started working in the hospital in October and began to learn the basics behind animal care and the rehabilitation process. It was all so surreal; it’s not every day that you get the chance to work with seals and sea turtles, however, that was quickly becoming my reality. After several months of working at NMLC’s hospital, I can say that it is truly an amazing experience to aid in the rehabilitation of these animals.
Fairly recently my role at NMLC has started to shift gears. The arrival of Spring marks the season for copious educational programs and lesson planning at NMLC and I jumped onto this opportunity. What better way to spread my appreciation and knowledge about ocean conservation and biology?! So far I have assisted the director of NMLC, Kathy Zagzebski, with educational programs at several marine symposiums, and I have also designed and implemented my own lesson plan (Pondering Predators and Prey) where students learn more about the “evolutionary arms-race” between ocean predators and prey. There are so many more opportunities to come in these last few months at NMLC, and I am very excited to see where the rest of this year will take me.