Docents of the Month – The Apprentices

The docents of the month for August are our 2007 Summer Apprentices. With many of the student docents away, and many of our community docents traveling, summer is a notoriously tough time to find volunteers for our Chimposiums. Thankfully, most of our 2007 Summer Apprentices decided to volunteer as docents, this in addition to the 30+ hours a week they were already working for the chimpanzees as part of their Apprenticeships. Altogether, they volunteered well over 150 hours to the program, and help educate 842 Chimposium guests! We absolutely could not have run our Chimposium program this summer without the Apprentices. Thank you all!

Here’s a little bit about each of the Summer Apprentices who volunteered as docents, in reverse alphabetical order by last name (you’re welcome, Lindsay).

Lindsay Zager

Lindsay Zager

Lindsay came to CHCI from Kenmore, Washington. She is a 21-year-old Senior at Pacific Lutheran University where she is majoring in anthropology with a minor in music. Lindsay plans to return to PLU to finish her senior year. Then she hopes to either attend graduate school (she’s interested in returning for graduate school here at CWU, yay!) or apply for work at a zoo.

“The docent program was a great way for me to share my passion for the urgency of primate conservation. Seeing lives and minds changed — for example, my grandmother, who is in favor of biomedical research, actually read Next of Kin and attended not one, but two Chimposiums — made me really believe that the world can change for the better, and already is in small (and big) ways.”

Cristy Rasmussen

Cristy Rasmussen

Cristy comes to CHCI from Yakima, Washington. She is one of the first two students to arrive at CHCI through the Bridges to Baccalaureate program, a joint venture of Central Washington University and Yakima Valley Community College. She is currently a junior at YVCC and will be transferring in the winter to CWU, to double major in Psychology and Primate Behavior and Ecology. Cristy doesn’t yet have any plans for what she wants to do when she is done with school at CWU, but she “hopes to have it all worked out when the time comes to start paying back those student loans.”

“I plan to continue at CHCI (including volunteering as a docent) because my experience with Washoe’s family and all the humans here have been so positive. I also plan to learn as much as I can from the mentors and the unique family here.”

Jan Mead-Moehring

Jan Mead-Moehring

Jan came to CHCI from Wichita, Kansas. She is a 38-year-old graduate of Wichita State University; she just graduated in July with her degree in biology. Jan plans to take the next year off to prepare applications for graduate schools, and may do some substitute teaching in Wichita’s high schools.

“Docenting was my favorite part of my summer at CWU and CHCI. I enjoyed meeting and working with the longer-term docents, especially Cindy, Sydney, and Kelly, who were wonderful people.”

Hallie Jensen

Hallie Jensen

Hallie came to CHCI from Boulder, Colorado. She is a 23-year-old graduate from the University of Colorado at Boulder where she earned her degree in anthropology. After leaving this summer, Hallie is returning to Boulder for a bit. After that, she hopes to travel to Italy for a few months, and then on to Cambodia or Africa for a year-long internship working with non-human primates. Then it’s off to graduate school.

“The docent program was an amazing experience! It was my first experience public speaking; I thought it would be unbelievably scary, but it turned out to be so fun! It was wonderful to know that I was educating the public about something so important. And, of course, interacting with the chimpanzees is always an incredible experience! Thank you guys so much.”

[Editor’s note: At CHCI docents must be trained and supervised during interactions with the chimpanzees, and all interactions take place through glass. No one at CHCI interacts with the chimpanzees within their enclosures or without proper training and supervision.]

Greta James

Greta James

Greta comes to CHCI from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (so she says words like “pasta” and “process” a little funny, but we love her still). Greta is a fifth year student at the University of Waterloo where she is triple-majoring in psychology, anthropology, and cognitive science. Greta hopes to “spend the rest of her days studying the evolution of the mind, consciousness, and language.”

“You should definitely volunteer as a docent. I was nervous to do so, myself, because I was here for such a short time, but I loved it. It was one of the best experiences I had at CHCI. For once, everyone had to listen to me.”

[Editor’s note: Greta speaks with such volume that most of us cannot imagine a scenario where she was not the center of everyone’s auditory world.]

Shona Duguid

Shona Duguid

Shona came to CHCI from Edinburgh, Scotland. [Editor’s note: I feared we might lose Shona to frustration, as during her first week everyone was pestering her to say things in her beautiful Scottish accent. Thankfully, she’s a patient soul.] Shona is a 20-year-old fourth year student at the University of Edinburgh. She is majoring in psychology. Shona is returning to Edinburgh for her final year of school, after which she hopes to travel to Africa. Shona tells us that watching tapes from Gombe as part of research here at CHCI has made her even more determined to get back to Africa.

“The docent programme was a great part of my time at CHCI. I enjoyed being part of the team educating guests about the CHCI family and the broader picture with regards to chimpanzees. I’ll be spreading the word when I get back to Scotland.”

Mark Darrah

Mark Darrah

Mark came to CHCI from Fountain Valley, California. He is a 22-year-old Senior from the University of California, San Diego where he is majoring in biological anthropology and minoring in history. Mark is keeping his options open after graduation (a nice way of saying that he hasn’t a clue what he wants to do after school) – though he’s considering graduate school, after taking a year off.

“I have had a wonderful experience being a docent this summer. I got to meet a lot of people who are docents but not interns or Apprentices, who I wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise. The interactions and time we got to spend with the chimpanzees when I was docenting were priceless. I’ll never forget it. Great program!”

Ande Cira

Ande Cira

Ande came to CHCI from San Francisco, where she is a 29-year-old student majoring in psychology and architecture. She’s returning to San Francisco after her summer at CHCI “with a renewed interest in primate studies.” Ande hopes to work for conservation and with zoos to improve conditions for captive animals.

“It was great to hear from so many different perspectives. My entire experience at CHCI has opened my eyes and strengthened my convictions. I miss everyone already and hope to return some day in the future!”

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