SYCAMORE – Molly Holman Trickey’s volunteers are an important part of her morning routine.
“It’s my first step each day – I check who is going to be here and see what needs to be done,” Trickey said.
As the director of the Midwest Museum of Natural History in Sycamore, Trickey oversees the schedules and duties of about 26 regular volunteers who do much of the behind-the-scenes work to keep the museum running. Holman estimates that volunteers contribute about 150 hours of labor to the museum each month.
Volunteers help the staff feed and water the live animals at the museum, maintain the displays of artifacts and stuffed animals, assist in the gift shop and assist with group events and tours.
Cindy Chang, a graduate student in art history and museum studies at Northern Illinois University, has volunteered to catalog the thousands of artifacts from the museum’s archives into a database.
“Basically I’m here because of my love of museums and the learning that happens here,” Chang said. Previously, many of the artifacts were uncataloged or were vaguely referenced in paper files. Artifacts include stuffed animals, bones and rock and mineral specimens.
“It’s kind of good because now we can keep track of everything we have and figure out how to best utilize it,” Chang said. “It will be cool because it will allow us to put up exhibits that we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”
Barry Taylor, 11, of DeKalb decided to volunteer at the museum last year. He and his father, also named Barry, help care for some of the live amphibians and reptiles at the museum every Wednesday.
“We feed the animals and water them and sometimes clean up after them,” the younger Barry said.
J.C. Gillette of Elburn, a student at the University of Iowa, is spending his summer interning at the museum. Last Wednesday, he spent the morning helping preschoolers study the live and stuffed animals and making crafts in the museum’s Safari Sprouts program.
“I’m here for the summer, interning and having a blast,” Gillette said.