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Volunteer Profile: Julie Blyth

Julie Blyth received one of only four Friends of Balboa Park Inspiration Awards on October 21, 2014, an honor given to volunteers who have contributed countless hours of volunteer service to the Park’s organizations.

A nature lover since her childhood when she tromped through the wilds of New Mexico with her father, Julie gravitated to the San Diego Natural History Museum. She has supported our institution as a member for more than 48 years and as a volunteer since 1980.

Over the years, Julie has been involved with the Museum in many ways, from bringing her students here on field trips (Julie taught seventh through ninth grade science students in Marston and Wangenheim Middle School classrooms) to participating in monthly hikes that taught the visually impaired how to connect with nature through the senses of touch and smell. 

When Julie retired from teaching school in 1994, she didn’t retire from educating others. Instead, she expanded her volunteer work to include exhibit interpreting, educating Museum guests as they tour the exhibitions.

As an exhibit interpreter, Julie engages the visitor in conversation—something as simple as asking where they are from or what brings them to the Museum that day. Before they know it, Julie very deftly sneaks in a little learning, and our guests leave with a better understanding of the natural world around them. Julie finds that visitors to theNAT tend to be more curious and open to learning something new, so her job is easy, she says. Her gentle unassuming manner makes her an ideal interpreter. She knows how to read the visitor, when to approach, and when to back away.

For the past 20 years Julie has been volunteering every Thursday and every Resident Free Tuesday, sparking a love of science in visitors of all ages. She says she especially enjoys the younger guests. “They really like to show off what they know,” Julie says, and in most cases they know exactly what they are talking about. Meeting people from all over the world delights her and she is always eager to share what she knows about this area.

Julie also volunteers at the Kroc Center and spends leisure time enjoying Balboa Park. She recently purchased the Balboa Park Explorer and visits other museums each time she comes to volunteer. Julie exemplifies what is best in volunteerism, and we are lucky to have her as part of the Museum family.

Posted by The Nat.

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