Oklahoma's number one blog for natural and cultural history.


2013 Volunteer Appreciation Week

It takes many helping hands from generous volunteers to run the Sam Noble Museum, and this week, April 22-26, is national Volunteer Appreciation Week. During this time, the museum honors volunteers for their invaluable contributions. This year, Mary LeBlanc has been selected to receive the 2013 Tom Siegenthaler Volunteer of the Year Award. Mary has been a volunteer at the museum for 18 years and is the longest-serving active volunteer in the Vertebrate Paleontology Department.

In 1994, Mary saw a newspaper article describing a fossil preparation class at the museum. Having a degree in History and minors in Anthropology and Art History, Mary knew this was an opportunity she did not want to pass up. “I signed up since it met at night, and I could do it while still working full-time at the University.”

Mary enjoyed her time at the Sam Noble so much she would work at the University of Oklahoma in the day and volunteer for the museum in the evening. Since she volunteered before the museum moved into its present facility, Mary actually had a hand in preparing some of the displays in the Hall of Ancient Life. “It’s very exciting to be able to walk around the Hall of Ancient Life and see the various specimens we worked on. When I take relatives to the museum, I can show them the different specimens I helped create.”

After retiring from OU last year, Mary started volunteering full-time. She has been an asset with administrative and computer projects in several offices, tirelessly worked almost every special event, and takes advantage of a wide variety of professional development opportunities.

When asked about why Mary was chosen for this prestigious award, Volunteer Coordinator Terry Allen complimented Mary on her work ethic. “She’s eager to help in any way that will further the mission of the museum, and because of that, she’s a perfect example of a top-notch Sam Noble Museum volunteer.”

The Tom Siegenthaler Volunteer of the Year Award will be presented to Mary on Thursday evening, April 25, during the Museum’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.

Why volunteers matter

It’s National Volunteer Appreciation Week and the prefect time to talk about those people in the museum that make such an impact on staff, visitors and the community: our volunteers.

Every year, the museum dedicates this week to honoring volunteers for the hours they dedicate to natural history, to servicing the community and providing personal knowledge, assistance and experience to our visitors and staff.

In 2011, 161 volunteers dedicated 16,291 hours to the museum through their work as docents, with children in the Discovery Room or with staff behind the scenes.

Museum Staff at reception honoring volunteersvolunteer reception tableVolunteers at reception

We honored our volunteers at a reception this week, highlighting a particular volunteer who represented the volunteer core as a whole. He exemplified what it means to be a museum volunteer, serving for almost 12 years donating more than 3,100 hours to the museum. For that, Michael Laing received the 2012 Tom Siegenthaler Volunteer of the Year Award.

Michael Laing

I am proud to know Michael and more important, thrilled that he represents a part of the museum that touches our visitors and staff alike. If you are interested in becoming a part of our museum, visit our website and browse the opportunities! (Click here)