Two new volunteers reflect on their first Toddycats guiding experience

Every Toddycats event is a great opportunity to reach out to the public , our recent exhibition at Khoo Teck Puat hospital had us talking to almost 1,000 people about local biodiversity. We are always recruiting any individual who has the passion for nature and our environment.

Take a look at what two of our new volunteers thought – Lim Kim Yong and Sarah Seo.

Lim Kim Yong is in charge of the Young Educators in Science Programme at the Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore. He decided to try his hand at biodiversity education and we were very glad to have him with us. He also recruited a bunch of Young Educators which was a great boost to the team numbers that day!

Kim Yong introducing a child to Singapore's natural heritage

“It is one thing to hear of a volunteer group and quite another to volunteer for the group itself. No matter that I have done similar things in the past – it helps to remember that every group is quite unique in its own way, whether by force of history, people dynamics or the content of the volunteer efforts.”

“As I have had acquaintances in Toddycats in the past, the name always bears a vague familiar ring  but I never quite get to really know what they do, until last Saturday. So, it is really all quite interesting for a ‘physics person’ to try to get the tucked away biological facts straightened out again. There is some consolation that there are a few other physics majors doing the same, all struggling to reconfigure our brain circuitry to make sense of what ‘life’ really means.:)”

“The day itself is, for the most part, pleasant. People were generally relaxed on an almost festive Saturday morning and receptive to our approaches. And having some uncommon exhibits certainly helped to draw in the crowds. I first watched as the more senior Toddycats enthralled the young and old alike with their skills and knowledge. Having picked up some tips from them, I attempted to do the same. The first few attempts were naturally shaky but having some confidence and a thick skin helped. As usual, the kids were great, mostly curious and eager but a few couldn’t get over the fear of touching the animal skulls.”

“We hope they will in the future. Also, it was great to hear from the aunties and the grandfathers, many of whom gladly share their childhood stories or the dialect translations of the ‘horseshoe crabs’ and ‘mudskippers’. The crowds came continuously and if not for the fact that we have some extra hands, we would have tire pretty quickly. Towards the end, the rains came and the extra hands again came in handy for moving everything into the shelter. It felt great to be able to be a nature guide again. And they said they are going to bring the pangolin the next round, so I think I am going again.”

Ng Qiqi (left) & Sarah Seo (right) showing kids our iconic dugong specimen and vertebrate skulls

Sarah Seo is a year 1 NUS student, majoring in Environmental Studies.  She is also a new volunteer with the Raffles Museum Toddycats,  she reflects:

“Volunteering with the Toddycats Engage exhibition team was a truly enlightening experience for me. While I have had many experiences interacting with the public through other volunteer opportunities, it was my first time educating the masses about Singapore’s rich biodiversity.”

“Through the public showcase at Khoo Teck Puat hospital, I was both an educator and learner simultaneously. One moment, I was grasping the facts and linguistic terms of the specimens on display, and in the next, I had to frantically craft all the facts into an interesting dialogue to engage the public with.”

“Due to the lack of prior experience and some knowledge in this field, thinking and speaking on my toes proved to be quite a challenge, especially when many eyes (and camera lens) were watching me.”

“Undoubtedly, the responses from the public were what made the whole event memorable. The general response garnered from interacting with the people was pure awe and surprise. The majority were amazed by the array of wet specimens and animal skulls that were showcased. ”

“Some comments though, were amusing, while others were cynical. One amusing question I received was, “Does this (baby dugong) have any medicinal value or can it be used as a tonic?” Many others commented about how cruel it was to keep the specimens in such tight glass jars. Not to worry, I provided a neutral yet insightful answer to the public each time.”

“In retrospect, the event at Khoo Teck Puat hospital was certainly an eye-opener and has made me more inclined to participate in future volunteering opportunities with Toddycats.”

Don’t worry, if you lack experience in guiding or in natural history! Come learn about our wonderful natural heritage and share this with others! So join us and be a Raffles Museum Toddycats volunteer today!

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