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BioVan Rangers

BioVan Rangers support the BioVan program by helping teach about the Rio Grande at elementary schools and special events in the Albuquerque area.

Purpose

The BioVan is a free, two-part outreach program to Albuquerque area elementary schools. At the schools, the BioVan introduces students to the Rio Grande's biological diversity, creates awareness of the interdependence of life and encourages environmental conservation. The BioVan’s exhibits include live animals and plants, biological artifacts (“BioFacts”), interactive games and art activities.

The follow-up includes a hands-on field trip to the Rio Grande Bosque. This “Rio Ranger Field Hike” acquaints students with local habitat, ecosystem and real-time conservation through field and laboratory activities and interactive arts.

BioVan Rangers are BioPark Docents from the Aquarium, Botanic Garden, or Zoo who teach during school visits and on hikes through the Bosque. Rangers bring a personal, friendly touch to thousands of students each year and are an integral part of the BioVan program.

Requirements

  • Must be an active ABQ BioPark Docent at the Aquarium, Zoo, or Botanic Garden.
  • Anyone who is 18 years or older and meets the requirement above can apply.
  • Willing to work with children and adults at schools and science fairs.
  • Flexible, patient, cooperative, and committed to teaching conservation in a variety of settings.
  • The required knowledge is taught at workshops hosted by the BioVan staff and learned on the job. The BioVan staff is always on-site during events to answer questions.
  • As a safety precaution, all applicants are required to submit to a City of Albuquerque background check before they can begin volunteering.

Duties

  • Rangers choose which events to work. After signing up to teach at a local school or lead a field hike, the staff contacts Rangers to arrange a meeting place and time. A Ranger may volunteer for a full or half day. Schools are in Albuquerque or Rio Rancho, and field hikes take place in the Bosque adjacent to Tingley Beach.
  • While at an event, Rangers teach about the journey of the Rio Grande from the San Juan Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. Lessons directly relate to the BioVan’s five exhibits, which depict habitats along the river. Rangers assist staff in monitoring the health and well-being of BioVan animals, directing interactive games, and maintaining the exhibits. School visits are usually scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • While leading field hikes through the Bosque, Rangers help children identify plants and signs of animals (tracks, scat, etc.), assist with field and lab activities, and teach conservation. Rangers must maintain friendly communication with students, teachers, and chaperones while giving directions and keeping the group safely together. Hikes are generally scheduled on Fridays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Minimum Time

  • Rangers create their own schedules. They may work any time the BioVan program is in operation—typically Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
  • A minimum of 60 hours a year is required to receive recognition as an active BioPark Education Volunteer. At least 30 hours of these must be spent directly working Docent educator, which can include the BioVan; the remaining 30 hours may also be spent directly working as BioVan Ranger, working as a Docent or doing support work such as attending monthly meetings, continuing education lectures, etc.
  • Volunteers are responsible for tracking their own hours using Volgistics, our volunteer database system.

Training

  • Applicants wishing to join the BioVan Rangers are required to attend a training workshop.
  • New Rangers may also train on-the-job while shadowing seasoned volunteers. All new Rangers will receive the BioVan Ranger Guidebook which contains information necessary to successfully teach the conservation-themed lessons of the BioVan program.
  • New Rangers will learn about ecosystems surrounding the Rio Grande, the biology of specific plants and animals, and up-to-date conservation issues affecting our endangered river and the occupants of its habitats.
  • Training dates typically occur in the fall for existing BioPark docents, and again the following February for existing docents and new docent graduates.

Uniform

  • BioVan Rangers wear a khaki uniform vest, which is borrowed from the BioVan staff. A nametag will also be provided.
  • Volunteers are responsible for acquiring solid-colored clothing (blouse/shirt and pants/skirt/shorts) in uniform colors to wear with the vest. Uniform colors are black, brown, tan or white — jeans are unacceptable.
  • Comfortable shoes and weather appropriate gear are a must for Rio Ranger Field Hikes. Outerwear, like coats, hats, gloves, and scarves do not have to be in uniform colors.

Benefits

  • BioPark Education Volunteers have the opportunity to do meaningful and gratifying education work with thousands of visitors to the BioPark.
  • Upon completion of the training and a commitment to give the minimum number of hours, BioPark Education Volunteers receive an identification badge, which allows free regular admission to all BioPark facilities (Zoo, Aquarium, and Botanic Garden).
  • Volunteers can receive a discount at food concessions and gift stores with their valid Education Volunteer ID during regular operating hours. After the end of each calendar year, volunteers are awarded recognition items for their service.
  • Volunteers are offered discounts to all fee-based BioPark Education programs and are invited to special volunteer-only events.

Support

  • Resources exist throughout the BioPark to help volunteers fulfill their duties. Education staff can provide assistance, and small Education Libraries are available.
  • Monthly education meetings are generally held on the first Thursday and first Saturday of each month, and all volunteers are encouraged to attend. The Zoo meetings are at 9:00am in the Zoo Ed Barn. The Aquarium/Botanic Garden meetings are at 11:00am in the AQ/BG Education Building. Current BioPark happenings and facility-specific information are discussed. BioVan and Tingley Beach topics are covered at both meetings.
  • Volunteers are also invited to attend monthly Brown Bag Seminars following the meetings. Mid-month, a written update is mailed to all BioPark volunteers which contains upcoming BioVan program events.
  • Information on current happenings is also available in the Volunteer Communication Room at the AQ/BG Education Building or on the bulletin board in the Education Barn.

Costs

BioPark Education Volunteers are responsible for purchasing their name tag and acquiring their own uniform clothing.

How To Apply

All potential volunteers must submit an application online at www.abqbiopark.com. Applications will be reviewed by Education staff. If chosen to attend an orientation you will receive an invitation two to three weeks in advance of the event.

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