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Below The Surface

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

ECHO VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT

Meet Animal Care Volunteer Erica Ribeiro.  

ECHO Volunteer Erica Ribeiro transports one of ECHO's turtles during the morning feed time.

Erica joined ECHO's Animal Care Department in the fall of 2011. She has a lifelong natural connection to wildlife and wanted to be a part of ECHO and the larger mission of educating people about the importance of proper stewardship of Lake Champlain and the natural environment around it. Erica explains:

"Naturally, ECHO appealed to me because of their connection to the animals
and our community. I had heard wonderful things about the staff prior to applying,
so I thought why not give it a shot".  

While Erica thought volunteering at ECHO might be fun, she was hooked after a few hours and has been a consistent volunteer for the last two and half years.  Erica's experience and knowledge of ECHO's animal collection has grown immensely since she started, but her care and commitment towards the animals was unwavering from the start which makes her a valued volunteer.

"Having the opportunity to handle animals that are in my backyard and knowing
that I am making a difference for them is the most rewarding part of job." 

Originally from Rhode Island, Erica moved to Vermont at age eighteen. She has a lifelong passion for and interest in animals and has, since childhood, adopted an array of friends from rodents of all kinds, fish, iguanas, turtles, scorpions, to the most current members, hedgehogs. Owning hedgehogs sparked an interest in breeding them so Erica is currently working on attaining a breeder's license for hedgehogs in the state of Vermont. In addition, Erica is attending massage school and intends to pursue a career in this field following graduation in June 2014. Erica's five year old son, Tripp Danger, is also an ECHO fan, and shares his mom's passion for animals.

Erika, ECHO thanks you as well as your fellow Animal Care volunteers, for continuing to care for our animals and help them be healthy ambassadors that teach the importance of stewardship of the Lake Champlain watershed and all the world's watersheds. 

ECHO greatly appreciates your service!

Interested in joining ECHO's Volunteer Family? To learn more about ECHO's volunteer opportunities, please go to: http://www.echovermont.org/getinvolved/volunteer-intern.html

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Partnering and Crowd Sourcing Create 3D Guided Tour

ECHO is a learning organization which means we are always looking for innovative ways to present information to our guests. Most recently we've been fine-tuning and prototyping a 3D project* that will give guests a highly interactive way to engage in learning about the Lake Champlain Basin.

  Nina Ridhibhinyo leads a 3D tour of the Lake Champlain Basin. 
In April, we welcomed over 300 guests to take part in a preview of the new 3D guided tour of parts of the Lake Champlain Basin and it was a blast! Nina Ridhibhinyo, ECHO’s group programs manager, guided these eager participants through space and time as part of a 25 minute 3D presentation on the history of dam development and flooding on the Winooski River. They explored Vermont's wetlands and flood zones, delved into the historic floods of 1927 and 2011, and visited mills as well as hydroelectric and flood control dams throughout Vermont. After the presentation, visitors shared their thoughts about the prototype program by either completing a survey or by chatting with one of our project team members.

This 3D visualization tool provides a powerful way for our visitors to explore the geography of the Lake Champlain Basin as part of an immersive 3D experience. By layering aerial imagery and geographic data on top of a digital model, ECHO guests can soar over the mountains, above the streams, and through the valleys of the Basin.

We still have work to do as we incorporate visitor feedback into the program and put finishing touches on this massive project. This project and process reminds us of the importance of partnerships and creative collaborations that allow our relatively small lake aquarium and science center to bring this type of such state-of-the-art technology to our region. Just a few years ago ECHO could not have imagined using 3D technology to develop awareness and stewardship of freshwater ecosystems. With the support of the LakeViz3D project, a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, we now plan to roll out new 3D public and school programs this fall and winter.

*3D content created by the LakeViz3D project-UC Davis KeckCAVES, UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, Lawrence Hall of Science, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, and Audience Viewpoints and supported in part by the National Science Foundation under NSF Award No. DRL-1114663.  Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation.


Photo Credit:  © Audience Viewpoints Consulting