By Erin Murphy/ ECHO (Photo by Erin Murphy/ECHO)   She’s a former attorney, a trained art historian, a musician, and now she spends hal...

Faces of ECHO: Ruth Kassel

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By Erin Murphy/ ECHO
(Photo by Erin Murphy/ECHO)
 She’s a former attorney, a trained art historian, a musician, and now she spends half of her Wednesdays talking to ECHO guests about forests, bears, and moose. Ruth Kassel has been a volunteer at ECHO for twelve years, making her a part of the first class of volunteers. Kassel found the aquarium through her son, who was on the fundraising committee at ECHO. She and her husband had recently retired to Burlington to be near family, and their son suggested the then new volunteer program to fill their time. The pair have been here ever since, though they don’t come in on the same days; her husband works Mondays and Kassel takes Wednesday mornings.
“We have a cabin in Nebraska Valley, so I can really talk about what it’s like living in the woods in Vermont, because we do it!” she said.   The other half of her Wednesdays are spent at the sea life tank, where she teaches guests about creatures and lets them put their hands in the water. It’s clear that Kassel loves what she’s doing: when kids come up to the tank, she instantly smiles and takes out a tiny pink flashlight to show them sea stars, anemone and hermit crabs. She spouts off facts about new animals and plants and teaches kids the best way to handle sea life.
Ruth Kassel plays and learns at the sea life tank. Photo by Erin Murphy/ECHO
“Ruth has an enthusiasm for learning, and comes each day with a science fact,” said Linda Bowden, guest service manager. “She comes to meetings with things she’s read to share, which helps spur conversation about stewardship and the basin.” When she’s not at ECHO, Kassel keeps busy with a walking club, a book group, swimming at the YMCA, and singing in two choirs. Though volunteering at the science center is just one of many activities Kassel is involved with, it’s one of her favorites: “I love coming here, it’s like coming to summer camp.”


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