Monterey Bay Aquarium student volunteers share their experience
Monterey Bay Aquarium student volunteers share their experience

Three Santa Catalina School students who volunteer as Monterey Bay Aquarium Teen Conservation Leaders made a pitch for the program during a recent lunch presentation.

Emalia Partlow '19, who has racked up more than 400 volunteer hours since she became a Teen Conservation Leader at age 13, gave an overview of the program and the various ways students get to interact with aquarium visitors and animals. She said the program has boosted her self-confidence, especially when it comes to public speaking, as volunteers' main role is to talk to guests about the exhibits.

Emalia and fellow volunteers Amira Chou '19 and Allison Lorentz '20 then offered advice to students interested in applying for the program. (Emma Kate Murphree '21 is also a Teen Conservation Leader.) Here's what they had to say:

  • The program is highly competitive, so take your time with the application. This year's application is due January 27.
  • Don't be intimidated by the interview process. For one, you're paired up with another student, so you're not going it alone. For another, "the interviewer is human," Amira said. They're friendly, not scary.
  • Be honest and be yourself. Allison wrote on her application that she wasn't a fan of public speaking, for example. You don't need to have all of the skills going in, just a passion for marine biology and ocean conservation. Like Emalia, Allison developed her public speaking skills through the program.

The program has been a big draw for Catalina students, as 20 girls have participated over the years.

For more information about being a Teen Conservation Leader, visit

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