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Teen Encourages Others To Help at Aquarium

Gabby Lanzetta commutes at least 30 minutes to her part-time job – and she doesn't even get paid. The 16-year-old Ridgefield High School student has been volunteering for about a year at the Maritime Aquarium , where she answers questions from visitors.

"I'm really into marine animals," she said. "I thought it was a really good program and something fun to do." Anyone interested in following in Gabby's footsteps needs to go to the aquarium Tuesday night: Interviews for potential volunteers will be held at 7 p.m. A training session will follow this spring.

"Helping visitors, especially children, learn about Long Island Sound is personally rewarding and crucial in building public awareness about issues affecting our local environment," Lisa Slinsky, assistant director of volunteers and community service said in a statement. "The volunteer program is vital to the mission of the Maritime Aquarium and its educational goals. Plus, it's a fun way to join up with a group of people who have similar interests."

Gabby said she works at different stations in her four-hour shifts. She especially likes the touch tank.

Knowledge of marine animals and fish isn't necessary to be an aquarium volunteer. Gabby said she learned what she needed to know in a six-week training course. This spring's course will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, March 3 through April 14.

You must be at least 15 to sign up. Weekday volunteers are asked to commit to at least four hours per week. If you are available to volunteer only on weekends, the minimum commitment is eight hours per month.

Most volunteers work as gallery guides, helping visitors learn more about life in the Sound, including crabs, sea stars, seals and sharks. There is also need for behind-the-scenes office and special-event assistance, and more.

A $40 fee covers the costs of training materials and uniforms. After six months of service, volunteers receive a free individual aquarium membership, entitling them to discounts in the gift shop and on many programs. For more information, call the aquarium at 203-852-0700, Ext. 2225.

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