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Virginia Beach Aquarium volunteer 'seas' the value of supporting marine life

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Posted at 6:22 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 18:22:00-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Horseshoe crabs, striped bass, and speckled trout - all creatures of the Chesapeake Bay. And you can see them and in some cases touch them at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Centerin Virginia Beach.

And one of the people who can tell you all about these fantastic fish, including the super cool stingrays, is a ray of sunshine herself - volunteer Doreen Cote.

“I’m a gallery docent on the floor here, so for example, I lead these major exhibits, telling people what to do. I also go out on the boats for dolphin and whale season," she explained of her position.

Doreen has been a volunteer with the aquarium for six years, and the staff here know they can always depend on her.

"It doesn’t matter how large or small the task is - if we need anything, she’s right there, Johnny-on-the-spot."

“[On] sensory-friendly mornings when we’re here super early making a comfortable quiet experience for the guests, she’s the first in line to volunteer. She’s always here helping and willing to adapt with whatever we need.”

Doreen used to lead a Girl Scout troop when her kids were young, and their visits to the aquarium back then inspired her to volunteer.

“I just love to do this. It's rewarding to see the people you have an impact on," she said. “Especially the little kids - I get to see how excited they when they see something new, or if they’re afraid to touch something and you say, 'Hey, I’ll do that with you.'"

Staff at the aquarium say Doreen is wonderful with people and has a way of pulling the team together, acknowledging that she understands the facility's mission and is driven by her desire to inspire others.

Related: People Taking Action: Local couple surprised with award for their 'LOVE' shrub!

They led us to where Doreen was working, and we were able to surprise her with a People Taking Action award and a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner, Southern Bank.

“Oh my gosh, this is a surprise," she said.

To nominate someone for a People Taking Action Award, click here.