When most 5th graders are outside skateboarding or running up and down the street on a Sunday afternoon, Evan Richardson, age 10 and known as E.J., is volunteering at the Orange County History Museum.
E.J. first moved to Orange County nearly six years ago. His family enjoyed hiking at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. One day, they thought they were entering the ranger station to ask a question, when they discovered it was the Orange County Natural History Museum. They started visiting the Museum for about a year when one day E.J. asked the volunteer coordinator, Michael Butler, if he too could volunteer at the Museum. Michael answered E.J. that he had to be 18 years old to volunteer and E.J. retorted, “What if my mom comes with me?” Michael said they would try it and see how it goes. That was two years ago; E.J. has been volunteering one to two weekend days per month as a museum docent since June of 2001.
E.J. said he really likes everything about his volunteer experience, such as helping people when they have a question, holding the snakes and when no on is in the center, going around and reading the signs to make sure he is familiar with the information. Once a little girl about the same age as E.J. came up to him asked, “What is “Frass?” He answered very calmly, “it’s animal feces.” The girl said “okay” and went back to the exhibit, just like that. She came up to him two more times and asked him more questions. He not only answered the questions but also walked over to the exhibit with her to explain in more detail what related to her questions. Even adults ask him questions. They never seem to look at him like he is a child. They observe him helping others and just fall in line with their questions. E.J. is very comfortable in the Museum and it shows.
While E.J. is in the Museum talking to visitors, his mom, Linda is usually at the counter when you first enter the Museum. She greets you and takes your donation and if you make a purchase she is the one to help you with that. She loves supporting E.J.’s interest and his love of Science and they do very well as a team. She says E.J. is already thinking of College and wants to be a Naturalist for his career. This young man is also involved with Cub Scouts and plays baseball.
The Orange County Natural History Museum is proud to have E.J. as a volunteer. Since E.J. and his mother have started volunteering in the Museum, another family has volunteered together at the same Museum. And at the Irvine Regional Park Nature Center there are also mother and son and father and son teams.