Castle volunteers were out and about in 2018

One of the perks of being a Smithsonian volunteer is the opportunity to get behind-the-scenes peeks and everything from a Shakespeare folio to a T. rex skull. Plus, there are cookies!

Showing our volunteers how much we value and appreciate their contributions is a priority for most volunteer coordinators – enrichment opportunities are one of the best ways to give back to volunteers!  One of the best parts of my job is planning and running enrichment opportunities for our Castle volunteers and during 2018, I planned 9 different opportunities—and with the launch of a new SI-wide enrichment program, we plan to increase those offerings in 2019!

Volunteers behind Kris

Castle Volunteers gather behind Kris Hamilton for her signature ‘enrichment trip selfie’ while visiting the Museum of the Bible in September, 2018.

So where did Castle volunteers go in 2018?

The Smithsonian volunteers at the Castle spent a lot of time out and about while learning more the Smithsonian, and getting to know more about other great organizations in our D.C. community! Our year began with a sweet treat: the second annual Castle Cookie exchange in the Castle Library. There was some tough competition for best Cookie – but OVS staff and volunteers were up to the challenge of baking and voting on the best cookie. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!

Plates of cookies

Castle volunteer cookie exchange, 2018 (Photo by Abbey Earich)

Our first enrichment trip was a tour of the Paleo bioloigy department as we learned more about the vast collections within this department and role they play highly-anticipated re-opening of Fossil Hall.

Volunteers in front of banner with T Rex skull

Castle volunteers with T. REX at the National History Museum, March 2018 (Photo by Kris Hamilton)

We celebrated spring with a tour of the Department of the Interior’s murals that connected our volunteers with a unique U.S. historical narrative. We took another  journey back in time with a look at the life and times of the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Volunteers listen to docent

Some lucky Castle volunteers at the Folger Shakespeare Library, April 2018. (Photo by Kris Hamilton)

In the summer, we changed gears and looked to the skies with a personal tour of Air and Space’s Phoebe Waterman Haas Observatory with a lucky few able to take a look through the observatory’s telescope!

Group shot in front of planetarium

Some of our Castle volunteers with our guide at the Air and Space Museum, Rebecca Ljungren, June 2018. (Photo by Kris Hamilton)

In July, we stayed a little closer to home as we learned more about the Smithsonian Robot collection with a lecture in the Castle library,  from an Smithsonian staff expert, Carlene Stephens. We closed out a great year with a highlights tour of D.C.’s newest attraction, the Museum of the Bible!

Every year, brings a new calendar of new opportunities and possibilities. As staff members, it is so important to not only organize, but participate in these activities. It allows us time to get to know our volunteers and let them know that we value their contributions while encouraging everyone to discover new information together.

2018 was a great year and it couldn’t have been possible without the support of our great Smithsonian staff members at Natural History’s Paelobiology department, Air & Space’s education department and Carlene Stephens at American History as well as the those coordinators of the Museum of the Bible and the Folger Shakespeare Library. Thank you!

I look forward to another great year of enrichment opportunities and new adventures.I hope to see you there!

2019 Volunteer Enrichment Opportunities

These enrichment opportunities provide volunteers with the ability to increase their knowledge of our amazing institution and build relationships within the local community.

Each opportunity will be offered multiple times and regular announcements will be emailed to volunteers prior to each event with information for RSVP’ing to each event and other general information.

February 2019 National Museum for Women in the Arts:

Wednesday, February 20 at 11AM | Saturday, February 23 at 11AM

May 2019 Lunder Conservation Center tour:

Monday, May 6 at 10:30AM | Friday, May 10 at 10:30AM | Wednesday, May 29 at 10:30AM

August 2019 George Washington University Museum – Textile Museum:

Thursday, September 12 at 12PM | Saturday, September 14 at 11AM | Wednesday, September 25 at 11AM


Due to limited space, opportunities are exclusively for active Smithsonian volunteers, unless otherwise noted.


Posted: 18 December 2018
About the Author:

Kristina Hamilton has been with the Office of Visitor Services since 2016, serving as the Volunteer Recruitment and Retention assistant. Cars, football, and Great Danes take up much of Kris’ free time. Avid car enthusiasts, Kris and her husband spend their summers working on their cars or taking them to the track with their ‘road dogs’ Shadow and Brodie.