Volunteer Spotlight: Jim Peterson

Our volunteers are the face of our great Institution. Every day we see volunteers guiding our guests through the halls and galleries with a smile and sharing their wealth of knowledge. While some of their knowledge comes from volunteer training and continuing education opportunities, our volunteers also bring with them a lifetime of experience and expertise. Whether they are volunteering at the information desks, or providing a docent tour or assisting staff behind the scenes; we can all learn a thing or two from our volunteers!

Peterson in tuxedo with rose in his teeth

Jim shows off his sense of humor (not to mention his sense of style!)

One such volunteer goes above and beyond every time he answers a call in the Smithsonian Call Center or helps a guest discover something new at the Natural History museum: Meet Jim Peterson.

Jim a former U.S. Army captain who currently works for the Department of Veterans Affairs. In his spare time on the weekends, he volunteers in the Smithsonian Call Center and for the National Museum of Natural History.

Jim began volunteering in the Call Center in 2014; a year later he signed up to volunteer for Natural History at a Discovery Cart in the Gems and Minerals Hall. Jim is friendly, approachable and always ready to share his knowledge with our guests – both in the call center and with eager, inquisitive kids at Natural History.

Volunteer Jim Peterson on the phone in the call center

Jim Peterson answering calls in the Call Center, July 2018. (Photo by Kris Hamilton)

When I asked Jim why he chose the Smithsonian to volunteer he said, “I like the Smithsonian, it’s was a good way to volunteer and I really enjoy the volunteer benefits!”. It’s not easy to balance work and volunteering, but Jim always reserves two weekends a month to lend us his expertise and always does so with a smile. He understands the value of service, not just to his country, but to his community as well.

I knew inquisitive minds (like my own) would want to know about the most memorable call he has received at the Information Desk. Jim told me, “I spent 30 minutes one day talking with a lady who called from Iowa. She had never been to the Smithsonian and I was happy to help her plan her trip.”

I think that sums up not only Jim, but all our volunteers: – dedicated, patient and always willing to go the extra mile. Thank you for your service, Jim – to all of us!

Jim with dog

Jim Peterson and friend, Lola.


Posted: 10 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.