Like many Chicago residents, Shedd has been a favorite destination of mine since I was a child. I remember the excitement and anticipation of knowing a field trip or family outing would bring me through the doors of the aquarium. Once inside, it was hard to not be captivated by the aquatic life found at Shedd. Each day when I arrive at work here, I still feel the same sense of wonder that I did as a child.
As a kid, I was impressed by the aquarium without even knowing what it was beyond being a great place to visit and how it provided an opportunity to see fascinating animals. Now, as an adult, my affinity for the World’s Aquarium has continued to grow exponentially. Having discovered the global conservation efforts and the many educational initiatives that are sponsored by Shedd, I can appreciate the aquarium and its work on a much deeper level. To work here, and to be a part of such an important mission, is a dream come true for both the adult and child in me.
As a member, you too are part of that mission. None of the amazing work Shedd accomplishes would be possible without your crucial support. I look around every day and see how Shedd Members make a difference. Not the least of which is in the eyes of children, many of whom I envision going on to become marine mammal trainers, aquarists, or perhaps even conservation experts themselves. As the Coordinator of the Membership program here at Shedd, I thank you for your generosity and assistance in helping to inspire a new generation of children through your membership.
When I was growing up in the western suburbs of Chicago, my neighbors and friends all owned dogs, but my pets were of the aquatic nature. I can still smell the fish food being poured into the aquarium by my mom, witnessing the daily frenzy. I remember how careful we had to be when it came time to clean the aquarium. It is during these cherished moments with my mother that I began to have compassion for aquatic life.
When people visit Chicago, they taste the great food, they take pictures of Michael Jordan’s statue, and they explore the prominent landmarks that define this city. Shedd Aquarium has solidified its prominence by sparking compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world. The greatest part of my workday is being able to come down to the galleries and see toddler hands pressed firmly against the glass as our youngest visitors stare intently into the habitats. There is no greater feeling than knowing that you are working for an organization that educates and inspires everyone who walks through our doors.
As a member of Shedd, your contribution helps to continuously propel the mission and vision of the aquarium. Your support enables us to continue to care for the animals that we all love. My job does not involve day-to-day interaction with the animals, nor do I train or feed them, but I feel so connected to them. My affinity for aquatic life deepened the day I walked through these doors as a membership coordinator. I challenge anyone to visit and not fall in love with my 32,000 aquatic coworkers! With your compassionate support, you have become the catalyst that ensures aquatic life is sustained by the people who love, understand and protect it.
I’m a proud Latino Chicago native, but even growing up in the city, I didn’t have many opportunities to visit Shedd. My few experiences at the aquarium, however, were transformative. I was astounded by the building’s architecture inside and out. One of my fondest memories from my first visit, on a fourth-grade field trip, was looking up in the main foyer and seeing the beautiful ceiling with carvings of various aquatic animals and the grand clock with its numbers made up of fishes and other aquatic life. The Illinois Discount Day program made a family visit possible, and I again marveled at the beauty of walking inside and immediately seeing the Caribbean Reef. Now I get to come to work every day and relive some of my greatest childhood memories.
As a member of the Shedd family, your contribution helps us maintain our top-notch animal care and our vital conservation efforts locally and around the world. Nothing makes me more proud to work here than watching a kid learn something. As a member, you make this possible. With your contribution, we can continue to inspire the next marine biologist. I look forward to meeting and sharing my experiences at Shedd with you, and together we can achieve Shedd’s common mission.
Arturo Balderas Jr.