Volunteer ProFile: 'I Have As Much Fun As The Guests'
In June, the NPR Audience and Community Relations team launched the NPR Ambassador Program, an ongoing volunteer opportunity based at our Washington, D.C. headquarters. Since the program's inception, 25 volunteer ambassadors have contributed more than 375 hours of service at NPR by leading the daily studio tours; working in our new retail outlet, The Commons; and helping during special events. Today's ProFile focuses on one of our ambassadors, Don Wells.
My name... Don Wells
NPR volunteer ambassador since... July 2013
Public radio listener since... the early 2000's
My job is... to lead tours, work in The Commons shop and assist with special events at NPR's Washington, D.C., headquarters.
I knew I wanted to be an NPR Ambassador when... I happened to have a friend visiting from Iowa and we took a public tour, I believe the first week public tours were offered in our new 1111 North Capitol headquarters. Our tour leader, Scott, was so genuinely enthusiastic and that's all it took: the spark was lit.
An NPR Ambassador is... often the only in-depth impression the general public will have of NPR; we are a big part of their NPR experience and memory.
One of my favorite roles as an NPR Ambassador is... helping out in The Commons; spending some time prepping merchandise or assisting customers.
To prepare for a tour... I'll brush up on a few NPR factoids either from my notes or from our informative Reader Rail in the lobby.
Once a tour starts... I have as much fun as the guests! Mixing in conversation with guests along with delivering our standard tour has revealed commonalities with many visitors. Several have been from my home-state or other places I've lived, some have vocalized an interest in NPR careers, some have added context (or even text!) to pieces of public radio history we briefly cover.
The most challenging tour group was... a group of professional tour guides who delivered a critique of me! Talk about a challenging group!
The most interesting NPR Ambassador task I've been given was... crawling around taking space measurements to help us determine how many guests we can host for one of our public events.
As an NPR Ambassador, I have learned... to have a greater appreciation for visitors who want to get smarter while having fun on their vacations. And I have a much deeper appreciation for the professionalism and passion of journalism.
My favorite moment as an NPR Ambassador was... by way of a family in town from Seattle. They came as a family; mom, dad and their three home-schooled kids. They were visiting the DC area as part of their education to cover history, government and science. A trip to NPR was included as part of the educational process for their children which left quite an impression on me.
Anyone considering becoming an NPR Ambassador should... make the commitment to be fully prepared. The time spent will show in a higher level of self-confidence that will, in turn, result in a truly positive experience for you and guests. And, this is a great opportunity, so have fun with it!
Justin Winn contributed to this post. He works in Audience and Community Relations and leads the NPR Ambassadors Program.