In answer to a question we received, there are not any opportunities to volunteer at this time. However, as soon as the Discovery is up and running, hopefully by January of 2010, there will be plenty of chances to get involved. We hope to build a great volunteer program similar to the CMSEC system that has over a hundred student volunteers from all over Utah County. It is our plan to provide the same kind of rich experience for students in the Cache Valley area.
Some of the different opportunities that will be available to student volunteers will be acting as characters on the missions and helping with controlling the simulator. There are many different aliens and other humans that are encountered aboard the Discovery and it is a much greater experience when you get to meet them in person. Volunteers will take on roles such as an engineer from a lower level checking in with the bridge about a repair. This helps to create the illusion that there are hundreds of other people on the imaginary decks below the bridge. I remember doing exactly that one time as a volunteer and a crew member asked me where I was from. I started going off about how I missed my home on Europa (one of Jupiter's moons) and started to tell them how I first was interested in engineering when I took apart my first flux capacitor. Luckily I had spent some time writing a short story about my character before I went out.
Over the years of helping as a volunteer I learned a lot. One of the most important things I learned has transferred on to help me with school and work. I learned about the importance of effort. I wasn't paid as a volunteer and it took a lot of time and effort to perform the different assignments I had. Yet, I kept going weekend after weekend and using my own money I had earned from chores to buy costume pieces and other items to use at the space center. What I learned was that the more I put into it, the more I got out of it. If I worked really hard to make the missions more exciting for the kids attending, I had more fun.
There are a few requirements that should be known before you decide to be a volunteer. The space center is an extracurricular activity that you can participate in only after school is accomplished. Volunteers must maintain grades at a B level. This means that if you have a C in one of your classes for a term you will not get to participate as a volunteer until you bring that up. Grades are turned in every term to make sure that time which needs to be spent studying and working on homework isn't being taken up by volunteering. The other main requirement to be a volunteer is to be a hard worker. The space center is fun, but you must be willing to work and understand that you aren't coming to play around. You are there to make the experience of the students attending a better one. This means that you might not be doing something 100% of the time and you may have to spend some time just observing to learn how everything is run. It isn't always the easiest thing to be a volunteer, but it is definitely worth it for those who are interested.