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  • Volunteering Makes You Live Longer

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    Tags: volunteers, volunteer expo, happiness

    Created: 11/21/2013      Updated: 8/9/2016

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    THIS JUST IN: Volunteers live longer.

    I swear it’s true. They’re also happier. As manager of volunteers here at the Nature Museum, I’ve been saying this for years – but now there’s empirical evidence to back me up.

    Dr. Suzanne Richards and her team at the University of Exeter Medical School recently published results of a systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of people who volunteer. The researchers looked at 40 studies on this topic and found that volunteering is consistently associated with increased life satisfaction and wellbeing and decreased rates of depression and mortality. (Source: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/13/773#

    In a nutshell: People who volunteer are happier and healthier than people who don’t. 

    Anyone who’s ever taken a course in research methodology knows that we can’t infer causation from correlation. Just because two factors are associated with one another doesn’t mean one factor caused the other. So we can’t say for sure whether volunteering actually causes people to live a longer, happier life or whether there are other variables at work.

    But the fact remains that people who give their time and energy to help others end up better off themselves. 

    Why might this be so? I think there are a couple of reasons. First of all, volunteering gets you out of the house. It makes you more active and gets all those great energy juices flowing. Second, volunteering creates social connections. It expands and deepens your circle of friends, which sets off numerous chemical reactions in your brain that make you feel happy. 

    If all this happiness and longevity sounds appealing to you and you’re into nature and science, join our volunteer team here at the museum. Apply here to get started: http://naturemuseum.org/get-involved/volunteer

    Not sure if this is the place for you? Stop by in February for the chance to speak with over 50 different nonprofit organizations about their volunteer opportunities. The Nature Museum is hosting the second annual Chicago Volunteer Expo on Sunday, February 16, 10 am to 4 pm. I hope to see you there!

    Jill Doub
    Manager of Volunteers and Interns

    PS: If you’re a nonprofit organization looking to recruit volunteers at the 2014 Chicago Volunteer Expo, the application is now live! 

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  • Holiday Programs

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    Tags: holidays, thanksgiving, animals, family fun

    Created: 11/21/2013      Updated: 8/9/2016

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    Sometimes it can be difficult to entertain the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and the weird neighbor kid that you wish would just stay with their own family and your in-laws all at once during the holidays. Where can all of you go so that the children can have fun, burn off some energy and adults can also be entertained and avoid the post Thanksgiving shopping madness that overtakes downtown Chicago? Is it worth risking a trip to the mall and possibly having a breakdown or losing a child or grandparent in the midst of stampeding crowds of crazed shoppers?

    Probably not. What is worth your time is a trip to the Nature Museum! On Friday, November 29 the Public Programs department is pulling out all the stops for your sanity and your family. Join us for Trash to Table, our annual chef demo that shows you creative ways to turn those leftovers into delicious meals no one can resist.

    Cooking class

    Then head on over to our Flying Fox animal show- a great program for your children to see bats and interact with all kinds of creatures!

    Fruit Bat

    Fruit Bat

    Chinchilla

    Chinchilla

    Armadillo

    Armadillo

    You want more? Come back Saturday, November 30th for our 4th annual Green Metropolis Holiday Fair.  Stroll our exhibits and shop from many local vendors. This annual favorite is a great way for every member in your family to find an original holiday gift.

    We love the holiday season here at the Nature Museum. Make sure to check out our program calendar and come back during our winter solstice celebration on December 21 and our annual Trash to Treasure holiday favorite December 26-28!

    Glenda Gonzalez
    Public Programs Coordinator

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