- Tuesday June 23 2015
- Volunteer Spotlight
A skittish baby mouse darts from corner to corner in its enclosure in the Animal Room at the Science Center of Iowa. Jenni Files knows the routine: soothing words, gentle movements. Eventually, she guides the little guy into his temporary home, so she can clean the cage.
Every Friday morning from 7:00-8:30 am, Files volunteers in the Animal Room, meticulously cleaning and restocking 11 mice enclosures. In just six months, she has formed a connection with SCI’s mischief (that’s the word for a group of mice).
“They’re really nice, and it’s fun being able to see some of them grow up,” Files said. “It’s fun to be able to see them since they were super tiny.”
Proud pet mother to a rabbit, two dogs and a cat, Files has always enjoyed working with animals. She shared her interest with SCI Volunteer Manager Chris Juhl, who connected her with Mark Rouw, SCI’s longtime animal specialist.
After four weeks of training, Files had established her own routine in a volunteer role that fits her passion for the community and furry friends.
“I think a lot of people have animals at home, and they are interested in animals, but I think it’s that one step of reaching out,” Files said. “Chris Juhl is so nice. Once you talk to him, he is very interested in matching your interests with what you can do as a volunteer at SCI.”
Files’ passion for animal care has eased the workload for Rouw, too. With Files there to feed and monitor the mice every Friday, Rouw’s list of weekend preparations is more manageable.
“With Jenni replacing the old mouse bedding, it really allowed me to take care of all of the other animal needs,” he said. “Another benefit of her help was it gave me a nice break from doing one of the less glamorous but very important animal jobs.”
Files isn’t too concerned about the glamour factor either. She’s busy enjoying each new milestone in the Animal Room and at SCI.
For Files, watching the mice grow from shut-eyed newborns to jumpy youngsters is a lot like watching the Science Center of Iowa evolve over the years.
“I just love the Science Center of Iowa, and I’m really happy I’ve been able to do this,” Files said. “Coming here since I was 5 or 6 and then seeing it completely transform from the old location on Grand to this location and just being a part of it and seeing it every week, I really, really like it, and I’m very blessed to be a part of it.”