Volunteers are crucial to any nonprofit, which underscores the importance staff at the American Independence Museum is placing on two upcoming volunteer information session on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 5 and 6.

“Volunteers are often the first point of contact the public has with the museum,” said Victoria Su, public programs & engagement manager. “We are a very small staff of only 5 employees, and we simply could not do all we do without the help of many dedicated volunteers.”

Currently the biggest need at the museum is gift shop attendants, educators and guides.

“These are opportunities where volunteers can work closely with a very accessible and professional staff who are very open to their ideas, talents, knowledge and skills,” added Su. “Volunteers also have the opportunity to share the museum’s unique history and collection with students, guests and visitors from all over the country.”

For Manchester resident Christy Slavik Hamilton, who is a volunteer teacher educator, the American Independence Museum is “the perfect setting to help students discover that history is real and connects to today.”

“Students have access to authentic objects and documents,” she said. “The experiences we can provide are intimate and interactive, and the programs help students[…]dig deep to understand context and points of view.”

Noting she works with school groups, Hamilton said she has also helped out with special events, such as the American Independence Festival in July and Holiday Colonial Tea in December.

While Hamilton’s background is in education–she recently retired as a fifth-grade Language Arts and American History teacher in Natick, MA–museum Executive Director Emma Bray stresses that prior experience is not a requirement for volunteers.

“There are so many ways community members can become involved at the museum,” she said. “There is no one type of volunteer.”

Su agreed and said volunteers at the museum enjoy a lot of perks, some of which include year-end celebrations, free memberships, gift shop discounts, possible recognition in social media and more.

“Volunteering at the museum is a lot of fun and a rich and rewarding experience for community members and staff alike,” she said.

To learn more about volunteering, the museum will host Volunteer Information Sessions on Tuesday, March 5 from 10 to 11:30 am and on Wednesday, March 6 from 6 to 7:30 pm. Both events will be held in the museum’s Folsom Tavern at 164 Water Street in Exeter.

The American Independence Museum features more than 3,000 items in its collection, including one of only 26 surviving copies of the Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence.

The museum is a member of the 17-member NH Heritage Museum Trail, which connects the public with culturally rich heritage institutions in New Hampshire.

For more information about the NH Heritage Museum Trail, visit nhmuseumtrail.org.