What is now the SLEWTHS volunteer job training program first began at the University of California's Long Marine Laboratory in Santa Cruz in 1989. Since that time, it has continually developed (and hopefully improved) to provide the best possible marriage of a solid liberal education in marine mammalogy for the volunteers, balanced with the ever challenging needs of caring for the animals and conducting marine science and education. In 1998 the program permanently relocated to Moss Landing Marine Labs, where we built a custom facility designed to provide excellent ocean access.
Hundreds of volunteers, mostly students, have come through the program representing three colleges and two universities in the Monterey Bay area. The project generally maintains a staff of 12- 20 volunteers who intern to develop a perspective on marine mammals and animal training generally. The experience is always different for each person, and some of the opportunities can be customized to suit the particular interests of the person. People working with the project most frequently develop careers in the related fields of research (graduate school), veterinary medicine, education, animal public display, animal training, and stranding rehabilitation. Most of what is gained from the experience depends on the input of the individual. Volunteers have learned to do everything from formal professional presentations to building marine mammal facilities.