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June 21, 2018
Contact: Shelley Dawicki

Meet Ken Reed: Woods Hole Science Aquarium Volunteer

It’s Monday, and the Woods Hole Science Aquarium is closed to the public. But inside, you’ll usually find Ken Reed busy at work: hosing down the ditches, floors and tanks in the Aquarium’s behind-the-scenes area on the second level, replacing tank pre-filters, and doing odd maintenance jobs.

He spends about three hours each week getting the area ready for the week's public hours, which start on Tuesday mornings. After hundreds to thousands of people have toured the facility each week, Reed helps remove fingerprints from the tank glasses and debris off the floors.

“I would pay them to let me work here,” he says with a smile. “I love it.  I have a routine and just go about my duties. The staff and the other volunteers are friendly and really nice. I’ve brought my children and grandchildren here through the years, and it is nice to help keep it looking good in some small way.” 

Reed has been volunteering since the summer of 2010. He saw an ad in the local newspaper looking for volunteers, attended the orientation meeting, and says he doesn’t mind wearing boots and getting wet or being around fish. “They don’t talk back, but they do have personalities I can tell you that!”

Born in Newton, Mass., Reed has lived in Falmouth since the 1950s when his future wife brought him to town. He is a manufacturer’s agent during the rest of the week. A Korean War veteran who went to college on the GI bill to get a degree in liberal arts, Reed worked as a sales representative for a large company for four years but decided it was not for him.  Instead, he started working as a manufacturer’s representative for small family-run businesses, serving as their salesman. Decades later, he is still at it and still enjoying working with people who are committed to their family business.

But on Mondays, the Aquarium is his focus for a few hours. Sometimes he brings in a box of donuts for the staff to share before he starts hosing down. If he takes a minute from his work, he might tell you he is also a painter. And if you ask him to see his paintings, Reed will show you the walls of the Aquarium’s reception desk area, and the inside back wall of the second level where the touch tank and other display tanks are located.  He painted those over a period of time “to help keep it nice for our visitors.”