Diving into work

Senior volunteers with marine wildlife


Bill Hunnewell

Senior Margaret Millar chops fish while preparing meals for sea lions at the beginning of her Sunday shift. Millar began volunteering as part of the Youth Crew at TMMC in Feb. 2019.

Grace Krumplitsch, Web Editor

While many teenagers spend their Sunday mornings catching up on sleep or spending time with friends, senior Margaret Millar is up at the crack of dawn chopping fish, corralling rescued seals and assisting veterinarians. 

Millar works as a Youth Crew Volunteer at the Marine Mammal Center, a non-profit animal hospital in Sausalito that focuses on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of wild marine mammals.  

Every Sunday I leave the house at 6:30 a.m. so I can get to the center by 7,” Millar said. “The coolest thing I got to do recently was care for the sea turtle we had on site by helping the vets put her in a pool and keep an eye on her during her swimming time, which was super exciting for me since I had never worked with a sea turtle before.” 

When she was 11 years old, Margaret was captivated with saving and rehabilitating animals after helping her mother rescue their dog, Rajah. Nearly everywhere she travels, Margaret and her family make a point to visit local zoos and aquariums.

“For as long as I can remember, she’s had a special connection with animals,” Lance Millar, Margaret’s father, said. “It’s an understatement that she has a soft spot for any and all creatures. She has rescued numerous birds who’ve flown into our windows and insects crawling around the house.”

To work as a member of the Youth Crew at TMMC, Millar had to go through a lengthy application process that consisted of attending an open house, turning in letters of recommendation and filling out an application. 

She is always willing to help and not afraid to roll up her sleeves and do whatever is needed,” Colleen Rudd, Sunday Day Crew Assistant Supervisor said. “Maggie is dependable, my ‘go-to’ girl.”

Sometimes work at TMMC can be difficult and emotional when caring for patients with critical injuries such as shark bites, entanglements or who are terminally-ill, according to Rudd. 

“I wanted to stay away from working in the veterinary field because I’m a major softie and didn’t want to experience the hard parts of vet work like patient deaths or hard diagnoses,” Margaret Millar said. “Working at the Marine Mammal Center has shown me that while there’s still moments that can be really upsetting, there’s a ton of good that we do that keeps me going.”

Aside from volunteering at TMMC, Millar manages a busy schedule as a student in the International Baccalaureate Programme, an actor in the fall play and a senior in the midst of the college application process. 

Teenage life today seems more harried and stressful compared to my generation, and we try to actively encourage Margaret to follow her passions, which includes her love of animals,” Lance Millar said. “I feel like her experience at MMC has really helped her gain a sense of responsibility and additional maturity.” 

After she finishes her higher education, Millar plans on pursuing a career in animal science and working hands-on with endangered animals. 

My end goal is to open an endangered animal sanctuary or a wild animal hospital in Africa or the Middle East, where there’s tons of illegal poaching for trophies and abductions for the illegal pet trade,” Margaret Millar said. “Seeing the gradual changes in behavior as animals get better is an amazing thing to experience.”