Learning by Doing: Internships at The Wild Center

Written for interns, by interns.

Boundless opportunities await enthusiastic individuals breaking into the field of interpretation.  Each year, a new group of interns sets forth to make memories, learn the natural history of their surroundings, and 'wow' visitors--all while in the heart of the Adirondack mountains.

The Wild Center is currently seeking 2018 Museum Fellows. The deadline for applications is October 27th, 2017.  

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Professional development

The Wild Center offers many opportunities for personal and professional development. All summer interns receive training and certification through the National Association of Interpretation as a Certified Interpretive Guide. This training provides an intensive look at how to develop and deliver meaningful programs to a variety of audiences using the principles of interpretation. All interns are also provided CPR/AED training and certification.

Canoe interns are assisted by staff to earn their New York State Guide License before the season begins. This is a NYS requirement in order to lead the daily, on-site canoe trips.

Animal care interns receive specialized training in the care of the Center's education animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. 

Maple interns receive in-depth training regarding the sugaring process and the use of sugaring equipment.

In addition to the shared responsibilities that all interns fullfill, like leading walks on the trails and developing and implementing live animal programs, each intern also chooses special projects based on their personal interests and professional goals to work on throughout their internship. To see some examples of special projects, take a look at the "Special Projects" block on this page.

Credit where credit is due

Is your internship for college credit? 

The Wild Center will work with your college or university to ensure that this internship meets your institution's standards. Staff at The Wild Center strive to create an environment that supports students along their path toward graduation. The Wild Center has hosted credit-based internships for both undergraduate and graduate students from schools like SUNY-ESF, Antioch New England, and Ursinus College. 

A symbiotic relationship

The connection between The Wild Center and its interns shares a great resemblance to lichen--a unique, symbiotic relationship where each benefits from the other. The Wild Center provides a stimulating environment that fosters professional development, and each intern brings new life and new ideas to the museum. At the beginning of the season, interns receive intensive training that focuses on the creation and delivery of thematic programming based on the principles of interpretation. This prepares our seasonal staff to start the busy summer season equipped with the professional tools and confidence for a successful summer and beyond.

With the support of The Wild Center's experienced full-time staff, interns will interact with visitors and school groups on a daily basis to uphold our mission: "To ignite an enduring passion for the Adirondacks where people and nature can thrive together to set an example for the world." They will spend time learning the flora and fauna, investigating the nature trails, getting familiar with the museum's exhibits, meeting our collection of animals, and exploring the scenic Raquette River by canoe. There is a wide breadth of opportunities that can be tailored to each individual's professional goals and many excellent mentors to learn from.

Are you interested in grant writing? Website development? Animal training? Local food? Climate change? Being outside? The list goes on. Few internships can boast the variety that The Wild Center offers and, as a young museum, the opportunities are always growing and changing. The Wild Center has an exciting future ahead and you could be a part of it. Visit here for more information on joining our team.

Photos from the field

Check out this image gallery to see some of our naturalist interns in the field.

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Special projects

Some examples of past special projects:

  • ÎCreating and providing weekly programming for reoccuring groups like the Tupper Lake Day Camp
  • ÎAssisting in the training of an animal
  • ÎDeveloping interpretive signage for indoor and outdoor exhibits
  • ÎCollaborating to plan large community events like FlavorFest and BuzzzFest
  • ÎBecoming the season's expert on Science on a Sphere technology
  • ÎCoordinating and supporting volunteers
  • Creating programming to support the yearly theme
  • ÎDeveloping new website content

Although there is always a list of projects that need to get done, interns can create project ideas that they feel will best help them professionally or will benefit the museum in a new way.  New opportunities are always arising.

Meet Alessia McCobb

Alessia McCobb was one of our first year-long interns who started with us during the winter of 2015. She was one of our star interns, playing an integral part in our Moment's art space and on our Wild Walk programming team. Here is a reflection of her experience with The Wild Center.

 

I became a year-long intern at the Wild Center in 2015, the winter after I graduated from college. Moving to a small town in the Adirondacks at the end of November was sure to be an adventure, and I really enjoyed becoming a part of this community. At The Wild Center, I got to wear many hats—both literal and metaphorical. Being here for a year allowed me to get involved in so much, from handling live animals to getting students excited about erosion, from designing Wild Walk interactives to creating art projects, from leading naturalist walks to planning events. I greatly appreciated taking on such a wide range of projects, both because I developed far more skills than I expected to at one job, and because nothing ever got tedious. I feel especially lucky to have been here for the opening of Wild Walk, the beginning of an exciting new phase for the center, and for the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit, where high school students re-inspired me to have faith in and enthusiasm for solving the challenges that our planet faces. I look forward to returning to this beautiful place often, and to a career that involves what I’ve learned and come to love here at The Wild Center.

 

 

Meet Pat Dunn

Pat Dunn was one of our star interns who started with us during the summer of 2012 with the intention of staying just for the summer. Thankfully, he ended up staying for much longer! Here is a reflection of his experience with The Wild Center.

 

I was an intern at The Wild Center for seven months immediately after I completed my undergrad, from May - December 2012. It was an incredibly meaningful experience for me, one that stoked an interest in place-based learning that has informed all of the work I have done since. As interns, we learned about the Adirondack plants and animals, but, more importantly, we learned about the skill and care it takes to illuminate, for others, the curiosities in that complex ecosystem. In all of my time at The Wild Center, I felt like a part of the team, working up front with museum visitors but also behind the scenes, coordinating events, working creatively on exhibits, and becoming acquainted with life at the museum, day-to-day. I am very grateful for the experience I had at The Wild Center, and feel so fortunate to still be in touch regularly with the people who helped to facilitate it. I am now applying the environmental interpretation principles I learned at The Wild Center on an organic vegetable farm in Washington, where I am coordinating the kids' education programs. I wouldn't be here today if I had never worked at The Wild Center.