August 26, 2013

An Unforgettable Experience

By Aubrey Voelker, Program Intern

It's amazing how fast 11 weeks pass by working as an intern at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. Being a program intern this summer was better than I could have ever expected. I got the amazing opportunity to work with so many incredible people and animals that made this summer an unforgettable experience.

 Interning at the Science Center involves three different rotations: animal care, outreach, and guided discoveries. During my animal care rotation I got to experience the vast amount of time and work it takes to care for all the animals that the visitors come to see. Most days consisted of cleaning enclosures, preparing diets, doing Up Close to Animals presentations, and a variety of other tasks that allow for no one day to be the same.

The outreach rotation involved going to different places all over New Hampshire, such as libraries and campgrounds, presenting live animal programs with the naturalists. Since I am from Wisconsin and have never been to this part of the country, I really enjoyed being able to travel all over this beautiful state and meet many new and interesting people; I even met a woman from Africa. These outreaches also gave me the chance to get to know the naturalists well and learn a great deal from them.

My final rotation was Guided Discoveries which are week long day programs for kids and each program has a different theme. I got the opportunity to help out with four different Guided Discoveries: Earth Songs, Reptiles and Amphibians, Plant Power and Wild Art. These programs gave me a lot of experience in educating younger students about the natural world around them. All the exciting activities that the students engage in allow for a great deal of learning to occur without the kids even realizing it because they are having so much fun.

While I was significantly able to expand my knowledge about the environment at the science center, I also had access to many other resources. Living in a rustic cottage in the woods, I was able to hear barred owls almost every night. Spending my days off on Squam Lake, I got to observe a variety of birds; a loon family even swam past me once while I was sitting on the dock. I even hiked to the summit of Mount Washington, observing a diversity of plants all the way up (we definitely do not have that kind of hiking available in the Midwest).

My short time at the science center is an experience I will never forget and will benefit me in my future. I cannot recommend this internship enough to anyone who is interested in studying anything relating to wildlife and the environment. This internship gave me experience handling a wide variety of animals, educating others about wildlife that they may find in their own backyard as well as preparing me for the road ahead after college. It saddens me having to leave the Science Center so soon. Every single person here made my summer incredible and I am so thankful I got to work with all the people and animals that make the Science Center so extraordinary.

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