Anyone who has worked with or managed interns knows it is an investment of time and resources. But, if the internship is well-structured and the interns are dedicated and capable, it is an important investment to make. Each year, donors like you support 12-week internships in Shenandoah National Park. These young adults come to us from around the country. They receive training in public speaking, first aid, search and rescue and park operations; and front-line experience as Park Rangers.
- Ben Johnson – Interpretation and Education Internship with partnership from the Appalachian Conservation Corps
- Cassandra Reed – Interpretation and Education Internship with partnership from the Appalachian Conservation Corps
- Madison Heiser – Media Specialist with Partnership from the Geoscientist-in-Park program
This year the internship program at Shenandoah National Park was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in several different ways. First, many of the internships had to be modified from the original expectation of work in response to the pandemic and to ensure the safety of our staff and visitors. Several of the interns teleworked and redesigned programs to be virtual instead of in-person. Second, park housing was restricted to one person to a house to reduce the impact or spread of the Covid-19 virus. This limited the number of spots available to interns in park housing. As a result a few internships such as the Cultural Resource internship, the Latino Heritage Internship and the Astronomy Internship through the Geoscientist-in-Park Program were cancelled.
Overall, the interns managed to overcome many unforeseeable obstacles, were exceptionally flexible with the ever-changing situation and brought youthful positive energy to the experience.
Madison Heiser’s Facebook Video
Facebook Post about Interns
Ben Johnson’s program about Bats
Ben Johnson’s take over of ACC’s Facebook page
In FY19 the Shenandoah National Park Trust supported five internships in Shenandoah National Park. These internships included two six-month Interpretation and Education interns, one Interpretation intern through the Geoscientists in the Parks (GIP) program, one Cultural Resource intern and one Visual Information intern. Overall the grant was spent with only minor deviations from the original agreement. The most significant deviation was the Education and Interpretation internships were combined into a 26-week opportunity, previously it had been two 12-week opportunities, and the Appalachian Conservation Corps partnered with the park to recruit for and support the internships.
Interpretation and Education Interns:
Two interns, Ember Rensel and Sophia Rasiak, were selected to work with Interpretation and Education for 26 weeks each. This is the first year that Shenandoah partnered with the Appalachian Conservation Corps to recruit and fill these positions. As Interpretation and Education interns they were responsible for preparing and presenting programs for the general public and educational groups including guided walks and hikes, interpretive talks, Junior Ranger programs, curriculum-based education programs, and illustrated evening programs on the Park’s interpretive themes (wildlife, geology, ecology, history, climate change, ecology). These programs were presented across diverse Park locations including amphitheaters, trails, visitor centers, and historic buildings. They also staffed visitor centers and provided information and informal interpretation to visitors during fixed station and roving assignments.
One intern was selected through the GIP program to also support Interpretation. Amy Morris, who was partially funded through a cost share by the NPS Geologic Resource Division, supported Interpretation at the Byrd Visitor Center. As an Interpretation intern she was responsible for researching, preparing, and presenting programs such as guided walks and hikes, interpretive talks, Junior Ranger programs, and evening programs on the Park’s interpretive themes (wildlife, geology, ecology, history, climate change, etc). These programs were presented in a diversity of Park locations including campgrounds, trails, visitor centers, and historic buildings. She also staffed visitor centers and provided information and informal interpretation to visitors during fixed station and roving assignments.
Cultural Resource Intern
One Cultural Resources intern, Brittany Hughes, was also funded through this grant. This position assisted with all aspects of museum collection management for a collection of over 1,000,000 objects (cultural and natural history). Collections are located in two historic house museums (Rapidan Camp and Massanutten Lodge), the Byrd Visitor Center, and the collection storage/research space. As an Intern she assisted with documentation, preservation, access and use of museum collections. She performed cataloging including labeling and data entry into the Interior Museum Collection Management System (ICMS), assisted with accessioning and loans, photo documentation of objects; performed preventive maintenance, some light conservation work, rehoused objects, assisted with winter breakdown of historic house museums, environmental monitoring including integrated pest management, light readings, temperature and humidity; assisted with research requests, digitized and researched historic photographs for use on social media. Assisted with reincorporation of natural history specimens back into the museum collection. Worked with oral history program and GIS/museum collections projects.
Visual Information Intern
Aubry Andreas supported the Media and Visual Information program. She worked with the Park’s visual media staff to assist with all activities associated with numerous film projects. She helped scout locations, prepared, packed, transported, cleaned, and maintained film equipment including cameras, lenses, batteries, tripods, and other equipment associated with obtaining footage. She also, under the direction of the staff and producer, captured film and then processed and logged footage according to the established workflow of the media department. The intern also created short videos including researching, developing key concepts, storyboarding, capturing footage, processing, logging, and editing to convey a specific message to the public. The intern also captured still photography for use in projects and the press.
This is a link to a video about Aubry and how much her internship meant to her:
Quotes from some of the interns.
“I was placed at Shenandoah National Park to serve as an Interpretation and Education intern for the 2019 season. From May to August, I was most focused on developing and presenting interpretive programs, but then switched gears to work directly with the Education Team. During the month of September I received well-organized and thorough training from fantastic leadership. I kept on track with the Education Intern Professional Development outline, which directed my progress and learning resources. In October, I began leading my own curriculum-based education programs and I felt very confident and prepared as a result of the training. Wrapping up, I felt as though I had developed a great deal of outdoor education skills and gained access to many important resources. After learning much more than I anticipated, I now have the experience to go for the next position in my career.
Although I am not entirely sure in my choice of profession, I do feel very well prepared to seek and apply for jobs in this field. I now know how to meet educational objectives and use available resources to develop education programs. I also feel as though my experience has been extraordinary in that I could have never expected to learn or lead so much! Wherever I go next, I will carry the education experience I have gained at Shenandoah National Park.” – Sophia Rasiak
“I felt just challenged enough to recognize regular growth, but there was always support there to lean on and learn from, which was comforting. Shannon, Jonathan, Dana, and Regina were constantly checking in with me to see how I was doing and what I thought I might need to push myself a little further or improve my work. This is seriously one of the most high-functioning teams I’ve ever seen, and it’s been awesome to get a feel for how it works and to see just how much respect each person had for everyone else on the team, even when they disagreed or had different styles of teaching. Being surrounded by that kind of personal and professional character made me more aware of and intentional about my own attitudes, expectations, and interactions with and about my coworkers; I think that might be one of the biggest take-aways from my time with Education, honestly, both personally and professionally.” – Ember Rensel
Dearest Members of the Shenandoah National Trust
I want to express to you my greatest appreciation for providing me the opportunity to work as a Museum Collections Management intern for Shenandoah National Park. I applied for the Museum Collections Management internship for Shenandoah National Park through American Conservation Experience a couple years ago and was not picked as part of the best candidates. As discouraged as I was, I decided this was too great of an opportunity not to try again, and I am glad I did. Kandace offered me the intern position under the Shenandoah National Trust and I very gratefully accepted. I have gained more professional knowledge and experience, working under Kandace, then I had ever imaged I would in only 16 weeks. None of the other intern positions I saw appeared to offer the scope of experience this one provided. This opportunity has developed my scope of professional experience exponentially.
My career goal is to work in Cultural Resource Management for the National Park Service. Throughout my time with Shenandoah National Park, I am confident, with all the additional skills gained here, that I am one step closer to this goal. Some of the highlights of my time here include; assisting in required annual Museum Management reporting, expanding my knowledge of collections preservation techniques and monitoring the collections environment, learning how the National Park Service uses its museum collections management software to catalog both cultural and natural history items, learning about copyright laws and how to go about obtaining these rights for historic art works, and becoming familiar with closing down operations for museum houses. In addition to museum collections management, I have also gained skills in interpretation, Geographic Information Systems mapping and the use of GPS Trimble, working with Photoshop, and attaching metadata to historic photographs for public viewing. Furthermore, I gained knowledge on how NPS ensures policy compliance under the National Environmental Policy Act for park projects and development. Finally, I have become more familiar with Tribal Affiliations and the National Park Service.
Kandace is a wonderful woman who truly gives her interns a broad scope of expertise. If she is unable to provide you with a skill you require she always knows who can. Whenever I expressed interest in cross-training Kandace would always know who to call.
Shenandoah National Park is truly a beautiful park with such a diverse history associated with it. I will always cherish the memories of driving through Skyline Drive, taking in all the beautiful views, working in President Hoover’s summer retreat, walking through the CCC Nira camp, and most of all learning from the amazing people that work and volunteer here. This is an excellent program for all young professionals seeking careers in Museum Management and Kandace is an amazing advocate and teacher. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone interested in Museum Collections Management. I can’t express how truly grateful I am for this entire experience. Thank you for funding my time here and helping me build my career in the National Park Service.