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.
Project Title: Shenandoah Internship Program
Project Purpose: to provide the opportunity for a variety of diverse internships throughout the year at Shenandoah National Park.
- to develop youth for potential careers in the National Park Service
- to expand the Park’s capacity to provide improved services
- to develop youth advocates for our public lands
Project Impact: National trends indicate that fewer students are pursuing careers in natural resources/park management and that youth are becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world.
Internships offer an excellent way for youth to become engaged with the National Park Service, and to provide them with experience to make them more competitive when applying to NPS jobs. This internship program supports a range of Park and NPS goals by encouraging youth to participate in parks, providing professional development opportunities for students wanting to work in National Parks, and engaging youth in the interpretation of Shenandoah.
Project Funding: $92,420
Trust-sponsored interns at Shenandoah National Park greatly increased the capacity of the Park to provide programs to students and visitors. They contributed 7,035 hours to the Park, developed and presented 269 programs sharing knowledge about Shenandoah history, night skies, animals, insects, and plants with National Park visitors. Interns connected with at least 4,803 visitors this year. Cultural resources interns documented 200 specimens in the Natural History Collection, conducted 50 hours of museum object preservation, and assisting with 5 research requests.
Interns forged and fostered deep, personal connections to public lands through their work. Their programs inspired and empowered visitors and students to be mindful stewards of the earth’s resources. The insights shared by interns enable visitors, students, and researchers to have a deeper understanding of the history and ecosystems. Programs and documents developed by interns can be referenced and learned from by future NPS staff. Interns themselves gained valuable work experience, were provided relevant mentorship, and strengthened their connection to the public land management field. In collaborating with NPS staff, interns practiced skills necessary to a career in a public lands management and will be strong candidates for staff positions at public lands management agencies.
Interpretation and Education Internship: Natalie Wright
This internship allowed Natalie to develop skills in public speaking and presenting that will serve her well in future jobs. She impacted the park by creating new programs, worksheets, and other educational activities that will serve as a resource to future education and interpretive rangers. She faced new challenges during the internship, particularly dealing with the fast-paced environment of the visitor center and writing long programs on topics with little prior knowledge. She is interested in working for a land management agency and has previous experience doing environmental education. This internship allowed her to develop new skills and opened the door to future opportunities with the National Park Service.
Interpretation and Education Internship: Laura Henkesz
The internship empowered Laura to apply a passion for working in the outdoors with people of all ages in a National Park. She deeply valued the opportunity to provide a positive and nourishing experience in nature to the public and school groups. She conducted research, wrote programs, and educated on a variety of topics related to the nature and history of the park while refining her public speaking and teaching skills. She is excited to continue to grow and further her role in the National Parks.
Scientist-In-Parks Interpretation Internship: Kristen Steinke
This internship provided a a valuable step in realizing her dream of working at a National Park. She fell in love with working with children in parks while working at a local park district in Ohio. This internship enabled her to host various nature programs, cover wildflowers, pollinators, and black bears. Kristen focuses her programs on how visitors can preserve wildlife. While she most enjoys giving programs, hiking, staffing the visitor center, and swearing-in Junior Rangers have also been highlights of her time in Shenandoah National Park.
Scientist-In-Parks Media Internship: Hannah Prokop
The internship allowed Hannah to provide significant contributions to the media team. She applied her excellent writing skills in developing and appearing in a video about the new Old Rag ticketing system, designed an excellent template for a team project, and composed SOPS for audio descriptions to aid in accessibility. Finally, she conducted research on beetle bio-controls that Shenandoah National Park Trust funded to eradicate the hemlock wooly adelgid and contributed to the media we have created about that project. Hannah has moved into a position with the National Park Service at Cape Hatteras.
Scientist-In-Parks Media Internship: Lawson Osteen
The internship enabled Lawson to work extensively on social media, videography, photography, and graphic design projects that engaged visitors and created new resources for NPS interpreters. Her efforts highlighted park safety, nature facts, and history. Lawson worked closely with Artists-In-Residence at Shenandoah National Park; she planned, interviewed, and filmed the artists as they worked or hosted public programs. She is very grateful to have witnessed the contribution of her physical and digital works in the park communicating the importance of natural and cultural resources. This position has inspired to pursue a career with the National Park Service.
Museum Collections Management Internship: Anna Tulley
The internship offered connections with talented individuals who are eager to serve the American people and share their passion for the Park’s unique landscape. She has helped maintain the archival and museum collections and assist in the preservation and maintenance of several of the Park’s historical structures. She came to Shenandoah with the intent of learning the ins and outs of NPS museum work. She will leave with more than just professional knowledge. She has grown as a researcher, historian, and individual during her internship at Shenandoah National Park.
In addition, we provided funding for Park housing for the following internships:
- Scientist-In-Park: Night Sky Intern (Sophia Cielo)
- Latino Heritage Program: Interpretation intern (Diana Sarmiento)
- National Park Foundation: Women’s Studies intern (Sarah Babcock)
- Community Volunteer Ambassador (CVA): Volunteer Program (Corrina Wendel)
In FY21 the Shenandoah National Park Trust supported six internships in Shenandoah National Park. These internships included two six-month Interpretation and Education interns through the Appalachian Conservation Corps, one Interpretation intern through the Latino Heritage Program, one Cultural Resource intern, one Visual Information intern through the Scientist-in-Park (SIP) program and Astronomy/Night Sky Intern through the Scientist-in-Park (SIP) program.
Interpretation & Education Intern: John Roth
John was born and raised in southern Minnesota on a hobby farm. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he got my bachelor’s in Resource Management with an emphasis in Wildlife Education. Current his hobbies include bird watching, running, and gardening.
Interpretation & Education Intern: Anna Burtch
Anna graduated from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania with two bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Studies/Sustainability and Parks and Resource Management. She also has a minor in Environmental Education and Historical Interpretation. During her final year at college, she interned for the Humane Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh and attended to wildlife such as opossums, squirrels, foxes, a variety of raptor and bird species, as well as many others. While earning her undergraduate degrees Anna had the opportunity to travel to China and New Zealand. In China, she was a research assistant for a GIS project based on forest fires in the Yunnan Province. In New Zealand, she was a foreign exchange student at Victoria University of Wellington and volunteered for a local conservation group that focused on habitat and plant restoration in the city of Wellington. After graduation she took a position as a park ranger for the Army Corp of Engineers at Shenango Lake, Pennsylvania. She also worked for Slippery Rock University’s Environmental Education Center, the Robert A. Macoskey Center. There she attended to the gardens, planted seedlings, took care of the chickens, and helped with interpretative programs.
Interpretation Intern (Latino Heritage Internship Program): Marcus Tierrablanca
Marcus supported Interpretation at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. As an Interpretation intern, he was responsible for researching, preparing, and presenting programs such as guided walks and hikes, interpretive talks, 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, and visitor centers. He also staffed visitor centers and provided information and informal interpretation to visitors during fixed station and roving assignments.
Marcus was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and just graduated from Rice University this May. He majored in Sociocultural Anthropology with a minor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Marcus is really interested in learning about contemporary forms of anthropological study, specifically where the categories of the non-human, technology, and nature intersect with people and cultures. He loves learning about how people interact with their surrounding natural environments and spaces, which is what he chose as my topic for my senior capstone project. With this project, Marcus analyzed current efforts at increasing diversity and inclusion in outdoor spaces on various levels in the country, which is what he wants to potentially look into as a career. After some time, he potentially wants to go back to school for some higher education degree. Outside of academics, Marcus loves being outdoors whenever/however he can, especially if there’s a nice lake or body of water to swim in.
Cultural Resource Intern: Jordan Malhiot
Jordan 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 Jordan worked with 66 mammal accessions and catalog records for 137 associate specimens editing their accession and catalog records and placing appropriate museum documents in the accession folders. She also updated labelling for 6355 history and archeology artifacts and assisted with the FY21 Annual Inventory of Museum Property (ACP). Jordan took the lead shepherding a possible donation of over 200 postcards through the NPS donation process and assisted preparing The Brown House and Rapidan Camp for a re-roofing project by moving almost 130 artifacts off-site to protect them from harm during the project. She also assisted with development of digitization guidance for catalog number SHEN 21203 State Commission on Conservation and Land Development Records. Those instructions, with others assisting, resulted in 54 folders and 1047 pages of land record folders digitized to consistent standards. Lastly, Jordan assisted in developing questions and videotaped oral history interviews for three individuals associated with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
Jordan has a BA in History and Anthropology from the University of Kansas (KU). She is currently completing her MA in Museum Studies, also from KU, with a focus in Collections Management of historical and archaeological collections. During her studies, Jordan worked with KU’s Biodiversity Institute in the Division of Archaeology as a curatorial assistant on collections from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She has also completed two previous internships with the National Park Service. First, at Cape Cod National Seashore as a cultural resource management intern, then at Harry S Truman National Historic Site as a collection management intern, where she predominately worked on re-housing and regular maintenance of the site’s collection. She hopes to deepen and expand her knowledge of National Park Service museum practices, particularly with archival collections, and is interested in working with the National Park Service or other agencies in a collections management position.
Visual Information Intern: Allysah Fox
Allysah 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.
Astronomy/Night Sky Intern: Rebekah Everett
Rebekah was selected as the Astronomy/Night Sky Intern through the Scientist-in-Park program. Her primary responsibilities include providing astronomy/night sky programs and supporting the Night Sky Festival during her 26-week internship. Rebekah also provided training and guidance to park staff on the night sky programs and use of telescopes.
Rebekah was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia and has enjoyed the diverse naturescapes that Virginia has to offer for her whole life. “From the sandy beaches, to the mountains and rivers – I love it all!,” she said. “Pursuing my interest in the outdoors, I graduated from James Madison University in 2019 with a B.S. in Geographic Science and a minor in environmental studies. Upon graduating, I joined the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation, producing written and cartographic resources for National Parks throughout the Northeast. After two years working with parks at the regional level, I am excited to be here at Shenandoah working at the park level and learning more about interpretation and education. I am especially grateful to be at a park that has been the backdrop of so many of my own memories and lessons growing up. This season, I am thrilled to be able to share the wonders of the night with visitors to Shenandoah.”
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.
Interpretation & Education Intern: Ben Johnson
Ben is a Longwood University graduate who majored in public history. He has a passion for working with the public and teaching people about natural and cultural history. He greatly enjoys the outdoors, board games, and gardening.
Watch Ben’s Virtual Programs on Bats and Skyline Drive below!
Interpretation & Education Intern: Cassandra Reed
Geoscientist-in-Parks Media Intern: Madison Heiser
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: Ember Rensel & Sophia Rasiak
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.
“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
Visual Information Intern: Aubry Andreas
Aubry 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.
Cultural Resource Intern: Brittany Hughs
Brittany 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.
We received this touching letter from Brittany at the end of her internship:
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.