News from the North Woods
ACNW’s Naturalist Intern Program by Connie Haugen, Program Director
For the last 50 years, ACNW has provided top-quality outdoor, environmental, and experiential education opportunities for thousands of learners of all ages. While our legacy of education began with our founding director, Mike Link, being the only educator in the organization (or the only employee for that matter) educating hundreds, our legacy continues to grow 50 years later, with a robust education staff reaching thousands of learners every year. We couldn’t carry out our very important work for this large number of people without our education team – specifically without our annual cohort of educators that we fondly refer to as our interns.
them critical teaching skills and guidance to be able to successfully engage and inspire our visiting learners. That’s not an easy task when you consider the varied backgrounds, skill levels, personal goals, and personality each incoming intern brings with them. Our interns inject energy, laughter, new skills and fresh-thinking into our daily work lives. We work with them for a year, get to know them, then wish them well as they move on to their next challenge. We are sad to see them go, but then are happy to welcome a new cohort in and start the cycle over again.
Becoming a Naturalist Intern Do you know anyone who is looking to dive in and explore the field of environmental education? We begin the hiring process mid-winter with an annual start in June. The temporary, full-time position runs June-June and is kicked off with our busy summer camp season. We welcome people of all religions, gender expressions, cultures, economic and social backgrounds, academic programs, and life experiences to apply. We strive for a teaching staff as diverse as nature itself. Anyone interested in this rewarding experience can contact me or our education manager, Emily Porter, by emailing email@example.com.
outside and….long hours. There’s simply no getting around the long hours. When visitors are here 24/7, there will be needs that have to be met 24/7. The reward in this is when visitors leave and we receive feedback about how great the programming was, how excellent the quality of teaching is, how welcoming and friendly the staff is, or how this experience changed their life or the life of a student. There’s absolutely nothing better for any of us.
If you’ve ever attended one of our events, a K-12 field trip, community college field class, a Dinner at the Lake, dropped off a youth camper, or rented one of our lodges, you’ve interacted with one of our interns. Not only do they teach the bulk of our youth programming, they are also the ever-present force behind the day-today goings on at the Center. Most of our interns arrive right out of college with a background in biology, ecology, or a similar natural science background. However, some have backgrounds in social sciences or liberal arts. All come with one thing in common – they want to teach. Our Education Manager’s role, in part, is to take this cohort of environmental education hopefuls and unite them in our mission, teach them our curriculum, and give www.audubon-center.org
The beauty of an internship is that it gives one the opportunity to be fully immersed in a career with a relatively short commitment. This is ideal because the work, while rewarding and full of purpose, can be draining and demanding. Environmental education, especially in a residential setting, is not something one can master by taking a class, studying a book, or even by completing a degree program. The only way to know if environmental education is truly the right career path is to jump in head first and swim. Some interns will come to realize it’s not their cup of tea. As anyone who has been through our internship program will tell you, it can be a very challenging yet rewarding experience. Difficult kiddos, uncooperative weather and long hours can be balanced with enthusiastic students, beautiful days spent
As an education facility, we are defined by the visitors we teach and the programs we provide to learners of all ages. Whether it’s our powerful K-12 field trip experience, our summer youth camps, the community Maple Syrup program, our J-term college course, or a Dinner at the Lake, our reach is widespread and our students are many. However, I never want to forget the education happening in our own staff office everyday. The education of the ones doing the educating. Our interns have made a commitment to environmental education, and they are potentially only a step away from being the next leaders and changeagents in the field. They have signed up for a marathon year; to be put out on the front lines, completely vulnerable, with nothing more than a desire to explore the field, a passion for the environment, a love of teaching, and the on-the-job training that we strive to provide. We aim to give them the skills and tools they need to have a successful year here, as well as prepare them for wherever their next steps may lead them. 888-404-7743
Spring/Summer 2019 issue of our twice-yearly newsletter