How did you first hear about the Bio/Diversity Project? What encouraged you to apply? What initially interested you about the internship?
Through the Community and School Garden Program at the University of Arizona, and I thought it was perfect so I applied!
What was the most rewarding part of the internship?
It was all so rewarding. Two things that were equally as rewarding: 1) gaining experience in the K-12 classroom and growing as an educator and 2) making connections with fellow interns and folks in different conservation organizations. Being able to gain experience through a reputable organization was a huge asset when applying for jobs.
What was the most challenging part?
One of the most challenging parts was finding a balance in the classroom. I wanted to find a way to connect and make a lasting impact on students that I only saw once per week while trying to teach them these big ideas about biodiversity through interesting and engaging lessons. And all this was happening while making sure classroom management is under control! It was always a challenge to find a way to reach students in a way where the message that your trying to relay really matters.
Since finishing The Bio/Diversity Project, have you completed any additional internships, volunteer, or job opportunities?
Yes, I have had the opportunity to work for various local environmental organizations including; Reid Park Zoo, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Environmental Education Exchange, and currently for Pima County.
Tell us a little about your current position.
I currently deliver programs throughout Pima County and attend events in order to educate people of all ages about our local environment and its history. I love that I have the opportunity to engage with all of the diversity within our city and county. I also have the opportunity to collaborate on and create new programs regularly that better serve our communities and their needs/interests. This position is a great melding of the things I studied in college, my experience with the Bio/Diversity internship, and my personal passions.
What skills, knowledge, or connections did you gain by being an intern with The Bio/Diversity Project that helped you get to where you are today?
The Bio/Diversity Project gave me the opportunity to examine various teaching styles and theories so that I could carry those things with me into “the field”. The positive and affirming classroom management skills I learned have served me countless times as well as the ability to consider the backgrounds and varying needs of different types of students. Also, I can put together a 20 slide PowerPoint and deliver it in 5 minutes guaranteed.
While The Bio/Diversity Project is an environmental science outreach program, it also aims to foster diversity and inclusion in the environmental workforce. Since being part of the program, have you had the opportunity to continue working to foster diversity and inclusivity in any way (e.g., through your job, volunteer activities, etc)? If so, please tell us how.
This has been a priority of mine in every aspect of my career since the project. I worked for a time at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum where I helped build a week long camp for high school students designed to foster diversity in natural resource related jobs and open doors to further opportunities. With my work at the county I aim to make diversity and inclusion a driving force in my programs.
What does it mean to be an alumni of the Bio/Diversity Project? In what ways has this internship shaped you?
This experience has totally shaped my career goals. I always try to tie my work back to being a driving force within the community who promotes diversity in everything I do. I feel like the Bio/Diversity Project helped me practice how to get my message out that anyone can “do” science, especially to people who may have not heard that yet. Being an alumni means to promote the message of biodiversity and continue it in every facet of what you pursue.
Do you see yourself using the skills that you gained in the Bio/Diversity Project in your current position?
Yes, every day!
What would you say to someone who is considering participating in the Bio/Diversity Project?
You have to do it and give it a try! If it sounds like something you might be interested in, go for it. This internship afforded me opportunities to work with amazing institutions and individuals, to have measurable impact on the children I’ve worked with and the communities I have served, and through it I have gained skills and perspective I did not have before. Totally worth it.
What’s next for you?
My long-term career aspirations include wanting to start my own adventure school. This would be sustainability focused and students would learn how to be self-sustaining and how to survive without modern day technology. I would love for this school to focus on under-served and urban youth as well as LGBTQ youth.