This May, I started my position as a naturalist and sustainability intern at Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon, Colorado. Our first three weeks of work was entirely training to prepare us for the summer season. Part of our training we focused on learning factual information. This included the history and development of the Vail Valley, the names of native species and how to identify them, and other information about our organization and about the area that would be beneficial to tourists and visitors.
Next, we began to discuss how to create and implement successful programs and the best strategies to use to teach effectively. This training included specific training on how to best to teach children, depending on what age they are. Through this training we also became Certified Interpretive Guides, which is a certification that lasts for your whole life and is a great professional development tool. After graduation, I hope to either continue pursuing environmental education positions, or move to Central America to teach English as a second language—in both of these positions this certification will be extremely helpful in both securing a job and being an effective educator.
The training culminated in us preparing a 10 minute interpretive talking relating to the Colorado region. I did my presentation on the history of the Dillon Dam near the town of Dillon in Summit County. The dam was built to provide drinking water to Denver in the 1960s. The creation of the dam had major impacts on the ecology of the area, and also forced the original town of Dillon to be moved to the banks of the new reservoir, which was controversial at the time. Today, there are still houses and evidence of the old town of Dillon at the bottom of the reservoir.
The training process was both enjoyable and informative, and Walking Mountains did a great job of preparing us to be educators for the rest of the summer. There was also lots of time to bond with the 18 other interns who are also serving as naturalists this summer. The group is a good mix of ages, with the majority being fresh out of college. I am actually the youngest intern (and only intern who isn’t 21). The interns all have similar interests in the outdoors and we’ve already become great friends. Two weeks ago we visited Zion and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah and I’m excited to see what the rest of the summer will have in hold!
Below is a picture of me and some of my fellow interns from our last day of training!