Emma Runyon, Mount Saint Helens Visitor Center
For everyone that doesn’t know me, my name is Emma Runyon and I received the internship stipend from NAI for my Interpretive Naturalist internship at the Mount Saint Helens Visitor Center in Washington. Over this first month at my internship, I have learned so much about interpretation that it blows my mind. So far, I have had the opportunity to work both at the Washington State Park Visitor center as well as at Johnston Ridge Observatory which is run by the US Forest Service allowing me to experience how different agencies do interpretation and approach it. I have been able to observe several different types of programs from guided hikes to formal talks, to evening programs at local state parks all by different rangers and different agencies, introducing me to a wide variety of styles.
One of the evening programs I shadowed was all about bats. During the craft part of the program, I had the opportunity to help kids with the craft of making bat ears. Also, as seen in the picture to the left, I was able to channel my inner bat with my supervisor Alysa who taught the program. In addition to shadowing a variety of programs, I have worked at the information desk at both facilities giving directions, making recommendations, going over junior ranger and junior geologist packets, and answering a variety of questions. I have also been working on a form of self-guided interpretation through designing
and making plant identification tags to go in the teaching garden for people to be able to practice their identification skills. On my days off, I find myself still being connected to my internship by going on hikes in the area so I can better recommend hikes to people when they ask because of my experience.
The picture to the right is of me on top of Harry’s Ridge with Mt St. Helens in the background. This is one of the hikes at Mount St. Helens. I feel this internship is doing such a great job of getting my foot in the door and experiencing the different sides to interpretation which will aid me in my future career. I am having so much fun learning more and I can’t wait to learn more in the coming month.
Eliza Kurth, Denali National park
Journal entry #1: July 18th, 2019
I would have never thought that a summer internship could turn into such an incredible passion. Through SCA, I have returned for a second summer in Denali National park; a place that is truly addicting and that I can see myself returning to for years to come. At the beginning of the summer, I was nervous, but mostly excited. I have always considered myself a quiet and reserved person, so essentially becoming a full time public speaker was quite intimidating to say the least. Many days in training, learning all about what the field of interpretation really meant, I found myself frequently wondering what I had gotten myself into.
Four months in, I can confidently say, that coming here to do this incredible work has been one of the best decisions of my life. I have found a love for educating people about this incredible place around me, and I could not be happier. My confidence in front of people has grown and my newfound ability to speak out has changed my outlook on both myself and my future. After this internship, I am now confident that the field of interpretation is something that I want to pursue.
Journal entry #2: August 9th, 2019
My favorite thing about interpretation is seeing the different reactions that people have after a program.
One night after a particularly well attended campground program, I had the most meaningful experience with a ten-year-old who was visiting from Israel. In a program about preparedness and appreciation for the winter season, I discuss my experience with the northern lights. It is my moment when I was truly in awe of the nature. I then ask people to think about what this moment was for them, as use that to facilitate personal thoughts and experiences throughout the remainder of the program.
On this particular night, after my program, this young girl came up to me, with slightly scattered English, and wanted so badly to hear more about the northern lights. It was her dream to see them, and she wanted me to just paint a picture in her mind. So we sat there for a long time just talking. After this, I asked her what her experience was. She then told me about the time that she watched a volcano erupt. We sat in the amphitheater together for over 30 minutes after the program had ended, just talking, and being amazed by each other’s experiences. She was so excited, and I was so moved by her passion.
This was such an inspiring interaction, and the potential that I may have a lasting impact on young people truly excites me.