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Career Story: Coordinator Of Teacher Education At A Museum

Coordinator Of Teacher Education At A Museum

Job Title: Coordinator Of Teacher Education At A Museum

Type of Company: I work for a state-funded natural sciences museum, the largest in the southeast US.

Education: BS, Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute •• MS, Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia

Previous Experience: I started as an interpretive naturalist for the North Carolina State Parks, after working as a summer naturalist while in graduate school in between grants one summer. Then I moved up to chief naturalist for the state park system.

Job Tasks: I am in charge of the teacher education program at a large natural sciences museum. My two primary tasks are to deliver teacher workshops to schools across North Carolina that help teachers feel more comfortable taking their students outdoors to learn. We do this in a variety of ways including a series of workshops across the school year for a few selected elementary schools each year. We offer shorter sessions to schools on demand and for a nominal fee. We try to show teachers what they already have on their campus that can be used to teach and we try to give them ideas on how to improve their school grounds as an outdoor learning area. The other main task is to develop and lead experiences for educators (both classroom teachers and informal educators such as park rangers, volunteers, etc.) in natural areas across the state. In addition, I assist with a variety of other museum activities - museum educational publications, exhibits, special events, answering questions about natural sciences for the public, etc.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part is sharing something I am passionate about (the natural world) with others and helping them get excited about it, learn new things about nature, and figure out ways they can inspire others to better understand and appreciate our world. The worst part is dealing with some of the administrative things that have resulted from a recent decline in our state budget. But I really love my job, so that makes any hassles seem less frustrating.

Job Tips:
1.) One of the best ways to learn about a career and to have potential employers learn about you is to volunteer or take part-time position if no permanent ones are currently available. Look for seasonal positions, internships, or volunteer opportunities.

2.) Get involved with professional organizations such as the regional, state, or national environmental education groups.

3.) Follow your passions, decide on areas that really interest you and seek out opportunities to learn more about them. Take courses, workshops, and attend local outings with environmental organizations.

Additional Thoughts: My career has given me amazing freedom of choice in what I do and has offered incredible opportunities such as designing and leading educational workshops to Yellowstone, and spending time in the Arctic with scientists studying climate change. Photography, communication, and writing skills have really helped me broaden my opportunities and what I can offer to my participants. Being flexible and being dedicated to what I do have been important to my success. But the most important thing has been loving what I do and being enthusiastic....that really helps others get excited about learning.

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