Job Title: Education Specialist
Type of Company: I work for a state-funded museum whose exhibits are focused on the natural environment and the biodiversity of North Carolina and the southeastern US.
Education: AA, Wake Tech Community College BS, Biology, North Carolina State University
Previous Experience: I worked as an intern with the museum before applying for one of the full-time educator positions.
Job Tasks: I do museum outreach programs for schools in North Carolina. The outreach staff are responsible for taking a piece of the museum out to communities that cannot easily visit us at our Raleigh location. Most of my work is done in eastern North Carolina.
These outreach programs involve live animals and real specimens. Public speaking skills are required. I have to know how to talk to a wide variety of age groups and knowledge levels. I have to be well-versed in the natural history of the plants and animals of North Carolina.
I also create animal-themed resource boxes for school. This involves picking an animal or a plant (wolves or birds of prey, for example), finding real specimens, age-appropriate books and reading materials, field guides, and other hands-on items (such as puppets and models) to assemble the boxes. I am responsible for purchasing all items and budgeting appropriately. Training teachers on the use of these materials is also part of my job. I am also responsible for teaching distance learning classes. These classes are held by connecting over the internet. Schools are across the state and even out of the state. We can see and hear them and they can see and hear us. We don't have to leave the museum to have a class and the school kids typically don't leave school to connect with us. We send hands-on materials for all of our classes. I assist in the maintenance of these materials.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of working at the museum is working with a staff that cares about and appreciates nature. I consider myself a "nature nerd" and it is wonderful to be able to work alongside other people passionate about their jobs. Also, everyday is different. Programs vary from day to day and I like that.
My least favorite part can be the long travel times. Sometimes it can be 2 or 2.5 hours of driving just to get to a school. Then it is a long drive back after the program.
Job Tips: Do several internships while in college. Internships help you to gain more real world experience. Also, volunteering is a great way to see if you are interested in a field. It usually involves a minimal time commitment and you get good experience. It also looks great on a resume.
Additional Thoughts: People in environmental education are not in the field because of the high salaries. You will want to be an educator for other reasons, ones I feel are more rewarding than a paycheck. When you change the way children and adults view the world and the animals that live in it you get a feeling of accomplishment and pride.
"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in." - Rachel Carson
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