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Career Story: Program Coordinator At A Biological Field Station

Program Coordinator At A Biological Field Station

Job Title: Program Coordinator At A 15,000 Acre Biological Field Station In The Adirondack Mountains In Upstate New York.

Type of Company: I work for the State University of New York.

Education: BS, Hotel Management, University of Houston •• MPS, Biology, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Previous Experience: I was teaching hospitality-related courses at a community college, then spent several years teaching informal science education with several organizations.

Job Tasks: I seek out and cultivate partnerships with high schools, colleges and independent organizations (professional organizations, clubs, etc.) looking for science enrichment and a field-based educational experience. I design, develop and deliver the programs for those experiences. I have just hired a new person to assist in this, and my primary responsibilities will shift towards building the partnership and programming for a significant new educational initiative separate from the day-to-day educational outreach.

I spend a lot of time networking and advancing ideas on a planning level. This includes meetings with my counterparts in other organizations, as well as political leaders and state agency personnel.

In addition, my job entails a significant amount of project management relating to the advancement and growth of the field station where I work. This includes building renovations and remodeling, as well as smaller-scale projects. For example, we have just finished a $150k addition to our dining center for which I was the program liaison, working in unison with a physical plant liaison, an architect and the contractor. In addition we are in the final weeks of a $250k renovation of an historic building on the property and will soon begin a $150k project to construct a wireless network. These are all projects which I manage from the programs side.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I absolutely love my job. I love working with students and sharing the scientific work we do here in ways that are relevant, enjoyable and engaging. I also enjoy the incredible opportunity to be involved in the construction, literally and figuratively, of this property, helping design and facilitate its growth.

The down side is that these are both full-time plus jobs and I find my stress level is pretty high trying to keep on top of things. For example, this survey was sent to me a month ago, and I have not gotten to it until now, and at that I have come back into work to take care of a myriad of things. It is currently 12:11 AM.

Job Tips: You must be flexible; flexible about how you deliver programming, who your audience is, and your schedule. You must be prepared to be creative in your approach to your subjects, audiences and the way in which you design you programs. I also think it is extremely valuable to approach everything you teach from an interdisciplinary perspective. Finally, you must be organized and have a high level of follow-through. Being out-going and energetic is a bonus.

Additional Thoughts: I came out of the hospitality industry, where I spent almost 10 years managing restaurants and a small country inn. I was very involved in fine dining and high-end wines. This experience gave me outstanding customer service and inter-personal skills. This has been INVALUABLE in helping me in my current position. Every group that contacts me for programming has different needs and different personalities I need to work with. I cannot imagine approaching this job from an educational perspective without the customer service perspective. I have first-hand experience with groups telling me they have stopped going to another regional venue for this exact reason. You can be more knowledgeable than the next guy, but if you can't also make a connection and deliver a quality personal as well as educational experience I don't think you'll reach the same level of success.

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