Posts tagged ‘internship’

February 19, 2015

We Say “Goodbye” to Steve: Reflections of a Science Education Intern

by Melissa Harding


Steve Bucklin, our 2014 science education intern, will be ending his internship this week. He will be leaving Science Education and Research, but not Phipps, as he will continue to work in the Conservatory with our Discovery Education department, providing wonderful education experiences to our youngest guests and their caregivers. We are so excited that Steve will be staying a part of the Phipps family!

The following essay, written by Steve, is a reflection on the time he spent with our department:

It’s amazing both how long and how short one year can seem. In the time it took for the Earth to revolve around the sun once, countless organisms lived out their entire lives (think of all the annual flowering plants that go from seed to plant to flower and back again!), and I completed my internship with the Science Education and Research team at Phipps. Looking back on the past year, it’s shocking how quickly the time has passed, but the experience I’ve gained from the time I’ve spent at Phipps has made it one of the most impactful years of my life.

At the start of my internship, teaching made me extremely nervous. Standing in front of a group of 10 to 30 or more young children and helping to shape the way they think and what they know isn’t an easy task, and it becomes a lot more complicated when you add in things like crafts and snacks. However, over the course of my internship, I was able to teach many classes and work on becoming comfortable and relaxed in the classroom. I’ve learned that being relaxed is essential not only to the classes you teach being more effective and entertaining for the students, but it makes teaching a lot more fun too! Now I feel a sense of excitement when I get to lead a class and I am much more confident in front of groups. With the help and guidance of the wonderful Science Education team at Phipps and a lot of practice, I’ve really begun to develop my teaching skills. In total, I helped the Science Education team teach 36 field trip programs, 25 Little Sprouts camp classes, and 35 other seasonal and summer camps.


One great example of the progress I made during my internship is what I accomplished as part of the Eco Challenge. The Eco Challenge is an annual event at Phipps where students from different middle and high schools complete a series of challenges designed to engage them in thinking critically about environmental issues and sustainability. My job was to create an activity focused on the effect of food on the environment for middle school students. It was a daunting task, to say the least. The end product was a game that was both an age-appropriate way to discuss the environmental impact of food and that empowered student to make positive decisions. This program was very inspiring to me. Educating both others and myself about the environment has been a primary focus in my life since high school. To be able to do so for nearly 150 middle school students in a single day left me feeling unlike I ever have before.

As my time in the Science Education department reaches an end, I am sure that I am heading down a path that is right for me. Doing this work is the most rewarding thing I have ever experienced and I hope I am able to continue doing it! As for my plans now, I’ll still be around the Conservatory for the foreseeable future. I have been working part-time in the Discovery Education department doing public programs for children since December and plan to continue my work there as I search for full-time employment. There’s no telling what the future holds, but the many opportunities I have had to gain experience in environmental education since graduating college have left me feeling very optimistic. I am very glad that I have the opportunity to continue working at Phipps and that I’ll be able to stop in and visit the awesome staff in Science Education as I keep progressing as an educator!

We would also like to thank Steve for all the hard work that he has done for us this past year.
We are so proud of him and wish him the best of luck!

The above photos were taken by Phipps Science Education and Research staff.

December 11, 2012

We say “Goodbye” to Eva: Reflections on her internship connecting children to nature

by Melissa Harding

Phipps Science Education 176

Our Science Education Intern, Eva, will be graduating this month and leaving Phipps. In January, she will be starting a Spanish immersion program in Guatemala and working with local permaculture farmers. In the fall, she will go to work for Greencorps, a year-long environmental field organizing school, where she will learn how to affect environmental change throughout the country.

The following essay, written by Eva, are her reflections looking back on her internship.

As my internship draws to a close, and I head off on the next adventures of my life, I want to take time to reflect and thank Phipps for the wonderful opportunity it has provided me. Unlike other internships, where you might find yourself getting coffee or doing never-ending data entry, interning at Phipps makes you part of the team.

Almost immediately, I was teaching programs to young children; about butterflies, tropical forests, and seeds. Like so many other things in life, the best way to learn to teach is by simply doing, and then doing it again, and again. Phipps provided this opportunity for me by throwing me to the training grounds, allowing me to connect with children and letting me realize what works and what doesn’t.  I found my own knowledge of plants and habitats expanding and with it my love for the plants at Phipps, with all of their intricacies and many uses.

The summer at Phipps is its own beast; hectic, messy, fun, and rewarding. As an intern, you are involved in every camp. This past summer we ran twelve one-week camps, which was more than ever before. You know your job is great when you are getting to paid to make recycled crafts, take pictures of inspiring flowers, play with worms, and build relationships with children that may inspire young botanists, or build the future generation of environmental leaders.


I also am grateful for timing of my internship. Phipps is in an exciting position—the G-20 put the conservatory on the global stage, and the opening of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (projected to be the most sustainable building in the world) has brought yet even more national attention. Phipps is going through a phase of expansion, on the cutting edge of new plant-based research and sustainability initiatives. This meant that, as a sustainability buff, I was able to attend rewarding conferences and events that drew internationally recognized professionals.

As a microcosm of greater Phipps, the Science Education Department is also expanding, with new programs such as Ed-Ventures and Little Sprouts: Single Servings, a new blog, and more off-season camps than ever before. This allowed me the opportunity to help shape the direction of a department tirelessly working to connect children and nature, inspiring an appreciation that will translate into action. From brainstorming new ideas and seeing them become reality, to developing new curriculum, it is exciting to see a department in transformation. Interning at Phipps allowed me to work in one of the most beautiful places in Pittsburgh, in an exciting and transformative time, with a group of inspiring and dedicated individuals, towards a rewarding goal. Thanks for the opportunity, Phipps!

We would also like to thank Eva for all the hard work that she has done for us this past year. We are so proud of her and wish her the best of luck with her exciting future plans.
Eva, you are a fantastic part of our team and we will truly miss you!

The above photos were taken by Christie Lawry and Melissa Harding.


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