Share Your Journey: Jennifer Burnett


Describe your internship. Where was it? How long was it? What were your key responsibilities?

The Environmental Center has a program called Outdoor School. It is a day of interactive activities where students leave the classroom and can connect and learn from nature in a hands on way. I started the internship in April and ended in June. I committed to 100 hours but ended up putting in more before I realized it. In total I taught 1252 students from first to sixth grades.

Why did you choose to intern at this site?

I selected this internship because I was familiar with the Environmental Center and some of the projects they have done. I felt their goals complimented my conservation degree. Also, my friends often tell me that I should be a teacher and this was a way to feel out a possible new career field. Some Outdoor days were at Shevlin Park, but most of the days were at Skyliner Lodge which provided an amazing backdrop to teach about habitats, migration, forest ecology, fire ecology and environmental stewardship among other things. Students were able to learn at their own pace. Once they became engaged the flood of inquiry was activated..

What life lessons did you take from your internship?

My experiences as a Girl Scout leader helped me in adapting to the learning styles and abilities of the range of ages which I was very grateful for since I do not have formal training as a teacher. I was apprehensive at first due to my inexperience, but the vast amount of knowledge that I have for the ecosystems helped me to not miss a beat. I learned to adapt with the groups of students. Some groups were very able to learn from a lecture and record observations style while other groups had to immerse themselves in the lessons in a more sensory way and discover the learning on their own. I gave them the freedom to ask question about what they cared about making the lessons more interactive and less lecture.The latter groups were a challenge at first, but in the end I relished when they made the connections with the science standards and desired outcomes and had their "aha" moments.

I am glad that I approached the experience with an open mind and a strong enthusiasm. I was given lesson plans for each day but also was given the freedom to expand and customize them as I felt was needed which I did often. I grew my own mindset by being open to new methods that other interns were using.

What advice would you give to students to help them make the most of their internship experience?

For advise, I recommend finding something that makes you excited and engaged and keep with it even if it takes different turns than you expect.

Do you have a journey to share? We would love to hear about it!

Jennifer Burnett

Agency: The Environmental Center
Intern Title: Spring Intern - Outdoor School
Major: Natural Resources, Conservation Technology
Graduation Year: Spring 2017