Inspiring the Next Generation: Intern Experiences at Environmental Volunteers

May 23, 2023

Interning at Environmental Volunteers has been a transformative experience for Danae, Zoe, Lisa, Sarah, Sherman, and Emily. Each intern had the opportunity to contribute to the organization’s mission of environmental education and sustainability while gaining valuable skills and creating meaningful connections with children and the community. In this blog post, we will explore their unique perspectives and highlight the projects and experiences that made their internships truly fulfilling.

Danae’s Perspective: A Passion for Environmental Education

“As an environmental studies major, my internship at Environmental Volunteers provided me with invaluable experience in being an environmental educator,” Danae shared. “Teaching children in classrooms was a particularly meaningful opportunity, especially as we were transitioning back to normalcy after the pandemic. It allowed me to fulfill my passion for educating future generations about the environment and its importance.”

Danae highlighted the significance of creating table-top activities for children visiting the EcoCenter at Palo Alto Baylands. She expressed, “Developing these activities gave me the chance to demonstrate my creativity and connect it to environmental education.” She found great joy in designing visuals and incorporating valuable research into the activities, providing fun and engaging ways for children to learn about science and the natural world. Danae found it incredibly rewarding to witness the kids become actively engaged and have fun with the activities she helped create. Reflecting on her overall experience, Danae stated, “Interning with Environmental Volunteers has been an amazing journey.” She acknowledged the acquisition of classroom management skills, program coordination expertise, and curriculum creation abilities. She also emphasized the positive impact the internship had on her career, saying, “This opportunity provided me with the experience that led to securing a Programs Coordinator position at Filoli Gardens, where I continue to work with kids, teaching them about the environment.”

Zoe’s Perspective: Sharing Childhood Fascinations 

Zoe’s time at Environmental Volunteers was truly enjoyable, providing her with exposure to the K-5 curriculum and the necessary skills to effectively deliver it to students. The highlight of her internship was witnessing the wonder and excitement of kindergartners during our Schoolyard Snoop Program, particularly when she introduced them to the captivating world of worms. Zoe fondly recalled, “[the kids] were in awe over these little critters that had been living underneath their feet.” This experience reminded her of her own childhood curiosity and created a memorable moment. She took great joy in sharing her interests with the children and nurturing their sense of wonder. Zoe’s favorite part of the internship was the opportunity to expose kids to the same fascinating experiences that captivated her at their age.

Reflecting on her overall experience, Zoe expressed her deep appreciation for working with Environmental Volunteers. The internship not only familiarized her with the K-5 curriculum but also allowed her to actively engage with the community through activities such as running the EcoCenter open hours and family nature walks. In summary, Zoe’s time at Environmental Volunteers was marked by the joy of exposing children to captivating aspects of nature and fostering their curiosity. The internship provided her with valuable skills and deepened her involvement in the community. Witnessing the wonder and excitement of kindergartners during the Schoolyard Snoop program, particularly with the worms, created a memorable and valuable experience for Zoe. She will be continuing her explorations for environmental science at the California Native Garden Foundation this summer.

Lisa’s Perspective: Fostering Environmental Stewardship

For Lisa, the internship at Environmental Volunteers was an opportunity to contribute to projects and programs that promoted environmental education and sustainability. Collaborating with teachers, staff, and volunteers, she assisted in developing and delivering engaging educational programs. Lisa recalls the excitement and enthusiasm of children while teaching our 5th grade Human Impacts kit, which focuses on waste management and protecting the environment. “One of my favorite aspects of this work was seeing the excitement and enthusiasm that the children had for learning about environmental science.” She vividly remembered the children’s fascination with waste management and their eagerness to understand the importance of protecting our planet. “It was incredibly fulfilling to see the children get excited about trash, recycling, reducing waste, disposing of things responsibly, and protecting wildlife,” she added. She also took pride in creating the Cooley Landing Field Trip Guide, a comprehensive resource that empowered 9th graders to explore various environmental topics such as birding and climate change mitigation. Reflecting on her overall experience, Lisa expressed, “My time at Environmental Volunteers was an incredibly rewarding journey.” She gratefully acknowledged the lessons learned from her colleagues, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and partnerships in driving environmental education and sustainability.

Sarah’s Perspective: Leadership and Active Learning

“When I started the Environmental Education Internship position, I was thrilled to immerse myself in the field of environmental education and acquire new skills,” Sarah expressed. Reflecting on her experience, she highlighted the valuable leadership skills she gained during her internship. “One of the main skills I obtained was being a role model for the children, teaching lessons to groups of 5-8 children, and serving as a team coordinator for school programs,” she explained. Sarah also mentioned her proficiency in utilizing Monday project management software and Canva to create visually engaging materials.

Recalling her favorite aspect of the internship, Sarah enthusiastically shared, “Going into the first-grade classrooms to teach the Mammal Movement kit of the Structure and Function program was an absolute delight.” She elaborated on the lesson, emphasizing how it introduced the structures and movement patterns of different mammals. “The kids had the opportunity to pretend to be different mammals, exploring how their unique structures affected their movement. It was remarkable to witness their excitement and engagement as they learned about various animals while actively participating,” Sarah added. She recognized the effectiveness of incorporating physical movement into the teaching process, as it significantly enhanced the children’s retention of the lesson’s key points.

However, the most pivotal moment of Sarah’s internship came during the Wake Up to Nature fundraiser event. She expressed, “This event provided me with an invaluable insight into the incredible impact of Environmental Volunteers and the generosity of the community.” Sarah was deeply moved by the stories shared by teachers, children, and parents, which underscored the importance of environmental education, particularly for young children. She realized that thousands of children not only had fun and exciting experiences through the organization but also gained crucial knowledge about environmental topics that would motivate them to take action, such as picking up trash and recycling. In summary, by teaching lessons and coordinating teams Sarah honed her ability to inspire and guide others in the hopes that they will all become future custodians of our environment.

Sherman’s Perspective: Environmental Education and Supportive Collaboration

“Being an Educational Intern for Environmental Volunteers has been a very rewarding experience,” Sherman reflects. “I took an environmental education class in college, to learn how to teach about the environment. The stuff I learned in that class is nothing compared to what I learned through this internship.” Sherman highlights the value of practical demonstrations, stating, “There are many topics, like weather and climate, that I would never have thought of demonstrating with experiments. Now, I know how to make a jar of fog at home if I ever want to show how it works.”

Regarding the people he worked with, Sherman expresses, “The best thing about this internship are the people you get to work with. Most of the staff have taught the lessons before and are willing to help you figure out how to do it. Everyone is supportive and encouraging. I can’t think of a better environment to learn how to teach.” In summary, Sherman’s reflection underscores the significant knowledge and skills he gained as an Educational Intern. He emphasizes the contrast between his college course and the hands-on learning experiences provided by the internship. Sherman also appreciates the supportive and knowledgeable staff, who contributed to his growth as a teacher. Sherman will be joining the Palo Alto  Jr Museum as their Assistant Director of Bay Camp.

Emily’s Perspective: Fostering Growth and Inspiring Minds 

Emily’s internship experience has been profoundly gratifying, encompassing both school programs and educational materials development. Emily recalls the variety of locations she visited, from Redwood City to her own neighborhood in San Jose. Witnessing the students’ enthusiasm during the EV programs left a lasting impression on her, as she recognizes the positive impact their visits have on nurturing students’ interest in science and nature: “Seeing how much the students light up during the EV program activities made me realize that our visits truly make a difference.”

Throughout her internship, Emily focused on personal growth, particularly in the areas of public speaking and time management. With the support of her supervisors, she gained confidence in projecting her voice in front of classrooms, overcoming her initial concerns of deviating from scripts or making mistakes: “My worries about going off script or saying the wrong thing had quelled as I gained more experience in the classrooms.”

Emily also found joy and fulfillment in creating kits and designing future programs, as these activities allowed her creativity to flourish. As her time at EV draws to a close, she reflects on the profound impact of her experience. Building connections with students, volunteers, fellow interns, and teachers, she expresses gratitude for the abundant support she received: “During my time at EV, I have met and connected with many students, volunteers, other interns, and teachers. The support I received during this experience was bountiful.” Engaging with the community and shaping young minds has left an indelible mark on Emily, inspiring her to apply the knowledge gained during her internship to future endeavors.

In summary, Emily’s internship at EV has been a transformative journey, characterized by meaningful interactions with students, personal growth in public speaking and time management, and the joy of creating educational materials.

Applications are now open for our 2023-2024 internship program. We are actively seeking 4 interns to support our school programs.