Recovery Act Supports Unique Internship Program
By Keith Shannon '10 (journalism)
Interns Mike Gardner (left) and Jamie
Weliver (center) recording an interview
for a video production.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a long history of hiring interns to work on biological, habitat restoration and visitor services projects. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act enabled the Service’s Northeast Regional Office in Hadley, Mass., to offer a different type of internship experience this year. The External Affairs office, which leads communications for the region, used Recovery Act funding to create an undergraduate internship program in partnership with UMass Amherst.
What makes this internship program unique? Participants are focused on journalism rather than biology, wildlife or natural resources management. These interns are capturing video on Recovery Act projects in the Service, and writing articles like this one.
The External Affairs office has employed six interns since September, 2009, and will hire another two over the summer of 2010. “The internship program has far surpassed my expectations,” says Terri Edwards, public affairs specialist. “These interns hit the ground running and have brought fresh ideas, creative energy and new skills to our organization. They have become an invaluable part of our staff. Most days I wonder what we did without them.”
“It has been an honor to work with people of such professional caliber as the External Affairs staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” says intern James Weliver '10. “Their mentorship has provided me with invaluable insight and experience. I have been given opportunities to excel in areas I am experienced in and challenged to learn new skills and practices. I have confidence that I will leave this program with the skills and experience for a successful career.” Weliver's extraordinary talent in the world of multimedia has helped elevate the Region’s web presence, including a video production about the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative and a nifty tour through the migration of Atlantic salmon.
Intern Mike Gardner '10 (journalism) says, “My duties are varied, but mostly involve writing articles for the Northeast Region’s new Web site on climate change. This particular task allows me to directly use my education in a professional environment, a rare and invaluable experience.” Gardner’s work is featured on both the Service’s Recovery Act site and the region’s climate change site, including an article on green buildings in the region. “More than a job, these internships help prepare students for successful careers and allow them to walk away with an expansive set of new skills,” says Gardner.
“As a student who loves the outdoors, the internship program immediately appealed to me,” says intern Bill Butcher '10 (journalism). “It gives us the chance to gain valuable real-world experience in the realm of public service, and help out a great organization whose mission—to protect and conserve our nation’s fish, wildlife and habitats—we all believe in.” Butcher is writing for the region’s climate change site, including an in-depth look at the risk of kudzu invasion.
The most amazing thing about this internship for me was witnessing how Recovery Act funds have aided small businesses and local economies. I also enjoyed seeing how programs within the Service can directly influence people, especially children. My internship was an awesome experience, and allowed me room for creativity as well as guidance to develop a unique skill set. I worked primarily on covering Recovery Act projects throughout the Northeast Region, incorporating video elements when possible, including one about jobs created in Back Bay, Virginia. I was also lucky to cover the Atlantic salmon egg rearing program, part of the Service’s connecting kids with nature campaign.
“I think this internship program is important because it reminds students who will soon be looking for full-time jobs that they don’t need to limit their search to the private sector,” adds Butcher. “There are interesting, exciting jobs in public service, and this internship helps students get a foot in the door. Interning for the Service has been a great way to get out of the classroom and into the real world.”
As part of the Office of External Affairs Recovery Act Internship Program, Keith Shannon was hired as an outreach assistant in September 2009. He graduated this past winter and has established his own company, Shannon Media. This story is adapted from the original that appears on the Department of the Interior Recovery Investments website.
April 29, 2010