Digging into Dallas Arboretum Education Internships
Interns descend on the Dallas Arboretum Education Department every summer to spend 11 weeks helping us make our mission a reality. These college-aged interns work in summer camps with children aged 3 to 13, and through their close collaboration with our education staff they learn the ins and outs of teaching summer camps, listen to speakers from various Arboretum departments, and visit other not-for-profit organizations that provide informal education.
Phases of Education Interning at the Dallas Arboretum
Interns progress through three phases during their internship: training and observation, STEM teaching with support, and leading camp lessons. This program creates a robust learning ecosystem, in which interns are learning and growing as educators while also teaching and providing an engaging environment for summer camp students.
Phase I is a four-week training period that includes observational teaching under the Intern supervisor, Education manager, and degreed staff teachers. During phase II, interns are assigned science-based STEM lessons to teach with support and feedback from Arboretum teachers. Phase III covers the final four weeks of camps, during which interns are responsible for leading all of the camp lessons. They also prepare a review of what they learned – the 2017 class made this video.
The 2017 Education Summer Interns
This past summer, over 100 college students submitted resumes, 20 were interviewed, and six were chosen for the internship. They formed a cohesive group and brought fresh perspectives and new ideas on STEM instruction. They finished their internships in August, and now we’re checking back in with them, three months later.
What Did Your Summer Education Internship at the Dallas Arboretum Mean for You?
Uriel Diaz, University of Texas at Dallas
It was a pivotal time for me, because it occurred in the months leading up to my Clinical Teaching. I am a History major at the University of Texas at Dallas. My aim with this internship was to gain an interdisciplinary understanding of working with children in a science-based curriculum. Texas standards now want teachers to relate content to other disciplines. I could not have asked for a better place to experience just that.
In addition, I learned how to work with children that were younger than I am accustomed to. Working to break down pieces of information and directions for these students improved my communications skills. I’ve put this to work with the at-risk children that I now work with as a Clinical Teacher.
Maria Mulero, University of Houston
The internship was one of the highlights of my summer! The education department is a close-knit community and genuinely cared for us. I was able to do what I have a passion for, teaching, especially teaching children in STEM! I was often encouraged and provided with resources and advice that I’ll keep using into the future.
I will be graduating this Spring 2018 with a degree in Mathematics at the University of Houston. I am grateful for the opportunity to intern at the Dallas Arboretum because it has made me more prepared for my final step next semester, which is student teaching!
Kirti Murali, University of Texas at Austin
It was an amazing three months of teaching and connecting with kids of different ages and personalities. I learned a lot about education, and the skills I gained will definitely help me down the road. As a premed student who wants to go into pediatrics, this was invaluable hands on experience. I also liked that I was able to bring in my own knowledge to teach kids about how interesting science is.
I enjoyed developing friendships with the other interns and employees. There were so many great teachers that supported us every step of the way, and it was amazing to see how much my teaching skills improved over the summer. It also didn’t hurt getting to work in such a beautiful place every day. I was constantly learning about new plants and animals alongside the children. Nothing beats walking around an arboretum every day, teaching children about science and nature!
Adam Hellinghausen, University of Notre Dame
At the beginning of the summer, I couldn’t have considered working with children as a profession. However, this quick introduction into the world of education of younger kids gave me some of the best (and weirdest) experiences I’ve ever had. As a mechanical engineering student, I have noticed an improvement in my technical writing and communication, which I know is due in large part to my work at the Dallas Arboretum this summer. As happy as I am to be back working in an environment with college-aged engineers, this internship made me appreciate people with different perspectives than mine.
I recently began pitching an app that a friend and I plan to develop, which would help college students communicate and collaborate more easily and effectively. While I don’t see myself becoming a teacher anytime soon, I’m hoping to work to give some good back to the world, and help kids like the ones I taught just a few months ago.
Elena Fernandez, Mountain View College
I learned many new techniques from the Lead Teachers in the summer camps. As a future educator, I will take these methods with me into my own classroom. One of the great advantages of teaching at the Arboretum is that campers can observe up-close the plants and animals they are studying.
I also made friendships along the way with the rest of the interns. My major is Early Childhood Education Bilingual; currently, I am at Mountain View College, and while I work to transfer to a university, I am a teacher assistant at an elementary school.
Mikaela Johnson, Duke University
My summer internship at the Dallas Arboretum was an experience I’ll cherish for a long time. I was (and still am!) unsure with what I want to do with my life, but the skills I refined this summer will serve in most careers I’m considering. For example, I learned patience from a student who insisted that I help her out in the bathroom. I had to instruct her how to wash her hands from the door. I learned how to adapt when the rainy weather dictated camp stay inside, and twenty-five first graders were itching to play tag.
More than anything, I learned how to appreciate the unique learning style and personality of each child. This made it apparent that teachers are incredibly valuable in guiding a group of students, all with their own experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds, in a similar direction. I enjoyed my summer internship experience so much that this semester when I returned to Duke University, I added an additional major, psychology.
My internship never felt like work. I woke up every morning thrilled by the prospect of what the day entailed, and excited for the inevitable- the invaluable moments with campers that words can never truly capture.