Students to assist teaching zoo summer camps
PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Three University of Wisconsin-Platteville students always dreamed they would have an opportunity to share their love of animals and the environment with others. Now, thanks to an internship opportunity at Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) Zoo this summer, all three students will have the chance to do so.
The elementary education majors will assist in teaching zoo summer camps through education internships at the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s Karen Peck Katz Conservation Education Center at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Each year, the Zoological Society hires 20 college interns to assist with summer camps and has hired interns for education for more than 25 years.
Students participating in the internship include Paula Pittz, a junior middle childhood/early adolescence education major from Mineral Point, Wisconsin; Taylor Sueflohn, a sophomore elementary education major from Dousman, Wisconsin; and Jaclyn Turney, a senior elementary education major from Ixonia, Wisconsin.
According to the Milwaukee County Zoo’s website, the Zoological Society of Milwaukee brings exceptional animal, environmental and science-based educational opportunities to children, adults and families throughout the year. The programs help people of all ages develop an understanding of wildlife and some of the environmental challenges the earth faces.
From May 31-Aug. 14, Pittz, Sueflohn and Turney will educate children about science, animals and conservation as well as lead zoo tours, evaluate and supervise high school assistants and prepare classroom materials. They will teach small group activities as well as work with children a variety of ages, from 2-14. They will learn classroom management techniques and have the opportunity to work alongside and learn from a variety of teachers.
“The UW-Platteville students will gain authentic experience teaching children and families that visit the Milwaukee County Zoo,” Dr. Lindsay Hollingsworth, assistant professor of education at UW-Platteville and Pittz’s advisor, said. “This is an exciting opportunity to engage the community at one of Wisconsin’s premier attractions.”
Pittz, Sueflohn and Turney competed with 45 other college students for just 15 first-year education intern positions and were hired in March.
“This is a highly competitive internship,” MaryLynn Conter Strack, enrichment program coordinator of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, said. “We received approximately 100 resumes from colleges around the state. Of those, we received eight resumes from UW-Platteville students and we hired three for summer 2017. That speaks not only of the quality of students that UW-Platteville is producing, but also that the university cares about making their students aware of opportunities available.”
“When I heard that I had been selected for the internship, I was beyond excited because it seemed like such a great learning experience for me as a future educator,” Pittz said. “I am really looking forward to working in such a unique environment and learning from my team members that come from all different backgrounds. This internship not only will give me experience teaching and managing children on a daily basis, but it also will allow for constant evaluation and reflection so I can always improve and grow professionally.”
Sueflohn thought the internship would be a great opportunity to expand her knowledge in her field and work with children.
“I was really nervous about getting the internship, but when I found out I had gotten it, I was ecstatic,” she said. “I am looking forward to working with kids and learning more about the field that I am going into and techniques that I can use one day in my classroom. This experience will help prepare me for my future career as a teacher because I will learn a lot about classroom management, work with other employees and be out in the field experiencing things.”
When the internship was offered to Turney, it meant everything to her.
“When they said they would like to offer me a position as an intern, I felt relieved, excited and emotional all at the same time,” Turney said. “I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for so long. I’m a lover of animals as well as educating children, so this internship is a dream come true. I’m excited to lead the children around the zoo on tours and inform them about the animals. I can’t wait to share my enthusiasm with them in hopes that they leave each day learning something new and have more love and compassion for animals than they did the day before.”
Turney said the internship will allow her to get out of her comfort zone and further her knowledge about different ages of children. She also said it will prepare her for becoming a student teacher, as the opportunity will give her a professional outlook, hands on experience and a better understanding of what it is like in the classroom. Turney was thankful for her parents’ support during the past year, specifically during the interview process.
“They believed in me and believed I could do it,” she said. “They never gave up on me.”
Sueflohn is advised by Erin Edgington, assistant professor of education and STEM coordinator at UW-Platteville. Turney is advised by Dr. Wonim Son, assistant professor of education at UW-Platteville.
Written by: Laurie A. Hamer, Communications Specialist, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191, firstname.lastname@example.org