I can’t believe it’s June 20th already! In the beginning I was so good about keeping a blog, but as internships ramped up, the blogging slowed down.
I have been at the zoo consistently since my last post, pretty regularly Monday-Friday, with Wednesdays reserved to visit my local hotels for the marketing internship. The rest of the time has been spent auditing the narrations in the park for my capstone. I’ve been able to hit most all of them three times each (there’s around 22 of them ranging from 5 min. long to 25 min. long).
This auditing was “phase 1” of my capstone and was definitely the most time-consuming. Starting last week, I met with my supervisor for the capstone here at the zoo and we discussed taking on the manatee talk as my specific project to work on. Because of that, I am now in the initial stages of assessing the effectiveness of the manatee talk to communicate proper conservation messaging. I am currently asking visitors open-ended questions about manatees such as: “What is the first word that comes to mind when I say the word “manatee”?” and “What are some things you can do in your daily life that can help manatees?” to get a baseline of what the guests already know and feel about manatees. Then from there, we will do another visitor assessment about behaviors people already do/will do/won’t do (recycling, turning of lights, reusing items, etc.) All of this information will be considered as a new draft of a manatee chat narration is made. Ideally, I would be a part of this entire process seeing it out until the new narration is implemented. However, due to the length of my internship that simply won’t happen. Not to mention, I am very happy to report that I have been offered a full-time position in the education department at the zoo!! So, the amount of time I have to dedicate to the rest of the narration reworking will definitely be shortened, but for good reason! Luckily, my supervisor does work closely with the education department (and the education department is the one that gives this narration) so hopefully I will actually be able to still work on this project, around upcoming trainings!
On a bit of a side-note, here: I attended the National Association for Interpreter’s Certified Interpretive Guide training last week and it was fantastic. Assuming I passed the written test, I am soon to be a certified interpretive guide! At this training, I was able to present an example of a manatee talk I think would be suitable for the zoo, tying it into my capstone project. I learned a great deal and truly think it has already helped. I gave a tour on Sunday that I have given plenty of times before (at my old job- I was filling in this time!) and it was honestly the best one I have given. I’m so glad I did this training and recommend it for anyone who works in a field where you have to interact with the public: parks, museums, zoos, aquariums, etc. There’s also one called Certified Interpretive Host which is a little less intensive but just as valuable for those who perhaps work in hotels and other customer-service related fields that aren’t necessarily “teaching” the public.
Alright, I think that’s what I’ve got for this week. I’ll keep you posted as I go through orientation on Saturday! In the meantime, here are some pictures from my “secret shopping” in the park listening to the narrations: