Category Archives: Internship

Throwback Thursday – History Land

History Land Highway

History Land Highway, a stretch of road which runs along the Northern Neck of Virginia.

Snazzy sign, eh?

Here’s a throwback to Summer 2012, when I was enjoying the summer interning in the Northern Neck of Virginia at the birthplace of Robert E. Lee at Stratford Hall Plantation. What a summer! When I wasn’t discovering the collections of the Georgian-style home – I tried to explore this part of the country. Along the way, I discovered several wineries, plentiful antique stores, a rich food scene, and no shortage of history! When I spotted this sign in my travels –  I couldn’t help but snag a picture. The rural countryside you see in the background is a pretty sharp contrast to the theme park imagery that the name may conjure up!

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Raising the Bar

Happy 2014!

As I look forward to the New Year and all its rich and exciting possibilities, I wanted to take a moment to recognize some major personal professional milestones that 2013 saw and outline some goals for the future. During the last year I….

  • Completed a competitive, yearlong internship

  • Successfully completed and defended my graduate exams 
  • Walked across the graduation stage and earned my Masters Degree

  •  Accepted a position – in a new state 

  •  Moved to said state and passed a probationary period of employment

  • Discovered a charming historic neighborhood we call “home,” for now  

While I continue to grow in my new position, and we continue to explore this new geographical region, I am going to make an effort to be more mindful of blogging and attempt a greater frequency of posts. Easier said than done, correct?

Another goal I am keen to pursue is to volunteer more. While living in Springfield I enjoyed volunteering with the arts association and public library, but now that I’m in a new town – it is time to expand my horizons. While I enjoy volunteering in my field – I consider this a great way to give back to a community AND grow, I am eager to volunteer in fields unrelated to my own.

One organization that I grew to really appreciate and respect last year is Optimist International. A volunteer with the ISM was highly involved with the Optimists, and I was able to present on behalf of the museum to this organization in July 2013. The mission of Optimist International is “By providing hope and positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in kids.” For more information, check out their website. While attending the organization’s meeting in July, I was struck by the positive attitude of its members and their dedication.  I look forward to exploring local branches of this organization, and seeking out similar volunteer opportunities. 

In addition to blogging and volunteering, I am also eager to travel. Through work I’ve been able to explore some of the immediate region through educational outreach. Beyond this though, I am eager for day-trips full of photography, winding roads, towns big and small, and seeing what exactly is unique to the so-called “Mid-South.” A few posts ago I made a list of cultural and historic sites of interest. I look forward to adding to this list.  

So, reader. What sort of organizations do you volunteer with? Any recommendations? Also – any adventurous tips for this Yankee? I look forward to pushing myself personally and professionally during this next year – to explore this new position and all the regional possibilities this area may offer.  

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Snapshots of a Symposium

Below is just a glance at the 36th Annual Historical Administration Program Association Symposium which was held this weekend at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL. It was a wonderful chance to stay current in the field, learn new resources and study trends, connect with classmates and meet alumni! More on this conference later, but here’s a look to wet your appetite. . . 


There were multiple conferences being held this weekend, so signs across campus helped direct out of town visitors. 


Half of the 36th Annual Historical Administration Program Association Symposium was held at the MLK Jr. Union at Eastern Illinois University. Flowers AND trees were in bloom – no snow!


Symposium Swag! One of the included goodies at the symposium was a mini tape measure sporting this year’s logo, “Keep Calm and get the Disaster Plan.”


The Symposium featured a variety of speakers and mini workshops, including a session held at the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site. The day was very insightful and a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with HA alumni and meet new and returning students.


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Celebrate with a Koala!

Check out this studious koala.


What Does a Koala Bear Need? (1976)
By Jane Belk Moncure
Illustrated by Helen Endres

I spotted this 1970s children’s picture book while volunteering with our local library’s Youth Services Department a few weeks ago. The book compares the needs of a baby koala with those of a human child – so it gets a bit strange at points. But the pictures of the koala are cute. (Can you tell I love koalas?)

This seems a perfect way to announce it – yes, it’s official – I passed my graduate exams yesterday!

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A Career in Museums?

As a child I envied my peers who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. You know the type – Firefighter. Teacher. Doctor. Nurse. Mime. I remember thinking, I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. 

Since then I have discovered that I love working in museums. I enjoy engaging visitors and making museum collections accessible. Every day something new is going on – a new program to design, a new project to research, a new volunteer to train – I don’t remember the last time I was ever bored!

Recently I had the opportunity to help represent the field of museums at a high school career fair. Eager students flooded a gym set up with about fifty different exhibitors, with career fields ranging from dance to pharmacy to funeral home management and beyond. There was a wonderful turnout by both local organizations and interested students. It was great to talk with students about what they were interested in studying at college and potentially pursuing as a career.The day was energizing a number of ways. Often students asked what they could do to prepare themselves for potentially working in the field. Our answer? Visit museums. Volunteer. Intern, etc. Exploring a career in museums comes with its share of challenges – as does any number of professions these days. As an emerging professional almost done with graduate school, talking with these high school students was refreshing and reminded me of when I first began considering a career path in the museum world! Their ideas and curiosity about the field made the morning and afternoon fly.

When did you first start to consider your career? Are you pursuing what you thought you wanted to be “when you grow up?”

ISM represented the field of museums at a high school career fair. We had the subcategory of "archeology" as well - although this is just one aspect of the expertise on staff!

ISM represented the field of museums at a high school career fair. We had the subcategory of “archaeology” as well – although this is just one aspect of the expertise on staff!

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Visitors Count!

DIANE: It’s so refreshing to go to a museum with someone who doesn’t slide across the marble floors in their stocking feet.
SAM: Hey, those paintings look a lot better if you go by fast.

(Cheers, Season 3, Episode 9, “An American Family.”)

A museum visit – as highlighted through this Cheers quotation – can differ dramatically depending on the visitor. In an effort to better understand what makes (or breaks) a museum experience, visitor studies help institutions and organizations better meet the needs of current and future museum audiences.

As an intern, I am excited to be on board while our institution works with the American Association for State and Local History in the new Visitors Count! program. This program partners AASLH with the Center for Nonprofit Management of Nashville, and facilitates surveys, analysis, and benchmark results against other organizations in the field. As part of the Education Section, so far I have assisted with survey question feedback. I look forward to learning more about the program and about audience research in general as our work continues.

What really impresses you as a museum guest – or professional – when you visit other institutions? As a museum visitor, is there one thing you would change about your average museum experience? More gallery seating? A free coat check? All ideas welcome!

Read more about Visitors Count!

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