Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Laurel Hanson - Wildlands School and Beaver Creek

Name: Laurel Hanson
Major & Minor: Comprehensive International Geography
UWEC Standing and Expected Graduation Date: Senior-Graduate 12/2013
Interests and Hobbies: Travelling, cooking, music, scrapbooking, four-wheeling, ice fishing, shopping

Internship Employer: Wildlands School & Beaver Creek
Length of Employment: September 2012-Present

Basics : Was your internship paid or unpaid? Did you register for credits? Why or Why not? Did you create the internship or was it advertised? Where did you hear about it?

This internship was paid and I will also receive 2 credits for Geography 498-Community Internship.  Beaver Creek applied for funding from the Internship Office at UW-Eau Claire.  Once the funding was approved, the Internship Office provided Beaver Creek with the funds that was then used for my intern position at Beaver Creek and Wildlands School.

This internship was created.  I am very interested in working with K-12 students in GIS, but wasn’t aware of any outlets to do so.  I spoke with Martin Goettl over the summer of 2012 about my interest and he was interested in working with K-12 students as well.
Martin was contacted by Paul Tweed, the lead teacher at Wildlands School a charter school located on the Beaver Creek Reserve.  Paul was looking for college students to help with a mapping project in conjunction with Beaver Creek Reserve.  Martin and I worked with Paul Tweed and Beaver Creek Reserve to create a platform for this collaboration.  An internship was then created for my position.

What were your specific job responsibilities?

For my position, I act as the “project manager” for the Wildlands student’s mapping project.  Because the students do not have an expansive knowledge of GIS, I am responsible for providing the students with basic knowledge of GIS and data collection techniques as well as map creation.

The first objective for my internship was to work with the students to develop a data collection plan.  Many features needed to be collected in order to create the maps such as trails, information posts and buildings.  We created an outline and prioritized every necessary feature.

The second objective was to help the students develop a geodatabase that would be timeless and easily managed by the students.  The geodatabase included numerous domains so students would be able to accurately retain feature information.
After the first two objective were completed, we were able to go out into the field (Beaver Creek Reserve) and collect the data.  ArcPad and Trimble Juneau GPS units were used for data collection.  UW-Eau Claire Geography students accompanied the Wildlands students in the collection process.  The data was imported to the pre-created geodatabase.

The final objective is the creation of physical maps for Beaver Creek Reserve.  Students use the collected data to create a campus map, trail map and property boundary map.  These maps will be used for Beaver Creek to apply for grants as well as distribution to the public.  With Martin’s help, I am able to provide the students with resources for ArcGIS products, Trimble Juneau GPS units as well as the basics of GIS and geodatabase functions.

What do you think gave you to edge to get the internship?

I think the “edge” that got me this internship was informing Martin Goettl of my interest in working with K-12 students.  It was difficult for me to find an outlet on my own, and when this opportunity arose, Martin and I were able to work together to create the collaboration.

Was it a valuable experience?

This has been one of the most valuable and rewarding experiences I have ever had.  Teaching is on the best ways to learn, and I have learned so much by preparing for the students.  It is rewarding to be able to provide resources that might not otherwise be available to students and to see them really enjoy working in GIS.  I have also been connected to a wide range of people that will help me in future job prospects.

How did the logistics work for you? Did you have to move?

I did not have to move for this internship.  Wildlands School uses project based curriculum which worked very well in the management of schedules.  The students’ schedules are very flexible, so I am able to go to the school once a week to work with the students.

What advice can you give to those who are looking for an internship?

If you are having a hard time finding an internship, start networking and you may be able to create an internship.  Sometimes you can even get paid for a created position.  Also, don’t focus too much attention on whether the internship is something you want to do.  It is important to get your foot in the door and you may have to do tedious work at first, but having experience will give you the edge in the future.

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