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State park internships attract first class college students
If you took a tour out at Enchanted Rock this summer it’s likely you were lead by Texas Parks and Wildlife intern Stephanie Croatt. Did you see graffiti in one of the area’s caves? Odds are you didn’t, Croatt cleaned that off while taking a break from giving flint knapping lessons and creating outlines for guided interpretation park tours. Croatt graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio this spring and took her internship out in Fredericksburg to get practical experience in the Texas parks system.
“I was interested in how state parks curate their natural and human resources for the public,” Croatt said. “I got to see what each park does in terms of strategy for cultural resource management and interpretation at their short and long term goals.”
Croatt says she absolutely loves the internship and felt a sense of satisfaction for her work products. Her tenacity and good-natured work ethic were really appreciated by her supervisors and other park staff.
“Stephanie exhibited an excellent work quality and willingness to take on new tasks,” said Reynaldo Sierra of Enchanted Rock. “Her customer service and people skills made her a great fit for the parks interpretive program. “
While Croatt was helping scouts knap arrowheads at one of her outreach programs, intern Kait Kelm was learning the ropes out at Tyler State Park.
“We sort of baptized her by fire,” said Boyd Sanders, Tyler State Park Interpreter. “Her first weekend was Memorial Day weekend. She got to learn how to clean up a park after a major holiday.”
Kelm graduated from Lindale High School just 10 miles away from the park. She currently studies pre-med at Howard Payne.
While dabbling in all aspects of daily park operations, Kelm took on the familiar intern project of electronically archiving all of the park’s historic documents and photos. She completed the cumbersome project with time to spare, giving park staff a valuable resource for future programs and park preservation.
“We got her involved with just about everything from patrolling with the state park police to working the park store. We kept her busy and were just really proud to have her.”
Up where the West begins in the cross-timbers region at Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway, intern Nicole Little had her video camera in hand. Her passion for creating multimedia content gave the park a technological boost. She beefed up the park’s facebook page, created video material for interpretative programs, developed a creative program on fossils for the local library and even gave the park’s rules and regulations a new spin.
Little is a junior at Hardin-Simmons University. She says she hopes to be a park interpreter or work somewhere in the state park system after graduating. She credits her love for state parks and the outdoors to Girl Scouts. Her troop went camping regularly, and Little says her time involved in scouting helped keep her interest in state parks alive.
To apply for a state parks or other TPWD internship visit the Student Summer Internship Program informational site at http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/jobs/summer_internships/index.phtml. Applications for the summer 2012 program will be available later in the fall semester.
For information on state park volunteering in your community, visit the volunteer opportunities page at: http://tpwd.texas.gov/involved/volunteer/spdest/.
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