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ES Student Profile
Lindsey Williams '02
New England Aquarium
New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium is a non-profit organization in Boston, Massachusetts. The mission statement for the Aquarium is to "Present, Promote and Protect the world of water." This mission is addressed through education, exhibits, research and conservation efforts. The goal of the Aquarium is to increase public awareness of the ocean and the ecosystems that rely on it. The hope is that increased awareness will foster a greater sense of stewardship and a desire to protect every facet of our environment.
The New England Aquarium first opened in June of 1969 and now has upwards of 1.3 million visitors each year. In 1993 it became the first aquarium with a department devoted specifically to conservation efforts. The Aquarium has research stations all around the world working to better understand and to help conserve the world of water.
With the help of the Mellon Environmental Studies grant I was able work in the Education department as the New England Habitat/ Marine Mammals intern this past summer. My responsibilities included giving prepared talks, interpreting at exhibits, training and mentoring high school interns, and working on various projects such as revising and updating training manuals.
Much of my time towards the beginning of the summer was spent interacting with visitors throughout the Aquarium. I was there to answer visitors' questions, but more importantly to approach visitors and help raise awareness of issues that they might not even know about. In some cases I would talk to visitors about conservation issues, other times about popular misconceptions about the animals. Towards the middle of the summer the college interns worked together to help train and act as role models for teenage interns working at the Aquarium for the summer.
Each intern at the Aquarium must complete an individual project during the summer as well. For some interns in the Education department this meant working on displays or creating special educational activities. I spent the end of the summer revising and updating part of the volunteer manual for future training classes. We all also worked on smaller projects throughout the summer to keep the education department well informed about various current issues.
The Aquarium uses education as a key factor in increasing awareness about the environment. The goal is that every visitor to the Aquarium will have an interaction with a member of the education staff. This seems like a daunting task, but volunteer staff performs much of the visitor education. Education is an essential part of the Aquarium since this is where there is the greatest potential to reach visitors. The goal of the Aquarium is not to simply display animals, but to use exhibits to teach visitors about aquatic ecosystems and why they are important.
There are numerous opportunities for internships at the New England Aquarium. Interns are part of the volunteer staff, which includes approximately 650 people throughout the Aquarium. There are internships in animal husbandry, vet services, research, education and conservation just to name a few.
This past summer was a great opportunity for me to experience a potential career as well as life in a city. The interactions and experiences that I had this summer have made me realize how important well-run aquariums are in the effort to protect our oceans.
The New England Aquarium Website: www.neaq.org
Information about intern opportunities: http://www.neaq.org/corner/vol/index.html