We are living in a time of drastic changes, uncertain futures, and confounding boundaries. The pandemic shook our core values by keeping everyone physically separated. Here at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, educators had to think outside-the-box for ways to keep staff connected and our audiences engaged. Creating virtual programs was no small feat, but a special group of young people embraced the changes.
A handful of museum educators with responsibility for summer camp programs pressed onward with a group of returning teen volunteers, including some who have been volunteering with CMNH for a several years. Creating virtual programs was no small feat as Online Museum sessions replaced in person camps. Our teens embraced the changes and helped participants feel comfortable in this new normal by providing positive energy and continual encouragement. As part of their transformation from classroom helpers to virtual instruction assistants, several teen volunteers developed insightful, natural history-related literature in the form of blog posts. The Museum is proud to introduce these keyboard warriors, our very first cohort of teenage volunteer bloggers. You may have already read some of these blogs, and there are more to come! Meet just a few of these promising young writers:
Claire Ianachione: Hi, my name is Claire Ianachione, and I am excited to be writing blogs for the museum. I love learning new things about history and sharing them with other people. I cannot wait to start sharing blogs and I hope people enjoy reading them.
Samhita Vasudevan: My name is Samhita Vasudevan, and I’m super excited to write blogs for the museum! In my free time, I enjoy baking, going on runs, listening to music, and watching movies. My favorite exhibits at the museum are the Hillman Hall of Minerals & Gems and the Art of the Diorama.
Caroline Lee: My name is Caroline Lee and I’ve been involved with Powdermill since I was 10. When I heard of this great opportunity to write blogs for the museum, I was very excited to start because while I love PNR and Carnegie Museums, I also love writing! In my free time I am a musician in my school marching band, and a member of the “Science Matters” club!
Niko Borish: A longtime admirer of natural science, I attended summer camp at Powdermill Nature Reserve several times before becoming a volunteer there. Though primarily interested in herpetofauna, I enjoy investigating all aspects of the natural world whenever I can. Currently a junior in high school, I plan to study environmental science in college.
Angela Wu: Most of my passions can be summarized by “I love to create.” I’m interested in software development and its many applications in a variety of fields, but I also create writings, drawings, paintings, and music (albeit not very well). In my spare time, I enjoy reading, writing, and eating Ramen.
Xavier Ramirez: I am a sophomore in high school. I enjoy acting, music, and STEM. Currently, I keep myself busy with writing and long games of Risk.
Teen volunteers are an integral part of making summer camp a meaningful experience for campers. While 2020 brought about some difficult challenges that radically changed the summer camp experience, we want to extend a big thank you to all of our teen volunteers who helped the program!
Sara Klingensmith is an Environmental Educator & Naturalist at Powdermill Nature Reserve and Brandon Lyle is a Museum Educator at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Museum employees are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences and knowledge gained from working at the museum.