University of Vermont

EHCO Lake Aquarium and Science Center E-Team, Burlington, VT

In case you haven’t heard, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center is an amazing place to work if you’re interested in environmental science and education. When I began looking for environmental education internships last fall, the E-Team internship at ECHO jumped out at me as my number one pick.

The E-Team at ECHO is their teen leadership program, which gives teenagers from the Burlington area interested in environmental science the chance to learn essential job skills like professional manners of communication and teamwork while working in a setting that is highly interesting to them. In my role as their intern, I served as a mentor to the E-teamers, running meetings, coordinating field trips for them, and helping them improve in areas such as public speaking that are necessary to be an effective educator for the visitors to ECHO. The field trips that my E-team went on included a UVM tour, an afternoon of working at the Intervale, canoeing in Burlington Bay, and sailing with the Community Sailing Center. In the works for next fall’s new E-Team is the UVM Ropes Course. The E-Team is also in charge of running monthly Community Science Nights, which provide invitees with a free dinner and admission to ECHO in an effort to draw in members of the community that cannot afford admission.

In my role as the E-Team intern, I was able to learn a ton and build on previous experiences working with teens in environmental education in an entirely new setting. I had never worked in a formal office before, but ECHO was a great place to start. The staff is extremely collaborative, so I was able to be part of a well-functioning team of experienced educators. I learned a lot very quickly about interpretation for visitors of the educational material presented in ECHO’s exhibits and demonstrations. The E-Team structure was also new to me, as weekly meetings and weekend shifts in ECHO were the only time I had with them. The diverse group of teens in the program gave me opportunities to connect with them in many different ways, from talking about colleges to family and friend news and problems, to what they love about the environment and why they chose such an unusual first job as one at ECHO. Each student differed in their interests and needs but all are amazing kids that gave me a chance to be a mentor, friend, and teacher to them.

If you are thinking of applying for the ECHO E-Team internship, I strongly encourage you to do so. This position is a huge opportunity to work alongside some excellent educators and learn to take charge and lead a program in a direction that matches the mission of the organization. If you can revel in the idiosyncrasies of teenagers, love to learn on your feet in an exciting setting, and want to further the mission of a great program that is leading the way in teen leadership development in environmental education, the E-Team internship is for you.