K-State student uses internship experience to educate children on environment

Tuesday Meredith is a senior in park management and conservation. (Sabrina Cline | The Collegian)

Tuesday Meredith, senior in park management and conservation, looks forward to being a camp counselor this summer at the Ernie Miller Nature Center.

From June to August, Meredith will help with education courses for children ages 8 to 10. She will structure her own lesson plans based on the camp’s theme of the week. Such lessons could include kayaking, archery and rope courses.

“I think it is really important for kids to learn about nature at an early age,” Meredith said. “I really want them to learn how to enjoy and appreciate nature so that they can grow up and become stewards of the environment.”

Meredith most recently received her interpreter-guide certification, where she learned practical skills in delivering quality environmental education lessons.

Dayton Allen, senior in park management and conservation and a friend of Meredith’s, said he most enjoyed his methods of interpretation class.

“It was basically an introduction on how to give guides and presentations,” Allen said. “That class really got me out of my comfort zone, which I think is a good thing.”

Meredith plans to become an interpretation park ranger, which will involve giving tours and teaching about the environment.

“It’s really about taking the science that I have had to learn and making it easier for people to understand,” Meredith said. “That is what we call interpreting the environment.”

Meredith has already completed two internships, which is required in her major to graduate. Her favorite internship was in Port Angeles, Washington, at Olympic National Park.

“I assisted with two information programs a day, which varied from 10 minutes up to an hour long,” Meredith said. “I would go on hikes after work, which I found is the best place to find a group of tourists and really talk to them about the environment.”

Meredith said her favorite part about interpreting the environment is not only the opportunity to help improve the environment, but that she also gets to connect with people over something that she is passionate about.

“To be a park ranger, you really have to love nature more than anything else,” Meredith said.

Nathan Fischer, senior in park management and conservation, said his favorite part about what he does is he will always get to work in a beautiful environment.

“I can remember hiking in Colorado as a child and seeing this gorgeous waterfall with a crystal-clear pond beneath it,” Fischer said. “That was really when I decided that I wanted to care for the environment when I grew up.”

Meredith said when people see nature’s beauty at these parks, they are more likely to be environmentally smart.

“It’s like a leverage that we use,” Meredith said. “When tourists compliment the park’s beauty, we tell them that it won’t be like this much longer if they don’t protect the environment, such as recycling.”

Meredith hopes to return to Olympic National Park someday and work as an interpretation park ranger. Eventually, she would like to take a managerial job and become a superintendent of any national park.