Just getting started…

My name is Susan Snyder, and I will be working with the Franklin Park Conservatory this summer as a summer fellow. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this opportunity; it sounded exciting, but was also very different from anything I had done before. As a social work student, I have been involved with numerous non-profit organizations. Although each past experience has been valuable in a different way, none have ever presented me with the opportunity to work full-time on my own projects and assignments. By funding the summer fellowship program, the Columbus Foundation has really done something special for both the Columbus community and students alike. This program has not only allowed students to gain valuable work experience in the non-profit sector, but has also allowed non-profit organizations to get the much-needed help they may not have otherwise had. I would be lying if I said that the prospect of this newfound responsibility was not a little frightening, but along with this uncertainty came a feeling of exhilaration and excitement.

My official title at the Franklin Park Conservatory is “Education Intern”, although I seem to be doing a bit of everything. Prior to my start here, I had never really thought of the Conservatory as a non-profit organization. I always thought of the Conservatory as more of a venue or an attraction, especially since my sister had gotten married here. As I came to find out, the Conservatory actually offers a wide range of services and programs for the public, along with serving as a center for community growth. Everything from cooking classes to summer camps can be found here; you can even rent your own plot for gardening! The Conservatory is located inside the Franklin Park, which is an 88-acre plot of land that is open to the public on a daily basis. Although entrance to the main building requires a small fee, most of the outdoor gardens and attractions are free. Some of my main responsibilities include co-leading and assisting in several week-long camps, putting together events for the upcoming Hungry Planet exhibition in the fall, conducting facility tours, and working with other organizations in the community to develop nutrition and wellness curriculum.

My first two weeks at the Conservatory consisted mainly of camp assisting, which has allowed me to get acquainted with both the Conservatory staff and campus. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming, and I already feel like I have worked here for years. Working in the camps has been really refreshing, and has made me realize that many of us do not spend enough time outside. It has become incredibly easy to get caught up in the technological tidal wave that has swept over today’s society, and it is not often that you see people enjoying their natural surroundings. All of the camps offered at the Conservatory are nature-based, focus on active living,  and explore the bugs, plants, flowers, and wildlife that resides alongside us humans in the Columbus community. Another focus of the camps is recycling, which is of utmost importance given the rapid depletion of natural resources in recent years. Encouraging youth to develop an interest in these things from an early age not only positively reinforces healthy living, but contributes to the overall wellbeing of the enviroment and the community.

Preparing our walking sticks for hiking

Not only are these camps educational for the kids, but they present valuable topics in a fun and active way. It is easy to tell someone about something and have them hear you, but it is not as easy to actually get them to be interested in what is being said. By offering hands-on activities and creative freedom, the kids get an experience that they truly enjoy. Of course, there is always a little room to be silly…

Making our best fishy faces before exploring the lower lake!

Overall, I would consider my experience thus far as extremely positive. I have never been one that favored spending the entire day sitting at a desk, and this job seems to offer the opportunity to do something different every day. I look forward to beginning my side projects, along with continuing my involvement in the summer camps.

On a side note: If you ever looking for something to do on the weekends or in the evening time with your kids, significant other, or friends, you should really check out some of the cooking classes Franklin Park Conservatory offers! Times, dates, and registration information can be found here.

Thanks for reading!

Susan Snyder, Franklin Park Conservatory

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