Xylia Serafy, 2015
Environmental Studies and Spanish Double Major
Southfork Natural History Museum
and Nature Center
Long Island, NY
Summer 2013, paid
Junior Environmental Studies and Spanish double major Xylia Serafy previously interned at the Southfork Natural History Museum and Nature Center in Long Island, New York. This is an interactive nature museum that features wildlife and habitats native to Long Island, which is an extremely diverse ecological area and contains seven different natural habitats. During this paid internship, Xylia worked 9-5 Monday through Fridays, as well as the occasional Saturday Weekend program, during the summer. As an intern, Serafy would typically arrive at the museum one hour before it opened and assist with cleaning and preparing the floor and animal exhibits, specifically the seahorses and baby frogs and toads. She would also water the native wildflower garden and weed the butterfly garden to prepare the exhibits for visitors of all ages. Once the museum opened, Xylia acted as a floor educator, giving tours to adults and children. .“We want to teach adults and children how to interact with nature and show them how diverse and interesting the nature around them is.” Xylia also utilized her Spanish major during her internship, and spent part of her time translating the museum’s program from English to Spanish. At the end of the summer Serafy also ran a marine science camp with two of the museum’s directors, giving tours of the salt marshes and doing different experiments with children ranging from ages six to twelve.
During this internship, Xylia interacted with children and adults with varying previous knowledge of Long Island’s habitats and had to diversify her tours so that they were appropriate for various age groups and knowledge basis. This required a lot of creativity, drawing from her professors’ teaching strategies, as well as adding her own techniques.
Serafy was given the opportunity to meet the Southfork Natural History Museum’s Board of Trustees, as well as work extensively with the two weekend program directors. During these weekend programs, she also met local high school teachers and owners of different touring areas.
“I originally wanted to be a teacher, but I’m really interested in marine conservation and rescue. Working at the museum showed me that this is what I want to pursue as a profession after college. I now have some of the tools and experience to show people the beauty of nature and foster curiosity in individuals of different ages. And I can always teach at some point later in life.”
“Going out of your comfort zone can be scary, but it’s awesome and worth it,” Serafy stated. “Internships are different than a normal job; they really build character and prepare you for what life will be like in the next few years.” She also encourages anyone who is considering an internship to participate in the programs. “You learn a lot about yourself, and what’s the worst that could happen?”