Making Nature Sociological: Sydni Wilson's Internship with the Blue Ridge Parkway

All sociology majors who pursue a Bachelor's of Science degree must complete an internship experience. These internships often focus on occupations that relate to a student's concentration areas such as "Criminology, Deviance, and Law." Students also pick internships in which they can strengthen the sociology skills of critical thinking, research methods, and data analysis, as well as expand on their people skills of being an effective communicator and co-worker.

For Sydni Wilson, her concentration was in "Families and Intimate Relationships" but she wanted to do something that was unique and different from the usual internships that focused using on parenting, working in social services, or domestic violence. Luckily, Sydni found a great internship that worked with the National Park Service of the United States. Through App State's partnership with the Blue Ridge Parkway, Sydni spent six weeks with local Park Rangers, officials, and tourists developing various programs and promotion materials to assist the Parkway in attracting a diverse set of visitors. Sydni spoke with a number of Park officials and visitors to see what could best work in attracting them to come to the Parkway. As her site supervisor Tina White stated, Sydni brought several new prospectives to the table about how to get folks interested in the Parkway. For example, Sydni spent some time researching and creating video materials for individuals that are disabled who want to use the various trails and facilities on the Parkway. 

One of the more significant projects Sydni completed for the Parkway was creating promotion materials for the Junior Ranger Program. Using her skills she obtained working with Dr. Beth Davison, she created a short Youtube video introducing the the program to parents and kids. She also helped put together specific materials for this program for the Parkway. Check out the video here: How to Become a Junior Ranger on the Blue Ridge Parkway. These materials will now be used by the Blue Ridge Parkway for the next few years!

Now that Sydni has completed her internship, she believes that this was a great experience. Moreover, she saw how sociology can be used in various occupations often not directly related to the discipline. Her site supervisor even stated that it was nice to have a student who wasn't a biologist, botanist, or natural scientist because the Parkway needed assistance in focusing on the human element, which is one of the primary reasons for the Blue Ridge Parkway's existence; to share the plants, animals, and beauty of the Parkway with people.

If you want to learn about internships, then follow this link to the Sociology Department's internship requirements and suggestions: Sociology Internships.   

Sydni Wilson
Published: Aug 10, 2015 9:50am