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Interview with Sarah Noyes, Ocean Education Intern, National Museum of Natural History, Summer 2019 | Siobhan Finnerty

Welcome to the seventh installment of Geography "In the Real World"-- where we showcase the accomplishment of GWU's Geography, Environmental Studies, and GIS students as they take their geographic education into real world work/study/research experiences! Today, we interviewed senior Environmental Studies major Sarah Noyes, who interned with the Smithsonian Institute at the National Museum of Natural History over the summer of 2019.

What position did you hold this summer and how did it relate to your Environmental Studies major?

This summer I was an Ocean Education Intern at the National Museum of Natural History. Within my Environmental Studies major, I try to take as many biology and marine-focused classes as I can. A lot of the concepts that are taught at the museum also have to do with human’s relationship with the environment and how we effect it; which is also focused on in a lot of Environmental Studies course work.

What were your responsibilities during the internship?

As an Ocean Education Intern my main responsibility was to create an interactive volunteer facilitated cart that would compliment the coral reef section of the ocean hall. The goal of my cart is to teach visitors about coral anatomy and coral bleaching through the use of a 3D coral polyp model that I designed.

Along with developing the coral cart, I helped write and implement lesson plans for camp groups and family programs. I would also assist with special programing happening in the ocean hall such as live video feeds to research vessels and special activities featuring  real scientists. One of the most important skills I learned during this internship was how to effectively communicate scientific concepts to a wide variety of non-scientific audiences!

How did your previous education and experience at GW (especially within the department) prepare you for this opportunity?

My freshmen year at GW I took a “Society and the Environment” course which really got me more interested in people’s relationship with nature, and also environmental education.

What was your favorite experience from the internship?

My favorite part about interning at the National Museum of Natural History, was getting to learn more about the museum “behind the scenes”. As an intern, we were able to get free tours of special collections and departments every week! It was a great way to learn more about other departments, and connect with some really cool people.

Have you completed a geography-oriented internship? Job? Study abroad? Ad-hoc field work? Independent research? Let us know! We are interviewing current (and past) GW Geography students who have taken their geography knowledge into the “real world.” If you are interested in sharing your experience, please send an e-mail to

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