by Brandisha Braddy

Thanks to a $61,000 grant from the National Park Service, two University of West Georgia Public History program students have an opportunity to work for the South Florida Collections Management Center (SFCMC) in the Everglades National Park this fall.

A ranger shows an alligator skull to a couple.Director of UWG’s Center for Public History Dr. Ann McCleary said this is the center’s 12th cooperative agreement with the park service.

“Most of our other agreements have focused on the backlog archiving project,” she said. “The park service has a lot of records related to its own history, and there’s a movement now to archive those. Our students have helped with that quite a bit, but this agreement will allow them to get some hands-on experience with collections management.”

Students who participate in the program are given the chance to work with the National Park Service for a minimum of eight months. Students will specifically work with SFCMC, which manages the collections for five separate national parks: Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve and De Soto National Memorial. As a result, the two selected students will have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of artifacts.

“They’ll be working with both cultural resources and natural resources as they help manage the park service’s collections,” McCleary explained

The students will be responsible for completing preventive conservation tasks, cataloging collections, supporting exhibit development, and making the museums more accessible to the public via internet and social media platforms. SFCMC manages more than 7.2 million objects and specimens representative of a wide range of disciplines.

To be qualified for the positions, students must have either a master’s degree in public history from UWG or be close to completing the program.

Cecelia Stephens has already been selected to participate in the program. She graduated from UWG’s history master’s program in December with a concentration in public history, also earning a museum studies certificate.

A group of people standing on a pier“I am working as the outreach technician for SFCMC. This means that I will be working on anything that makes the museum’s collection more accessible to the public,” Stephens said. “One of the main projects I will be working on is conducting exhibitions for the various parks.”

The second position has not yet been filled. However, McCleary says the park service will make its selection soon, and another UWG student will receive a one-of-a-kind experience to start their career.

“The skills they earn working for the park service are so valuable,” she said. “Students have the chance to learn hands-on processing in the park setting, using the software the National Park Service uses. It makes them very marketable when applying for jobs.”

Posted on August 15, 2016