Public history connects people with the past while helping to answer important questions of the future. Beyond the walls of a traditional classroom, public historians work in places like museums, historic sites, archives, and at all levels of government to facilitate public interaction with history.
Rose Gorrell, a graduate student in Colorado State University’s public history program, is using her degree this summer to intern with the National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC).
Located in Fort Collins, the NWRC is a facility within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program that is dedicated to finding solutions to human-wildlife conflicts related to agriculture and property damage, natural resource protection, and human health and safety.
“I am lucky enough to work full time during this internship, so I’m there five days a week,” said Gorrell. “I get to work with people that are incredibly friendly and willing to teach me about the digital side of archiving and information services. It is a huge learning opportunity, plus I’m getting to do something that I enjoy.”
Gorrell’s primary duty is creating interactive ArcGis Story Maps. These digital maps give a brief description of the NWRC’s work – such the importance of wildlife disease surveillance and research – with different graphical representations to keep the findings accessible to the general public. Gorrell is currently designing a data analysis that highlights the research and development being done to facilitate positive human-wildlife interactions
Along with story maps, Gorrell is working on a research poster collection for the NWRC’s digital archives, which houses all the NWRC’s digital documents, research publications, and photos. “The collection is a series of 11 NWRC research posters from 2008 to present. I cataloged the posters and prepared the data attached to them: date, themes, and keywords. My favorite poster is ‘Genetic Approaches to Wildlife Management.'”
Gorrell’s work will be showcased on the NWRC’s website at the end of the internship.
This internship was arranged through a partnership between the Public Lands History Center and the National Wildlife Research Center. Between the convenience of interning in Fort Collins and the internship’s research focus matching Gorrell’s, the experience has been valuable for Gorrell’s future career prospects.
“I will be going into archival work or a museum once I graduate,” said Gorrell. “I enjoy the process of cataloging and processing archival documents. Not only do archives provide a history of the place or organization, but it also creates avenues for education and research.”
The Department of History and the Public Lands History Center are in CSU’s College of Liberal Arts.