By Delaney Caslow a Fourth-year Wildlife Student
This past summer I had the opportunity to work at the Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC) for the second year in a row. The nature center is a 127-acre property on the Chattahoochee River in Roswell, Georgia. On their grounds they house many non-releasable native wildlife species, trails, ponds, a discovery center, butterfly tent, and much more. My position at CNC was a Butterfly Encounter Attendant (BEA) as well as a Visitor Services Associate. As a BEA I was responsible for educating the public about butterflies as well as ecology relating to pollinators, taking care of the butterflies, and ensuring that the public had a safe and informative visit. This year I was also given some additional tasks such as creating fact sheets and educational games. This past summer looked a lot different from the previous one because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but luckily (since we were mostly outside) we were able to safely open up the center to visitors.
Being able to (safely) interact with the public during the pandemic was quite interesting because I got to see firsthand the ways that workplaces/organizations were having to adapt. As the summer went on, there were many changes and alterations to make certain that both the staff and visitors felt comfortable. From the beginning, all staff were required to wear masks and they became a requirement for visitors as well about halfway through the summer. Time slots were created in which people had to sign up in advance and only a certain amount of people were allowed in every hour. The year prior we had about 1,500 people visit in one day for a festival, so changing to only 20 people entering per half-hour was quite a difference. Although we missed out on some aspects, this actually allowed for a much more personal and intimate experience that visitors really appreciated.
I learned so much during my two summers at CNC. The staff that I was so lucky to work with were not only extremely friendly and helpful people to engage with, but I was also able to take away many different skillsets and knowledge from them. I learned how to translate scientific concepts to different age groups, get people engaged with nature, and adapt to new and changing situations. Every day was unique and could turn into something different which made it really exciting. A few of the most noteworthy things that happened over my time at CNC were a summer tanager flying into the visitors center, a rat snake attempting to crawl into the butterfly encounter, and getting to watch a wild butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. I cannot thank the Chattahoochee Nature Center enough for giving me two amazing summers as well as teaching me so much about the environment and myself. If you are ever in the Roswell/Atlanta area go check them out!