Saturday, January 29, 2011

Catching Up...

This past week and a half completely flew by. The day after Traditions, we jumped straight into normal training with the rest of the Conservation Education Presenters. Over the course of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, we absorbed as much information as possible. It was data overload, but we all felt overloaded and loved what we were doing, so we were excited to get started. During the mornings, we typically began in the classroom, talking over topics like different learning styles, the purpose of the different Kids Discovery Clubs (KDC's), and then ventured out into the park, where we walked through several of the KDC's. After lunch, it was generally back into the classroom, where we discussed messaging and how to connect with Guests. Our trainers really tried to keep things enjoyable and exciting. We usually had a few interactive elements added to our training, such as creating our own presentation, attempting to engage fellow presenters with the three conversation elements we had been learning about: the hook, meat, and message. Sometimes the afternoons became somewhat long, but exciting nonetheless.

On Saturday, while everyone else had the day off, the presenter who was also slightly behind and I came in to catch up on the training we had missed. It went pretty quickly, as some of the information was repeated. We learned how to work the radios (our form of communication in the park), safety, our mission statement, etc. We also took time to explore the two trails in Animal Kingdom: Pangani and Maharaja Jungle Trek. By the time we were done at the end of the day, we were roughly comfortable with what we would be doing come Monday. We took an assessment, which was basically a few questions to make sure we were okay with the information and that they hadn't missed anything in our training (it was painless), and we went on our merry way to enjoy our Sunday off.

On Monday we began our adventures into the parks. Throughout Monday and Tuesday we were broken into several groups of roughly 5 presenters, each with a leader. The leader went through the KDC with a Guest while we watched, learning how to run the KDC and observing how the conservation message fit into the conversation. We had a different trainer each day so we would have the opportunity to observe different styles of presenting. After that, we were given the reins and took over the KDC for the rest of the time.

Our rotation schedules are really nice. We usually start off the morning in the Oasis at an animal location (such as the babirusa, macaw, muntjac, etc.) or right in front of the turnstiles with an insect/invertebrate or prop of some sort (such as a bone, molt, or the poop game... way cooler than it sounds). After that, our shifts at each animal location or KDC are generally about an hour or less, unless we're closing at the end of the day or at the Conservation Station, which is quite a hike and much more efficient to keep presenters there for 2+ hour periods. Each day we are assigned a different letter, so we'll never have the same rotation schedule two days in a row. In case we were feeling slightly scheduled in our day (ha, ya right...), at random times of the week, we might also have a Harambe School or Dino Sue Presentation thrown in. Keeps it interesting!

For the rest of the week (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday) we were paired with another presenter and given our wings. Our days begin meeting at 8:15 and out in the park by 8:45ish.We were assigned a letter together and left to navigate the rotation, KDC's, animal locations, and backstage areas on our own. It was great! The day's seem to go by so fast. It can get a little  chaotic at times, but then you're off to refresh at another station. By time you're done at 5:15, you're exhausted, but it feels good in an odd sort of way. I've found that I love working at the animal stations! Something about talking about Gibbons, Siamangs, and our every-so-smiley crocodile (hopefully sliding in a conservation message or two) has been absolutely entertaining.

Sunday will be my first day completely independent and with my own letter. It'll be the first week of a scheduled work week with our assigned days off. As Ellie would say from Up... "Adventure is out there!"


  1. Found your blog off of You write so well. I love Disney world and reading your blog is like a behind the scenes look. Keep it up!

  2. Thanks! I've been having a great time and sharing it with others is all part of the experience. Hopefully I can inspire others to take the next step and follow their dreams, whatever they may be.

  3. Hi Devin,

    I will be working as a conservation education presenter in Spring of 2012. I am interested in taking two classes at UCF, but I am afraid that it will interfere with the internship (and I do not want to do that!) Do we have a set schedule every week? Do we have any say on which day we get off or whether we prefer mornings or closing? Do most interns work from 8:15am - 5:15pm? Do you think it would be possible to take an evening class once a week?

    And if there is a better way to contact you, just let me know!

  4. Hello,

    In general, you will have a set schedule every week, but not always! You usually work from 8:30-5:30 every day, however, that does change at times. For example, during the week of Earth Day we were scheduled for overtime. Some of us only had one day off that week and/or worked later shifts. It really depends on the holidays and the crowds. That said, you'll usually have a set schedule, working 40 hours a week and having 2 days off as your weekend. Your schedule also is changed a bit for the 5 seminars you are required to attend throughout the semester, but it doesn't change it up too much and they're totally worth it! They're really interesting.
    You don't have the option as to preferring morning or closing, everyone generally works 8:30-5:30. You are asked which days you would prefer to have as your weekend, but it's not guaranteed that you'll end up with the days you request. During the times when the park is really crowded and the KDC's close at 7, you'll be able to request late shifts if you'd like them, but generally everyone is scheduled for at least one late shift. If you find someone to trade shifts with, they're okay with that too. As long as they have someone working the shift, they're flexible. You just have to fill out a form signed by both of you that says your okay with having your shifts swapped and have it approved.
    As far as taking an evening class, its possible. I know at first during the internship I was a bit overwhelmed by all the information we had to learn, but after a week or two you start to get established in your position and you'll have time in the evenings. I did not take a class, during the week, which was a personal decision. I didn't want to have to choose between enjoying an evening in Magic Kingdom watching the fireworks or doing homework, but if you dedicate yourself to the class, it's possible.
    If you'd like to contact me through email, my email address is :0)