Staff Stories: Erin Kinnetz
Erin Kinnetz, Education Specialist at The Parklands, works year-round to develop a large portion of the educational programming. She helps to offer children’s curriculum for the family style programs, leads some of the field trips, and works with partner schools for outreach programs. But Erin’s role goes deeper than what the regular Parklands visitor may see on the outside. Her ability to reach out to those who come seeking knowledge at The Parklands was paved by fundamental building blocks of science, expression, and teaching acquired throughout her career.
One of the monuments on Erin’s pathway to her current position was a fusion of arts, science, and nature as a scientific illustrator. She defines the world of scientific illustration as taking “equal doses of science and art and throwing them in together”. This position involved researching a subject matter and morphing that into an illustration to be used as a teaching tool. This experience has come in handy in her current position. She notes that art is a common activity in the children’s programming, especially in the camps and family programs. “It’s a really great form of expression to take art, science, and nature all together.” Erin affirms, “It’s very fun!”
Another steppingstone on Erin’s journey was working with youth in a small residential unit for mental health care. “It was difficult, it was very difficult, but I loved it.” Erin said, “It’s nice to be able to take that and put it into practice in a situation where the kids have a little bit more control.”
Erin is mindful of the lasting impact that this position had on her and appreciates her current opportunity to change the lives of kids by teaching them life skills to build upon. She has a special objective when it comes to working with kids that come to The Parklands to learn.
“It’s twofold. I want these kids to come out here and learn about science and learn some of those next generation science standards,” Erin expressed, “But I also want them to have fun. I want them to love it. Because if they love it, they’re going to care more about those science standards.”
The Parklands is full of special people behind the scenes working to make a difference, and Erin is unquestionably one of them.