Behind the Scenes at Severson Dells with the Interns

My name is Arianna Papadakis. I have a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a Natural History focus and a minor in Peace Studies. I am spending my summer interning at Severson Dells Nature Center. I was lucky enough to have a Manchester University Alumni grant me this opportunity. I have come here with the goal of finding a focus for my future. For this, I need a wide variety of tasks to explore. Luckily Severson Dells offers me just that!


My days are anything but routine, I am always receiving a variety of tasks that keep me on my toes. From leading programs to organizing storage, I get to do it all. A current project I am participating in is the decoration the bird feeding stations. I am so glad to get to use my creativity to make bird viewing more enjoyable for the Severson Dells guests. The goal is for the stations to look as if covered in Virginia Creeper. The base of the posts have leaves resembling the vine’s spring colors, as the vine climbs the posts it transforms to resembling the plant through the seasons!


On a more regular basis I work on my research project. For my research, I have analyzed the current electrical appliances used in the nature center. After determining whether or not they are energy efficient I find alternative ways to reduce the Severson Dells energy use to better our facility and the Earth. After my proposal is ready I will hopefully be able to help the nature center move forward with new efficiency.

Working with guests is always the highlight of my day at Severson Dells. The people who come to camps, public programs, and volunteer days are a joy. Not only are they good people, but they genuinely care about nature. It has been a great experience to teach and learn alongside them.


I have also been given the opportunity to run Reading in the Rookery. This program occurs every other week and I always look forward to it. I choose a nature inspired book and put together a lesson plan based on that book! I have gotten to have a lot of fun adventures through this program. I’ve created sound maps, found the homes of many animals, and even searched plants for caterpillars! Some of my participants have come every program, making it so special for me to get to know them.


Of course, none of this would be possible without my coworkers. Everyone here is supportive and encouraging. I have learned a lot from each one of them. I am so thankful for everyone’s positivity and patience this summer. My coworkers have welcomed me into their community, making being so far from home a little easier.