Members of the third junior class at Animas High School – the school itself is only five years old – are back from three-week internships at businesses, educational organizations and public agencies.
Sixty third-year students participated in the Leading Internships for New Knowledge (LINK) program that took them to hosts in La Plata County, out of state and to two foreign countries.
“The students can set up internships that further their interests and career goals,” said Libby Cowles, the LINK coordinator. “If they don’t find their own, I connect them with the community.”
Among hosts that have received students more than once are Durango Fire Protection District, Durango Early Learning Center, Weaselskin Equestrian Center, La Plata County Humane Society, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Turtle Lake Refuge and Goff Engineering.
Students worked 30 to 40 hours a week for the weeks of March 3, 10 and 17.
Keagan Felker wanted to learn firearm engraving from Marty Rabeno, a Durango craftsman he met at a gun show in Las Vegas.
“I’m artistic – drawing and sketching – and I’m an avid shooter – 4-H skeet and trap shooting and the shooting range,” Keagan said. “So in my internship, I can combine two passions.”
Under Rabeno’s watchful eye, Keagan learned to adorn metal plates depicting scenes or animals that are affixed to the wooden stock or grip of rifles and revolvers.
Heidi Williams traveled to the Pacuare Nature Reserve, 2,600 acres of tropical rainforest on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica where the giant leatherback turtle nests.
She spent two weeks there collecting turtle eggs and locating them near the sea, so they’d be in a nurturing environment when they hatch. The next two weeks – she stayed during spring-break week that followed the internship – working on an organic farm and doing reef research.
“I’m passionate about animals, nature and the environment,” Heidi said. “I’m looking for a career, a hands-on career, that combines all of them.”
Allie Rodd worked in a medical clinic in Malawi for four weeks – she also took spring-break week. She was in Lilongwe, the landlocked country’s capital of almost 1 million people.
“I arranged the internship through friends of my mother, who grew up in Africa,” Allie said. I was assisting three or four doctors who treat malaria, deliver babies and give vaccinations.
“I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was small because I know how big the need is,” Allie said. “I also want to help women who have been abused.”
LINK was modeled on a project-based learning program at High Tech High School in San Diego, Calif., Cowles said. Independent High Tech High was launched in 2000 to prepare students for postsecondary education, citizenship and leadership in the high-tech industry.
“LINK is not a complete replica of High Tech High,” Cowles said. “But from the beginning, Animas High was going to be a charter school with a strong college-prep curriculum.”