Focus on Internships: Science Education

by Claire Fox, UCSB Career Services Peer

Penny Owens: Santa Barbara Channel Keeper; Education and Community Outreach Coordinator


Penny joined Santa Barbara Channelkeeper in 2004 as Education Coordinator and Assistant Biologist. After receiving a Bachelor’s in Biology and Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz, she assisted with several sub-tidal and inter-tidal monitoring projects, including work as a research diver in the kelp forests from Santa Cruz to the southern limit of giant kelp in Baja Sur, Mexico. Prior to joining the Channelkeeper staff to coordinate and implement the marine education program and assist with field work, she spent two years on Catalina Island as a science instructor with Catalina Island Marine Institute.

What is Santa Barbara Channel Keeper?

SB Channel Keeper is a local non-profit group that is responsible for overseeing the waterways in SB and surrounding areas.

What internship opportunities exist with SB Channel Keeper?

SB Channel Keeper takes concepts that are taught in classrooms and brings them outdoors and into nature! Students can assist Penny with science education presentations in local classrooms. Students must have some availability during the day to get involved with this opportunity. The Stream Team is another way to get involved. Some of the Stream Team roles include checking water quality and helping with PH water monitoring. Additionally, Stream Team members can help with maintaining one of the many watersheds. If you are interested in one time volunteering opportunities, beach clean ups take place once a month.

What are the ideal characteristics in a volunteer or intern?

According to Penny, “having passion and motivation have the ability to make up for missing skills.” Successful interns are the ones that are dedicated and committed. SB Channel Keeper teaches skills such as water quality monitoring, calibrating meters, data entry, and data analysis. Any majors are encouraged to apply.

I’m interesting in getting involved, how do I connect?

Visit the website and read more about the opportunities available! Then submit the interest form along with a resume.

Why this profession?

Penny’s role is to supplement teachers work by providing hands on opportunities for students. She was drawn to this because she enjoys applying and connecting the science concepts that she was taught in school.

Susan Johnson: Coordinator, Science and Math Initiative; Cal TEACH


Sue is the Coordinator of the Science and Math Initiative through The Gevirtz School of Education at UCSB. She began teaching in Middle and High School and then began to teach teachers how to teach. Now she is in a position where she helps students become teachers.

What type of internship opportunities are available?

CalTeach (also known as the Science and Math Initiative) provides experience it the classroom. It was designed to address the shortage of math and science teachers in California. With CalTeach, undergraduates will spend 3-5 hours a week in a classroom in grades 7-12. Additionally, the Noyce Undergraduate Internship is another opportunity for undergraduate students majoring in Chemistry, Physics, and Engineering. A stipend is rewarded for completion. 

What is the process for connecting?

If you are interested, in Cal Teach you will take 4 introduction classes found within The Gevirtz School of Education.  There is also an education minor which includes a practicum course. Contact Katie Blackwell, the CalTeach Student Placement Coordinator, for specific opportunities.

Why did you choose this profession?

Sue likes seeing “the accomplishments in students and observing their success”. Sue stated that “teaching is hard work but that [she] left everyday feeling that she did something valuable.”

Kristine Faloon: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Ty Warner Sea Center Community Education Coordinator-Outreach


Kristine is the Community Education Coordinator-Outreach at the SB Museum of Natural History and Ty Warner Sea Center. As an undergraduate student studying Biology, she traveled abroad. Following graduation, she went back to the school she attended while abroad and began teaching. Upon returning to the States, she went to the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UCSB for graduate school.

What type of internship opportunities are available?

There are many opportunities to volunteer at the Natural History Museum and Sea Center- for 1 day or serve weekly. Volunteer opportunities at the Sea Center require a minimum commitment of 4 months and offer flexibility in the type of volunteering. Additionally, volunteer opportunities at the Museum include becoming a museum docent, working with teens and working with children. While there is not a GPA requirement, you will need to be willing to engage and interact with the public.

How do I get involved?

Visit the website and see what you are interested in! Then email the Museum Volunteer Manager, Rebecca Fagan Coulter ( with your interests. Kristine recommends that when you submit your resume you “make sure it is free of errors because it is a representation of who you are.”

Why did you chose this profession?

As a TA in graduate school, Kristine realized that she enjoyed helping students and serving in a teaching position. Kristine enjoys “working alongside students” and “connecting kids with nature.”

Shannon Carpenter: Junior High School Teacher, La Colina Junior High

Shannon received her Aquatic Biology undergraduate degree at UCSB and while a student she was an intern at the SB Museum of Natural History and Ty Warner Sea Center in the Invertebrate Zoology collections department, working in a lab environment with specimens During her time there, she was asked to assist with teaching a science class for high school teachers and realized that she loved it! That experience led her to UCSB for her Master’s in Education and teaching credential. She has taught in both Junior High and High School. She currently is a science teacher at a junior high school in Santa Barbara.

What are some necessary skills for an intern?

Shannon shares that having a large skill base is not enough when it comes to teaching, teachers also need to know how to teach. There are a variety of ways for undergrad students to get experience with teaching- from formalized programs like CalTeach at UCSB to more informal experiences like working as a summer camp instructor.

Any suggestions on becoming an intern and getting experience in SB?

Shannon shares that all the teachers in Santa Barbara know one another so you always want to “leave a good impression when you are volunteering/interning in a classroom.” According to Shannon, “volunteering is like a job interview all the time.” Many times volunteering can lead to a job in the future so it is important to be “professional.” 

Why did you choose this profession?

Shannon says that she “loves science, but the most rewarding part of being a teacher is seeing students grow and become individuals.” She hopes to create informed citizens by allowing for her students to apply their knowledge beyond the classroom. 

Julie Bursek: Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary: Team Leader, Education and Outreach


Julie Bursek is the Education Coordinator for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary's, working to develop education programs, products and partnerships that increase awareness about the sanctuary's cultural and living resources. Her professional experience includes the development and implementation of floating laboratory educational and research programs and the coordination of community based volunteer programs and partnerships with community businesses, science educators and research institutions to promote environmental awareness in the classroom, at community festivals and events. Julie holds a bachelor's degree in Aquatic Biology from University of California at Santa Barbara and a Master's degree in Biology from California State University Fullerton.

Visit the website to learn about volunteer opportunities!!!

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