MPC Intern: Mai Ker Thao

by Mai Ker Thao, Seasonal Staff, Mississippi Park Connection

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My name is Mai Ker Thao and this is my third summer working with Mississippi Park Connection (MPC). My connection to the Mississippi River and environment stems from my initial experience with the Mississippi River Green Team (MRGT), a youth program I joined in 2012. My experience with MRGT contributed to my self-growth and understanding of the environment, specifically the Mississippi River. MRGT taught me about watersheds and ecosystems, the history of the Mississippi River, invasive species and how they impact the environment, the importance of using non-toxic cleaning supplies, and why we need to keep our rivers clean. In addition, I gained immense social skills working in a team dynamic. I completed my 2-year term with MRGT and from that experience, I realized that I wanted to continue my involvement with the environment.

After MRGT, I worked at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary where I was able to expand my knowledge of habitats, flowers, trees, and bird species. Then to my great surprise, I was selected for the National Park Service’s Fellowship program. Through the Fellowship, I was introduced to MPC and their vision of engaging people with the national park in the heart of the Twin Cities. Upon the completion of the Fellowship program, MPC hired me on as a seasonal summer staff in a different capacity.

As a MPC staff member, I was assigned to assist NPS at the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam Visitor Center during the summer. In this role, I was able to use the skills and knowledge I had gain over the years. At the Visitor Center, I worked extensively with National Park Rangers. This summer, I return to work at the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam Visitor Center and assist National Park Rangers with visitors and tours. I also provide support at MPC’s office where I keep track of donations, create thank you letters to donors, and enter data into the donor system.

I am ecstatic to be working with MPC again and happy that they have kept me for three summers. One of the best thing about this job is the group of wonderful staff. When my internship is over, I will continue to support MPC and continue to stay connected to the river.

Go out, enjoy the river, and be adventurous!