Internship Spotlight: Brianna Christensen

Floyd Central graduate Brianna Christensen was selected for the Howard Johnson III Memorial Fund internship program, where she was paid for her on-the-job experience at the Waterfront Botanical Gardens.

The summer following senior year in high school can be both a magical and frightening time for students. While it’s exciting to think about new adventures and opportunities that await, it can also be a time of uncertainty about the future.

For Floyd Central High School (FCHS) graduate Brianna Christensen, she was offered to leave all the noise behind her in the months following her graduation and focus on something she loved: botany.

Thanks to a unique internship opportunity offered to FCHS students by the Howard Johnson III Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, Brianna got something in addition to a hands-on experience in her future field of study – she was paid.

Brianna was one of the fortunate students who was selected to participate in the internship program through the Howard Johnson III Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana. As the co-President of the Environmental Sustainability Club during her time at FCHS, Brianna loved spending time around plants and greenery – and thanks to the internship program, now she had an opportunity to get her hands dirty, literally, with the Waterfront Botanical Gardens (WBG) in Louisville, KY.

“Prior to working with WBG, Brianna had very little job/work experience,” said Wanda Peck, Youth Education Manager at the Gardens. “The internship with our organization taught her how to translate her abundant knowledge of the natural world into age appropriate, real-life lessons for school-aged learners. Of course, Brianna also learned basic gardening skills such as planting, pruning, weeding, watering, and harvesting from our exemplary horticulture department.”  

Dividing her time between the Waterfront Botanical Gardens and the smaller Avish Estates branch, Brianna spent the summer mentoring elementary-aged students, teaching them all about plants, flowers, and their life cycles. Not only was she leading a class about a subject she loved dearly, but Brianna was also planting the seeds of knowledge for her students to one day have the opportunity to fall in love with it, too.

“The Botanical Garden staff gave me an opportunity to choose between working out in the gardens with the horticultural interns or working in youth education. Since I helped run the Environmental Sustainability Club at Floyd Central, I thought teaching kids about the importance of the natural world at an early stage would be the most rewarding,” Brianna said. “Knowing how to communicate with kids is incredibly important, especially when it comes to the environment.”

As for future students interested in applying for a paid internship through the Howard Johnson III Memorial Fund, Brianna wholeheartedly endorses it.

“I would say that you should definitely do it,” Christensen said. “This internship program has been incredible, and the people I have worked with have been amazing. What you learn as a person during this internship will improve you in so many aspects of your life. When you combine that with being paid to do something you love, applying for this opportunity was a no-brainer for me. I would absolutely encourage others to do the same.”

Brianna will be attending Indiana University – Bloomington in the Fall and plans to major in Environmental Management with a Minor in Law and Public Policy.

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