FARMINGTON — Kathleen Joseph’s memories of a school field trip to Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts, recall a super boring experience for the then-kindergartner.

Besides which, she got gum stuck in her hair while touring the living history center, where the world of the 17th century New England comes to life.

Despite those memories, the University of Maine at Farmington senior said she returned to Plimoth Plantation this summer to work as an intern.  

History is much more interesting now, she said. The actors, their historical knowledge and the ability to portray life in a 1700 village, along with the hands-on learning experience Joseph now says is “cool and exciting.”

Her home in Norwell, Massachusetts, is about a half an hour drive from the museum. The last three years she has spent pursuing a secondary education major with a concentration in social studies and a minor in special education at UMF. 

Joseph sought a teaching internship for the summer. When that did not happen, she looked around and was interested in how Plimoth Plantation approaches history and “makes it come alive, literally,” she said.  

The more she thought about it, the more she wanted it.

Whether creating lesson plans for children in the Plimoth Summer Camp or historically relevant lessons for the Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the tall ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth in 1620, helping with dinner dressed as a pilgrim or working on a celebration of the opening of the plantation’s new honeybee and butterfly garden, the experience has helped her grow, she said. 

“I didn’t know much about bees. It pushed my boundaries,” she said. “Preparing lesson plans for history in programs outside my comfort zone helped me grow.”

But, Joseph has also worked on an independent special project this summer, based on her courses here at UMF.  

When Vicki Oman, her supervisor at Plimoth Plantation, noticed Joseph’s minor in Special Education on her resume, Joseph was asked to help develop a guide for families with children with cognitive disabilities such as autism, Joseph said. 

The guide prepares a child for what they will see, what they can do and touch. The guide will also help families get the most out of their experience, she said.

Joseph will present her work to museum directors prior to completing her internship on Aug. 19.

Creating fun ways to teach history to young campers this summer also helped Joseph remember what she liked about history.

“It made history so exciting again for me,” she said about “getting into the story and finding ways to make it come alive through the human experience.”

Active with theater and improv at UMF, Joseph has enjoyed the theatrical side of Plimoth Plantation, she said. Characters, the pilgrims, and living in the village make their experience as historically accurate as possible. They know so much and converse their experience rather than reading a script, she said.

The village provides a living representation of life, whether it is crafts, dyeing wool, making candles or hand-stitching costumes. People respect history and bring it to life, she said.  

Exciting things are often happening. Following a recent lively re-enactment of a court case, a man was kicked out of the village. A wedding took place that guests and staff were able to participate in, she said.

The internship has another plus side. With help from UMF’s Partnership for Civic Advancement, Joseph will receive six UMF credits and a $1,200 UMF-Bangor Savings Bank Intern Award to help with the unpaid internship.

Lorraine Pratt from the Partnership with Civic Advancement, professor Chris O’Brien, faculty sponsor, and Oman helped Joseph complete the required agreements for the internship.

“Since this is virtually a full-time position, but is not a paid internship, getting an intern award was very important for Katie,” Pratt said. 

Joseph was one of over 30 other students who applied for unpaid internships this summer, she said. 

Bangor Savings Bank Foundation, the Partnership’s sustaining partner, has provided grant funding to the Partnership to support the work of student interns since the program was initiated in late 2011. 

“Without their support, it would have been extremely difficult for UMF to get this initiative started and the internship program would not have been able to expand and grow as much as it has over the past five years,” Pratt said.

“I lucked out. Everyone in Farmington helped make it happen,” Joseph said. “Everyone was great on both sides.”

Joseph’s earlier memories of Plimoth Plantation are now replaced with a summer of good experiences.

“I can see myself coming back as a teacher,” she said. 

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