INCREASING DIVERSITY AND CREATING A SUSTAINABLE WORKFLOW: DIGITIZATION AT THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY
These students begin their work at LACMIP as unpaid interns and undertake photography and cataloging for the EPICC project while receiving class credit. They not only engage in diverse collections tasks, but are also learning skills such as taxonomic identification, georeferencing, and biodiversity data management. They may continue working beyond a semester should they succeed and become paid, part-time assistants. This system keeps the LACMIP volunteer and internship program sustainable as it grows. Experienced students become a crucial part of the digitization workflow as they mentor new students and take on more challenging tasks.
The student intern program has also allowed LACMIP to reach many students who are members of groups that are underrepresented in the geosciences. In 2008, fewer than 200 Latino students received bachelor’s degrees in the geosciences in the U.S. About 50% of LACMIP students are Latino, and many others are non-traditional students (adults, mothers with children). This model of internship for credit followed by paid part-time work, targeted specifically at underserved colleges and universities, is one that could be replicated by other institutions to increase participation while taking advantage of capable and enthusiastic students.