Project Chimps, Morgantown, GA

Taylor Dockery

My internship at Project Chimps changed my entire perspective on what I could pursue with a career in anthropology. I am highly interested in biological anthropology and fully intend to obtain my Masters in biological anthropology, but when it came to choosing an internship, I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. Fortunately for me, working as a chimpanzee caregiver at Project Chimps was the once in a lifetime internship that I was lucky enough to experience. As an intern, I was assigned to an experienced chimpanzee caregiver, who was my mentor and taught me everything I needed to know in terms of chimp behavior and safety. Each day, I would arrive at the sanctuary at 8 a.m. and the chimps would be waiting in the ‘villa’ (housing area for the chimps) for us to begin our daily routine of feeding them and cleaning their bedroom area and porches, which required extensive scrubbing daily.

Spending time with the chimps in the afternoon after the day’s final rush truly kept me on my toes because their interactions, from an anthropological perspective, are very similar to our human interactions. Meal time, in particular, allowed my interpretive mind to see the complex social interactions at play and understand chimpanzee social hierarchy. I began to see that some chimps never had their food stolen but other chimps, always had their food stolen because they were little.

Apart from beginning to understand the complexity of chimp social relationships and actions, I found myself beginning to see the characters of each chimp come through the more time I spent with them. Within three days of working at the sanctuary, I knew the names and faces of all 11 chimps that were housed in my ‘villa’. A couple of weeks in, I began to fall in love and truly know each chimp on a personal level. Before I knew it, I found myself remembering that this one absolutely loves peaches or that another one would soon steal my heart and always want me to blow bubbles for him (as can be seen in the photo). Ultimately, the internship required hard work, lots of sweat and dedication, but mostly it required love and the desire to make a change. Helping better the lives of these retired medical research chimpanzees was the first and foremost reason I chose the sanctuary as my internship, but the chimps ultimately ended up giving me so much more than I ever could have offered them. I truly do not believe I could have picked a more wonderful facility and group of people to intern with because they gave me more than I had ever expected. It took no time at all for me to realize that anthropology has so many more doors to open than I knew that it could, and I am excited for a lifetime of being able to pursue so many wonderful career paths thanks to anthropology. Who knows… the next time you see me I might just be the next Jane Goodall.

Funk Heritage Center, Waleska, GA

Lydia Wood

For my summer internship, I worked at the Funk Heritage Center in Waleska, Georgia. The Center is associated with and located on the campus of Reinhardt University. It showcases the early history of Northern Georgia, including southeast Native Americans and early Native American settlers.

Currently, the staff of the Funk Heritage Center are creating a new exhibit about the transformation of Cherokee culture during the 1800s before the Trail of Tears. For my internship, I researched content for this new exhibit using a combination of the internet, books, and old census records. It was an interesting experience. As a student, I had gotten used to using the internet, online databases, and online journals to find information. However, in my internship, some of the information I needed was too specific to Cherokee County to be easily found through these resources. Fortunately, a new director joined the Funk Heritage Center in July, and he had many useful books. I also used genealogy sites to find information of the descendants of early Cherokee County settlers.

My other duties beyond research included clerical work such as copying and shredding papers. I also shadowed a few tours for children and adults and conducted surveys on visitor experiences because my supervisor was interested in what people, especially children, thought of the Museum and how they had heard of the Museum. I learned quite a lot about how museums are run and how new exhibits are planned at the Funk Heritage Center. I hope that I will be able to use the skills I’ve learned there in the future.