It’s been a busy Spring at Project Exploration! We’ve had productive programs and some staff changes! As we said goodbye to our Director of Programs and Community Relations, Mrs. Syda Taylor, we welcomed back a familiar face to our program team. Ms. Kiara Byrd, who started as a STEM Facilitator for Sisters4Science at three of our schools in 2014 – 2015, has returned and taken on the role of Program Coordinator to help increase our program quality and student engagement!
During her first few weeks back at Project Exploration, Kiara sat down with our Program Manager, Jaclyn Carmichael to talk about the transition and what she looks forward to while being back with our organization!
Project Exploration (PE): Welcome back Kiara! Tell us about what brought you back to Project Exploration!
Kiara Byrd (KB): I came back to Project Exploration because I always felt it was like “home” for me. The atmosphere is welcoming, the team is always supportive, and it is relieving to be surrounded by people who have the same mindset as yourself.
PE: Before returning to PE, you worked at Eden Place Nature Center in the Fuller Park neighborhood of Chicago. How did your time there help prepare you for your new position as Program Coordinator at Project Exploration?
KB: Even though it was for a short time, I do not regret my experience at Eden Place. I was able to tap into skills I never knew I had. I was able to develop graphic design and marketing skills while at Eden Place. I also was in charge of various projects at one time, so it helped me to better juggle my priorities and being able to multi-task more efficiently. I also gained a better understanding on the “behind the scenes” on how it is to own your own non-profit and how political things can be as well.
PE: How do your new responsibilities compare to those you had when a STEM Facilitator with us? Are there parts of being a STEM Facilitator that you look forward to incorporating into your new position?
KB: With my new responsibilities, I say that I have to be more analytical and more strategic now than when I was a STEM Facilitator. As a STEM Facilitator, I was more focused on the children and how I can make science fun for them. Now with my new position, not only do I think about the students, but I also have to think about the organization as a whole and also our partners. It is now important to make sure that our students, corporate/community partners are all on one accord in order to successfully provide the programs we do to various schools. I will say that from having experience in the classroom, I can be more helping to the current facilitators because I completely understand when things go right and when things go wrong. I also have some idea in what the students are looking for from the program and what they can benefit from in the long run.
PE: What is your favorite part about working with Project Exploration and youth we serve?
KB: My favorite part of working with Project Exploration is when I see the youth from programs and they run and give me a hug. I have been told a couple of times from girls that they wish I was their science teacher. I would not become a teacher but those moments make me all warm inside. I left an impact on them and because of the work PE does, they enjoy science and do not want the program to be just temporary, but a main resource for science education.
PE: Outside of working with Project Exploration youth, how do you enjoy spending your time?
KB: Sleeping 🙂 No but I usually spend my time with my family and occasionally catch up with my friends by going out to eat or to an event.
PE: How do you feel this new position will prepare you for your future career plans?
KB: I feel this position will prepare me for building my managerial skills, leadership skills, and being able to balance more things that can come from working in a non-profit setting.
PE: Is there anything else you can see yourself getting from Project Exploration?
KB: I am just truly grateful for being hired back from 2014. I never imagined myself being in the education field before this and I have never been so happy with a career in my whole life. Being part of PE is definitely fulfilling and that is exactly what I look for as a reason why to get up in the morning and go to work.