We’d like to give a warm welcome to Erika Nelson, who has joined us to work as the museum’s Community Engagement Director. Her work managing tours, outreach, and events makes it possible for the museum to connect and interact with the community. She was gracious enough to sit down for an interview with me, and I was able to learn more about her background and interests, as well as find out her goals for the future.
Mia: Where are you from?
Erika: I’m from Oxford Indiana, around 40 minutes away. My parents came 53 years ago and thought they’d stay for only one year.
M: What’s your job like at the museum?
E: At this job, I get to be very creative. I’m passionate about connecting people to each other, nature, and science. The museum can be a way for people to access these things. My goal is to be that. Have after school programs, and get kids in here to ask questions or touch something as a way of learning.
M: How did you find out about the museum? What brought you here?
E: I’m an educator. I teach at Miami University. I was looking for additional jobs and saw “community engagement”, and I thought, “That’s what I do!”.
M: What kind of background do you have with museums? With community engagement?
E: I’ve always worked in volunteer development and education development. I’ve worked with volunteers, and you need to have good relationships, listen to people, and be an advocate for them. As an anthropologist it’s been a natural thing for me to be responsive to other people’s needs and help people engage.
M: What’s your favorite part of the museum?
E: I love the mummy. It’s so fascinating to think that that was a real human being that people touched and knew. But I love elephants, so I also love the Mastodon because I lived in Africa.
M: What are you looking forward to this upcoming year? Do you have any long term goals?
E: I want to increase people’s access to the museum, have more students coming in, and multigenerational programs. I’d like to have inside and outside activities because kids get enough time inside.
M: If you had an unlimited budget for the museum, what would you do?
E: Where to begin right? Brand new building, new space, and space for things to be preserved properly. Expand the interactive learning centers and be closer to the woods and road.
M: What’s your favorite animal?
E: My totem animal is the slug. They are patient and slow moving, probably characteristics I need to develop. I am a very forward thinking and driven person.
A big thank you to Erika for participating in this interview. The museum is super excited to have you, for you are a great addition to this community. We are looking forward to seeing where your skills and ambition takes us!