Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Washington Conservation Guild

Hi! I'm Ana Alba and I've been asked by Heather Brown to contribute to the ECPN blog about our local conservation group here in the DC area! The Washington Conservation Guild has been an important local resource for conservation in the DC area since 1967. I joined as soon as I moved into the area as an intern and now play a more active role in the organization as a Director and soon to be intern coordinator. Heather asked me some specific questions about the organization and I'm glad to tell you a little more about it.

1. When, why and how was the group founded?
WCG was founded in 1967 to promote the increase and exchange of conservation knowledge. There is a wealth of information on the how our group was founded in our
September 2007 newsletter. There is a four-newsletter series on the history of the Guild, by decade, starting with that newsletter.


2. What regions do you cover?
WCG is based in Washington, D.C., and draws its membership primarily from Washington, Maryland, and northern Virginia. Members represent a wide cross-section of the conservation community and allied professions. They work in government, state, and private museums, studios, and laboratories, and other cultural and academic institutions and organizations.

3. How many members does the group have?
We currently have 230 members.

4. Are there any restrictions on membership?
No. All interested people can join.

5. What is the cost of membership and what does that fee cover?
WCG membership benefits include monthly receptions and meetings (October through May), a quarterly newsletter, a membership directory, website and email announcements of local activities and job openings, intern/fellow activities, volunteer opportunities, free admission to special lectures, and reduced registration on WCG-sponsored workshops and events. The membership year runs from July 1 through June 30.

6. Is there a discounted fee for students?
Yes. The student fee is 20.00. Additionally, WCG’s Sidney S. Williston Memorial Fund provides up to five interns/fellows with free membership in the Washington Conservation Guild. Intern supervisors must apply on behalf of the student and in return, elected interns must assist at the monthly meetings and prepare meeting summaries for the upcoming WCG newsletter. (The meeting summaries are also an easy way to add a publication to your CV, by the way.)

7. Are there opportunities for emerging conservators to become more involved?
Definitely! This year Kristin DeGhetaldi was the intern coordinator. I will be replacing her next year and will come up with lots of tour opportunities and visits to local institutions. Also, we try to do monthly happy hour meetings to give local interns a chance to make friends, connect and talk about their experiences. At one of our monthly meetings we host intern talks, where local interns and fellows have the opportunity to present their current research.

Interns and fellows can also volunteer time at WCG's Angels Projects. Angels Projects are created to pair local collections that need assistance with local conservators. This past November the WCG Angels took over the National Park Seminary to re-house, document and archive paper records belonging to the group Save Our Seminary (SOS)! This non-profit organization is a dedicated group of volunteers, who bring public awareness to the National Park Seminary through tours, research, public lectures and more. It's a great opportunity to get some hands on experience and meet people along the way.

8. What kinds of events do you hold and how often?
The Washington Conservation Guild holds meetings from October through May each year, usually on the first Thursday of the month from approximately 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. Most meetings are held at metro-accessible cultural institutions in the D.C. area. Meetings usually consist of a social hour (with hors d'oeuvres and drinks) followed by an illustrated lecture or tour of interest to conservation professionals. Meetings are free of charge to members, $5 for non-members.

9. Would any of your members be interested in joining the ECPN mentoring program?
Probably. Having met with and worked with many of the WCG members and knowing they've helped train many interns and fellows along the way, I'm sure that they would be open to this sort of one-on-one mentorship program. In any case, a friendly email can get you a long way. WCG members are generally very helpful and full of good advice.

10. What is the most special thing about your guild?

Few places in the world have this many museums in such close proximity to one another and this means... you guessed it... lots of conservators. Members aren't only from institutions. WCG brings together conservators in private practice,
conservation scientists, or other related specialists. The atmosphere that this provides fosters sharing ideas, collaboration, talking about projects, and networking.

Much of the information I provided in this overview was taken from the WCG website: http://cool.conservation-us.org/wcg/

Additional questions can be directed to me at a-alba@nga.gov

Thanks for this opportunity to share!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Diversifying your experience while you’re pre-program

Heather has posted some wonderful tips on what it takes to become a conservator, and her last post really rang true with me. It takes a lot of sacrifices to try to get even as far as a graduate school interview in this field, but we’re also blessed to do rewarding and interesting work that makes these sacrifices worth it.

I would like to add one more piece of advice to Heather’s list: (11) Diversify.

Even if you think you may know which specialty within conservation interests you the most, one key part of pre-program experience is to get a broader perspective on the field. Maybe you’re lucky enough to live in a major metropolitan city with abundant opportunities for internships, but maybe not—that’s why you have to have an open mind about the field of conservation and what “pre-program experience” really means.

Conservators come in many breeds, and many have worked in other places before coming to conservation. It’s no disadvantage to work a related field, even if the work seems not to offer the treatment experience we all crave. Here are some tips on how to think in broad terms and find ways to amplify your pre-program experience:

1. Think big.

Conservation is a large discipline, even if it may seem like a small community at times. Looking through the AIC directory can give you a sense of how diverse our profession is: there are conservators working on underwater archaeological conservation, natural history specimens, archival photos, national and international built heritage, and everything in between. Even if you’re interested in something specific, chances are you have something to learn by stretching yourself.

I started off with a summer Museum Studies Internship, which showed me that conservation in a big museum is one (important!) part of a much larger institution. Understanding the broader picture has helped me appreciate the relationships that form between conservators and education and curatorial departments in the museum, and other members of the arts community.

2. Think small.

Small museums are great places to work! Look for related positions in collections management, education, or anywhere else you can get involved. I worked for a year as a collections intern at the
Rosenbach Museum and Library, an amazing gem of a museum that has both a historic home and a research library replete with rare books, prints, photographs and plenty of Americana.

I got a lot of experience working with the collection and seeing the needs of a smaller museum that focuses heavily on preventive conservation. Even though I’m interested in objects conservation, this experience was crucial to my understanding of the field and I saw firsthand the value of historic documents and the importance of their preservation

3. Don’t be shy.

When I visited the
Academy of Natural Sciences for the first time since I was a little kid, I walked by the Fossil Preparation lab and saw people working on fossils right before my eyes. I asked some questions about what they were doing and what kind of experience they had. I was excited to learn that many of people I saw in the lab were volunteers, and asked who I could talk to learn more about working in the lab. After speaking to the lab supervisor, I contacted the museum’s official Volunteer Coordinator to begin volunteering. Now I get to work in an awesome lab preparing dinosaur fossils, and all it took was asking.

Don’t be shy when you visit museums. You should feel free to ask employees (docents, guides, visitors services, etc.) about opportunities to work or volunteer where they do. Usually when you show genuine interest in what someone does, they’re happy to talk to you. Make sure to ask for contact information and follow up.

Other tips:

Don’t forget to check the institution’s website: there’s probably a volunteer and internship coordinator waiting to hear from you.

Be persistent: sometimes emails get put on the back burner. If you haven’t heard back from someone, it usually doesn’t mean they didn’t find you important enough to email back. If you haven’t heard back from someone in a few weeks, email again, politely, to ask if they’ve had a chance to look over your request or if they know someone who can help you.

If you want to get diverse experience, you might consider trying to make some time for additional unpaid work, though I know this isn’t an option for everyone. If you can look for options to work as a weekend volunteer, you’ll get some valuable experience without sacrificing your 9-5 hours.

Last but not least, if you have an opportunity to meet other pre-program interns, ask them where they work and how they started out there. We pre-program interns know that it can be difficult to find internship opportunities, so let’s all help each other out. Current grad students and recent or not-so-recent graduates can also be a resource. Everyone has their own story of how they got into conservation, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Good luck!

Jessica Walthew

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Open Positions on the ECPN Committee

The Emerging Conservation Professionals Network seeks three new committee members:

1-year term, beginning in September 2011, submission deadline August 25, 2011

Chair, Vice-Chair, and Outreach Coordinator

The Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN) works with various AIC committees to address the needs of conservation professionals with fewer than 7 years of experience. This includes pre-program students, graduate students, and recent graduates. The committee seeks to increase participation in AIC amongst emerging conservators.

The chair position coordinates monthly conference calls, writes agendas for these calls, oversees projects like: the mentoring program, the student research repository, and is responsible for editing all published material about the group. The chair represents the committee to the board of directors and at the Internal Advisory Group meeting, and collaborates on projects with other AIC committees and with representatives from conservation graduate programs.

The vice-chair is a new position that will oversee all of the ECPN activities at the AIC annual meeting (ECPN informational meeting, happy hour, portfolio session, and any new activities) and the yearly ANAGPIC meeting (there is a speaker each year from the ECPN who attends the ANAGPIC meeting). The vice-chair will also be a logical candidate for taking over the chair position after their one-year term.

The outreach coordinator is in charge of all social media communication including the ECPN blog, Facebook page, Flickr site, and other projects that involve outreach and communications. The outreach coordinator works closely with the communications coordinator, currently Amy Brost. The outreach coordinator may also take over the chair position after completion of a one-year term.

The ECPN communicates primarily via email correspondence and monthly conference calls. The committee meets in-person annually at the AIC meeting.

Please submit a brief statement of interest and your resume to Rose Cull, Chair, AIC-ECPN, (roseemilycull [at] gmail [dot] com) by August 25, 2011.

Questions about committee activities can be directed to Rose, or ECPN’s current outreach coordinator: Heather Brown (hnmbrown [at] yahoo [dot] com)

For more information about the ECPN see: www.conservation-us.org/emerging.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May Meeting Minutes


May 19, 2011

Conference Call Attendees:
Rose Cull

Ryan Winfield

Karen Pavelka

Heather Brown

Carrie Roberts

Amy Brost

Rebecca Rushfield

LeeAnn Barnes Gordon

I. April Minutes

a. ECPN April minutes approved.

II. AIC Meeting 2011

a. Portfolio Session (Carrie) – Amber will send out the final notice on Monday to participants and will include the event location. Ryan will email it to her – it is Room 415, 4th floor. Buffalo will have 2-3 participants, Delaware will have 4, other programs will have at least one. Per Ryan, the 1-1:30 coffee break was canceled, so the committee agreed that the Portfolio Session should run during the 10-10:30 morning break and 3-3:30 afternoon break. Ryan will change the conference program guidelines to reflect this change.

b. Survey (Rose/Ryan) – ECPN members should review the survey (set up in Survey Monkey) that will be given to attendees at ECPN events following the AIC meeting. Rose will send it out to the full committee following the call. Provide comments/feedback to Rose and Ryan. Email addresses of participants will be collected at all ECPN events at AIC.

c. Meeting of the Graduate Programs (Carrie) – Primary discussion topic will be the student research repository. Stephanie Lussier of ETC, Carrie, and Amber will deliver a summary of the proposal, and then open the floor for discussion, which will be moderated by Eryl Wentworth. Will perhaps record it. Discussions will be used to develop the proposal, which is evolving. Topics for discussion: Types of documents (paper or/and posters?) How material will be submitted? What role will programs play in the vetting process? How are we going to sustain the site? Should there be a committee devoted over the long term to overseeing it and maintaining/expanding it? Should the database be part of CoOL or be its own separate entity? If it’s not on CoOL, how can it be funded? Carrie will forward agenda to ECPN members. Rose proposed adding Graduate Student Liaisons to the agenda for the meeting, in terms of a broader goal to connect students to what ECPN is doing. Get them involved in ECPN initiatives, not only the student research repository, but activities across the board.

d. ECPN Informational Meeting – Ryan provided the meeting location: Room 406, 4th floor. Rose asked that each committee member provide agenda items to her for this meeting. Amy, Heather, Carrie, and Amber should provide agenda items by Wednesday of next week.

e. Poster Amber picked it up. She should either download and complete the form for reimbursement from the AIC website, or provide her receipt to Ryan who will complete the form. Amy will connect with Amber and install the poster on Tuesday morning, if possible. Exhibit hall closes at 5 pm. Amy has a tour from 12:30-5:30, so if the poster cannot be installed before 12:30, alternative arrangements will be made. Amy to bring push pins. Ryan provided the space number: #18. Exhibit hall opens officially on Wednesday, 6/1 at 10 am. Anyone interested can join Rose during the poster session. Poster presenters are expected to stand by their posters for an “Author in Attendance” period, during the final coffee break (3:00 to 3:30 PM) on Thursday, June 2.

f. Flier – Ryan is having it printed for the conference bag.

g. Outreach – Heather already created Events in Facebook, and will post the Portfolio Session also. She will update the Wall, and the blog post is completed. Ryan will send out the email reminder.

h. Meeting Attendance – Additional meetings that will be attended by ECPN members are: Publications Committee (Amy), Education and Training (Carrie, Amber, and Karen), ECPN meeting (Rebecca Rushfield from the ETC), RATS meeting (Stephanie Porto). Rose & Amy will attend the Wiki meeting – if others are interested this meeting is 5:30-7 pm on June 2nd after the AIC business meeting. Amy will attend the Heritage Preservation Meeting on Wednesday at 4 pm.

i. Blogging at the AIC Meeting – Rachael needs bloggers. Has BPG and OSG. Looking for more people who are attending other sessions to blog. Karen suggested sending a message to chair of each session to call for volunteers. Rachael has done that, per Rose. Rose to email Rachael and let her know that people could write a summary and she would turn it into a blog post. Not sure why people are hesitant – the note-taking or the posting? For the AIC blog, has some kinks – introduction to Philly blog post going up soon. Heather will follow up with Rachael.

III. Position Vacancies – Chair, Vice Chair, and Outreach positions will be turning over and will transition by September. Heather will write a position description for Outreach and send it to Rose before the informational meeting at AIC.

IV. Mentoring Program – Rose and Ryan are drafting an e-mail to send to PA’s and Fellows to get more mentor applications. Some people applied and never heard back, probably due to legacy issues with the previous system. Rose will follow up with them and ask them to apply again. Karen added that she has heard the same – Karen will send something out to BPG to encourage people to apply again. The AIC Annual Meeting is a good opportunity to ask people in person. Karen would like paper forms to hand out to people. Ryan indicated that the revised forms are up on the website to download and print out. Rose will distribute hard copy forms as well.

V. Updating the AIC Website – Discussed at the Education and Training meeting. Stephanie Lussier indicated that the group is seeking suggestions from ECPN. Areas for updates include documents on the Education & Training page and “How to Become a Conservator.” Rose will set up an area for ECPN feedback on Google Docs.

VI. CAC – Rose will follow up with Stephanie to find out if anyone else from the Canadian group is coming to AIC, and to explore more ways to collaborate.

VII. IAG Meeting 2010 – Rose reminded everyone to take a look at the minutes from the November 2010 meeting of the Internal Advisory Group, to get a sense of the issues of importance for the organization as a whole.

VIII. Discussion – Rebecca made a general comment that she felt ECPN was a valuable resource, one that she would have appreciated when she first started. She hopes that students and recent graduates take full advantage of what the committee has to offer.

a. She asked about member numbers, and ECPN has around 500 people in the AIC mailing list (who checked the box to receive ECPN information), over 300 Facebook friends, and around 30 people attended last year’s informational meeting. The group has many stakeholders and is growing.

b. K-12 initiatives are being discussed by ETC to increase the number of people who appreciate the field and are interested in it. Rose responded that there is a tremendous need for conservation, and a discussion of how ECPN can help meet this need followed: (1) Perhaps a mentor program for small institutions on fundraising; (2) Engage the regional centers to help small institutions; (3) Advocacy that can help increase funding for the field; (4) Explore alternative funding models based on social media (example, Kickstarter.com)

c. See the poster at AIC about the value of conservators which has statistics about the profession and its past, and future

d. Brainstorming can be part of the ECPN meeting at AIC

IX. Early Career Support – Point was raised that there is a need for funding in the intermediate phase between student and Professional Associate (PA). Per Karen, the PA requirement was added to some funding to encourage PA status, but it does create a gap in funding eligibility. ECPN can help support emerging conservators seeking PA status. Also, in the ECPN statement about “what we do” it says we facilitate people’s transition to PA. Helping with the application? Maybe develop a “How to become a PA” FAQ sheet? Some people don’t know the steps or the benefits. Rose could call someone in membership to talk about this. Rose will speak with Tom Edmondson and Martin Burke. Ryan indicated that the PA evaluation committee has a different structure – the members process/approve applications. Function-oriented, and not interested in growth, per se. They try to remain impartial. Rose will develop talking points for ECPN informational meeting. Karen mentioned that acquiring PA status could be the point at which members move out of ECPN.

Note on accommodations at AIC: Rebecca Rushfield can share her room on Tuesday and Wednesday night for $10 per night. Email Rebecca if you or anyone you know is looking for a room to share. For the 2012 AIC Meeting, consider reaching out to more established conservators in advance to see if they would be willing to share their rooms.

Next call will be June 16 at 1 PM EST.

Respectfully submitted,

Amy Brost