Meet Chris Olsted, 2020 VetsWork AmeriCorps Intern!

by | VetsWork

Hello! I’m here because I wanted a fun, educational way to give my career in anthropology a kick-start. I have always been an extremely curious and outgoing person, even as a child. My father was in the Army, and though we happily lived off base, his ongoing reassignments to different states meant that I had to learn to adapt fast, make friends fast, and learn new environments quickly. While I was a huge fan of ecology, biology, and especially herpetology (reptiles) and bugs, I was drawn into archaeology through a combination of urban exploration and my dad’s NatGeo subscription. Since my friends and I tended to prefer the outdoors, we visited places that were forgotten, abandoned, or reclaimed by nature. It was a risk, but we always stayed as safe as possible, and we respected our ‘job site’ by taking only pictures, and leaving only footprints. As my love for exploration grew, I contributed to a growing online community, sharing stories and finding out about new places to explore. On one foray, we found some evidence of a ghost town in the Pine Barrens of NJ, and the research I did into the town’s history was just as rewarding as the pictures and scant artifacts we recovered. Piecing together real human experiences from the past was better than any puzzle or video game! I was heartbroken when those sites were closed down. They represented a wealth of real information about the places we explored, and the lost stories of the people who lived there.

My later experiences running a small science museum while in college also helped to teach me to work well with kids. I had already developed a talent for breaking down complex concepts ‘Barney style’, thanks to my time in the Marines. Then, I changed my entire approach to studying. I rewired myself to learn new subjects as if I had to teach them to a 5-year old. It seems silly, but it was effective! I got amazing feedback from parents of kids who visited my museum, or who came with me on one of my kayak tours. Some kids got way too excited and started pestering their parents with too many questions, just like I did as a kid (and still do!). Igniting that love of learning in a kid is one of those things that makes any amount of effort and study feel worthwhile, and so I’m interested in museum studies or education.