Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Lafayette College sophomore Ann Day of Summit, N.J., was thinking she might enjoy a career that combined writing and working with people. So she served an externship at the Rachel Carson Homestead Association, and now she’s convinced of it.

During her externship, Day shadowed Mark Tomlinson, the executive director of the association, for an entire week in January. Tomlinson, a 1985 Lafayette graduate, is one of 170 Lafayette alumni who made externships available to students during the interim session between fall and spring semesters.

Rachel Carson, the renowned writer, scientist, and ecologist, is perhaps best known for her book Silent Spring. After her death in 1964, a group of people formed a nonprofit organization to preserve her former home in the small Allegheny River town of Springdale, Pa., near Pittsburgh, and educate the public about Carson and her work.

The mission of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association is to preserve, restore, and interpret Carson’s birthplace and childhood home; to design and implement education programs in keeping with her environmental ethic; and to serve as an international resource for information about her life and work. The Rachel Carson Homestead is the only site in the world that is interpreting Rachel Carson’s legacy to the public.

“It was a lot of fun, and it was interesting,” Day says. “I was hoping it would help me decide what to do after I graduate. I learned a lot about Mark’s job, and what goes into a nonprofit organization. It’s something I’d like to continue to explore.”

Tomlinson is responsible for everything from mowing the lawn, to applying for grants, writing press releases, and answering public questions about the museum and organization.

“I tried to give Ann a sense of what our work as a nonprofit organization and as a historical house museum is like,” Tomlinson says. “With a one-person staff, there’s a lot of variety in the work, and I think that was one of the biggest impressions she took away from the experience. Like most students she remembered visiting museums growing up, but never realized how much work goes into making them run. ”

It was a very full week for Day, who helped Tomlinson with several projects, including writing a press release about a new environmental book club (see, creating some new pages for and updating the organization’s Web site, attending a seminar on grant programs of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, attending a local borough council meeting to discuss restoration plans for the site, making posters for upcoming programs, sending letters to group tour operators, ordering shirts for the group’s bookstore, exploring some exhibit development projects, and finalizing arrangements for an exhibit at a museum in Maryland.

“I like that he does something different every day,” Day says. “It was interesting learning about the environmental aspects, and how a nonprofit runs. I thought I wanted to pursue a career in writing and working with people. This confirmed that.”

Tomlinson enjoyed the opportunity to mentor a Lafayette student, and attests to it eloquently.

“As someone who majored in art at Lafayette, I know how interests and career paths can take surprising turns, and how work and life experiences change our directions — and also how important a liberal arts education is, especially for those of us who wind up working outside of our college majors,” Tomlinson says.

“So I think I did it to give some of that experience back to someone, and to make a contribution to the college. My profession isn’t financially lucrative but the job satisfaction is high, and I think it’s important that college students see that side of it. And that they see the kind of patience and commitment it requires. It’s not very glamorous, as Ann can attest!”

Tomlinson was also thankful that someone at Lafayette was a major influence in his own future.

“I also think that my own direction was greatly influenced by someone at Lafayette whose passion for a subject, and the subject itself, inspired me greatly,” Tomlinson says. “History professor Donald Miller was writing a biography of Lewis Mumford in the early 1980’s, and would travel to Mumford’s Connecticut home on weekends and then share these visits and Mumford’s teachings with us during the week. Mumford was a social thinker who wrote extensively, especially on the history of cities and the relationship between man, technology and the natural world. My personal interest in environmental issues and in the history field was fanned by these discussions, and I think that they have played an important role in my own career path. It’s ironic to me that Rachel Carson, like Mumford, was elected to the elite American Academy of Arts and Letters for her contributions.”

Day is a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

Categorized in: Academic News