Southeast senior historic preservation major Hallie Fieser completed an internship at the National Park Service Midwest Regional Office in Omaha, Neb., this past summer that could, quite possibly, point her future career path in a new direction.
“As a National Council for Preservation Education (NCPE) intern, I was employed by NCPE to assist with the History/National Register Program of the Midwest Regional Office,” Hallie said. “Working closely with architectural historians, architects, and landscape historians, I gained valuable experience within the field of cultural resource management. During my 10-week internship, I assisted with many projects including learning archeological investigative techniques at the Tabor, Iowa, city park; investigating possible future National Historic Landmarks (NHLs); entering status information from the 2008 NHL Condition Reports for the region; and completing a survey of nearly 2,000 garages in the Riverside, Ill., NHL District to determine their significance, just to name a few. I never realized how important it is to document every building within a historic district, including garages. Nor, did I realize the number of garages we would assess on foot over just four days.”
Hallie also served as the editor and designer for the third NHL newsletter, Exceptional Places, for the Midwest Region.
“In addition to editing the layout and text from the other members of the History/National Register program, I applied my own personal interest in Mesker-produced storefronts to create a newsletter article that discussed the importance of these companies in the Midwest Region, which includes Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The article I wrote, ‘At the Forefront of the Storefronts: Frank, Ben, and George Mesker,’ was finally published earlier this month. It was very exciting to see my name in print, especially as the byline on the leading front-page article in a National Park Service Publication.
“In addition to being an excellent resume builder, my internship experience provided me with an opportunity to explore a career in cultural resource management in a way that incorporated my own interests and allowed me to use and identify all of the various knowledge and skills that I have gained throughout my time at Southeast, particularly through the historic preservation program,” she said.
After graduating this May, Hallie says she plans to continue into graduate school, seeking a master of arts in public history degree, with a concentration in cultural resource management, although she is still in the process of determining where she will pursue these studies.
“My time at Southeast has definitely contributed to my success both in and out of the classroom,” Hallie said. “As an honors student and at the encouragement of my advisor, I have learned to build projects and research topics around my own personal interests. Developing projects this way not only allowed me to build an excellent resume, but it also kept me interested in the topic and allowed me to somewhat direct my own education. The skills and knowledge gained through projects in both historic preservation and my interior design minor have allowed me to develop a transferable and practical skill set that will follow me as I continue my studies and eventually pursue a career in cultural resource management. This was quite evident during my internship. I did not realize the skills and knowledge that I possessed, until I began discussing potential projects and soon discovered that I had already completed studies on many similar topics.”
Working as a research assistant in the Center for Regional History provided Hallie with professional experience as a student as well, she said.
“My duties, which include editing and preparing manuscripts for publication as books and researching people and places related to the history of southeast Missouri, have allowed me to not only grow professionally and academically, but also personally. Through local projects and events, such as the Bicentennial of Old Lorimier Cemetery, where I interpreted the life of Joseph Lansman, a local builder, and Digging Up History, a heritage education project with fourth graders at Franklin Elementary, my public relations skills have grown. I am no longer the shy, reserved freshman who arrived at Southeast, but rather an enthusiastic and prepared professional ready to meet the challenges of my future studies and career in preservation.”
Hallie attended grade school and high school in Jackson, Mo., but grew up in the village of Tilsit, Mo., which is about halfway between Gordonville and Burfordville, Mo., in Cape Girardeau County.
“One of my favorite moments from Southeast was my first day of classes,” Hallie said. “Growing up nearby, I had frequented the campus for events like History Day and the International Festival of Sharing through Girl Scouts. While I felt confident in finding all of my classes, I was unsure of whom I would know in class. As I found my seat and prepared for my first University course, World Religions with Father J. Friedel—a part of the Honors F.L.I.G.H.T.—an outstretched hand greeted me, ‘Hi. I’m Jenna. We’re going to be friends.’ Little did I know that day would change the course of my next four years on campus. Jenna and I became best friends and have been roommates for the past two years. Lifelong friendships have been formed during my time here with many from other backgrounds than my own.”
Hallie says she enjoys driving downtown in Cape Girardeau to look at the metal cornices and storefronts of Main Street, Broadway and Spanish Streets.
“I am currently working on a project to show the impact of the Mesker companies—Mesker Brothers Ironworks and George L. Mesker & Co.—on the built environment of Cape Girardeau and Perry counties. I also like to drive around on county roads that I’ve never traveled on before. I often see beautiful barns, which are another interest of mine, as well as homes, wildlife and fields that remind me of the agricultural background of southeast Missouri.”
When Hallie is not busy with academic and professional projects, she says she likes
to volunteer at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Cape Girardeau Conservation
“Assisting with programs, I find that I not only get to help others enjoy the nature that surrounds us, but I also gain experience dealing with the public and the history of the region,” Hallie said. “Plus, as my parents and grandparents have taught me, it is very important to give back to the community in which you live.”
Hallie also enjoys traveling and says Virginia is a favorite travel destination, not only because she has family there, but also because there are so many historic and important places to explore in the area between Virginia Beach and Washington, D.C. As far as future destinations, Hallie says she would like to tour Europe.
Hallie has two bits of advice for future Southeast students:
“1. Never be afraid to ask questions if something is not clear – both in class and after class. I am certain I would not have been as successful throughout my time at Southeast if I hadn’t taken the time to talk to instructors after class or outside of class to make sure that I understood the material.
“2. Take charge of your own education. If a course is not offered in an area of interest, don’t hesitate to speak to your advisor or professor to see if there are other avenues for learning and credit. Independent studies and honors projects often encompass personal areas of interest that are not covered in other courses. You are in charge of your education.”