[I am] Going back west of the Mississippi and spending my pile out there in the country which an American statesman once said was fit only for the coyote and the rattlesnake. That’s my home country and that’s the place I love. Do I want to go back there? You just bet your life I do.” —William F. Cody, interview, The Baltimore Sun, April 20,1911
While this is not my home, I sure felt at home for the past ten weeks. This is most certainly the place I love. Cody, Wyoming, is a charming town, and truly a gem of the West. While my travels in the West have been limited to a few states, Wyoming is the beating heart of the West. The Spirit of the West lives and breathes in the lives of those who call Cody home, and especially in all those who make the Buffalo Bill Center of the West what it is today. My dream job is to be a curator of a frontier history museum, but I realize I am even more blessed to have fallen in love with the West and its story. My interest in the American frontier goes beyond museums, books, or media, but rather it extends into the lives of the incredible people of the West, and how their stories and culture are so relevant and alive to this day. I am proud to have worked at the Center of the West for a summer, and start living my dreams.
My experiences as an intern at the Cody Firearms Museum were everything I hoped for and more. Even before I arrived in Cody, I saw reports of a projected busy tourist season in Yellowstone and beyond. I was prepared for a very exciting and busy summer. And what a summer it was! This was my first experience at a museum of this caliber, and seeing so many people fill the galleries and learning about the American West was wonderful. Being an intern at the CFM absolutely showed me what my strengths and weaknesses are in museum work. I tackled tasks such as maintaining regular social media posts, performing educational firearms programs on historical firearms and how to safely handle firearms, participated in the installation of Great Basin 1873 Winchester, learned how to create sketches and design plans for an exhibit reinstallation, experienced events such as the Winchester Arms Collectors Association convention and the Buffalo Bill Invitational shootout, and so much more! Every opportunity was a fun and challenging task, all which will greatly aid me in my career endeavors.
I am extremely fortunate to have worked as an intern with Ashley Hlebinsky. She has become a role model of mine, and she is an exemplary curator. Her hard work and determination has taught me many valuable lessons that I will take with me into the world of firearms and museums. Future interns at the Cody Firearms Museum will surely have one of the most invaluable and exciting internships of their careers. Everyone at the CFM has made my internship a wonderful experience. They all do a fantastic job at making the Cody Firearms Museum and Firearms Records Office an enjoyable and engaging workplace each and every day.
This has without a doubt been the best internship I have ever had. I have made wonderful relationships with my fellow interns this summer, and I am sure each and every one will do incredible things as they progress in their education and careers. They too made the Buffalo Bill Center of the West such a great and exciting place to work at this summer. For years I had been pining to “Go West.” Not just physically travel out West, but to truly help share the real story of the American West. In my undergraduate experience, I questioned if I could truly be tapped into the history and experience of the American frontier.
I will close by saying for those of you who yearn to not only share that story, but experience all the romance and excitement the West has to offer, look no further than the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. Here the West is still, and will always be, alive. I am privileged to call this place a stepping stone in my journey through the West, and while I will miss it dearly, I will be sure to return when I can.