Indiana State University Newsroom

PR major puts skills to work at Terre Haute Children's Museum

July 20, 2009

Taylor Schaffer, a junior at Indiana State University, aspires to help others by one day working for a non-profit agency. She's a step closer to realizing that goal thanks to a summer internship at the Terre Haute Children's Museum.

With a major in public relations and minor in political science, Schaffer knew she wanted to spend the summer working in a position that would provide her with the practical experience she'll need to be competitive in the job market once she graduates.

"I was looking for something to build on for the future," she said. "I wanted to expand my horizons and see what was out there."

Her search led to the Children's Museum where she now works as a summer marketing intern tackling projects ranging from advertising to video promotion to newsletters.

"In high school I had a yearbook teacher who was very dedicated to making sure we knew how to use different design programs, so I had a pretty good background when I started college," said Schaffer, a Terre Haute South Vigo High School graduate. "Here at the Children's Museum I'm able to use those skills to help with their marketing needs."

Schaffer applied for and was awarded a Focus Indiana Scholarship to help pay for her work at the museum. Supported by a grant from Lilly Endowment and scholarship funds from ISU alumnus Rex E. Breeden, Focus Indiana provides students with meaningful opportunities to help them on their way to a career in their chosen fields.

Schaffer said one of her favorite aspects of the internship is seeing her creative endeavors come to fruition.

"I was surprised how rewarding it is to see things I designed in print," she said. "I really enjoy designing things and then seeing them come to life."

Her work has also provided practical application of her coursework at ISU.

"In the classroom we talk about a lot of things in abstract terms. While I could give you the textbook definitions of public relations and marketing and tell you how they differ, working here has shown me that the two are very intertwined," she said.

The museum is currently involved in a capital campaign with a goal of raising $5.3 million for a new building. Schaffer has helped with campaign promotion and explored the use of social media as a means of promoting events and raising awareness.

"I've helped connect the Children's Museum to modern technologies. I set up a Facebook fan page where users can stay updated on the new building's progress," she said. "It's a really effective tool to let people know about everything we have going on here at the museum."

Scott Williams, executive director of the Children's Museum, said Schaffer fills an important role.

"Taylor has been extremely valuable to the work of the museum," Williams said. "We have a very lean staff and she has enabled us to expand our communication with the public. By having her on board, we've been able to produce an additional newsletter which means getting the word out to more people about our programs."

Working with agencies that serve the community has long been a passion for Schaffer. She started volunteering at the 14th and Chestnut Community Center during her junior year of high school and continues to teach dance there once a week.

"I like working with kids and being a positive influence in their lives," she said. "It's really made an impact on me."

Through her work at the Children's Museum, Schaffer continues to follow her passions.

"The museum is so targeted at children and so targeted at giving back. Feeling like I'm a part of helping Terre Haute grow and helping achieve those objectives has been really nice," she said. "I really enjoy working with everyone here and feeling like we're part of something bigger happening in downtown Terre Haute."

More information about the Terre Haute Children's Museum is available online at


Media contact and writer: Emily Taylor, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or

Photo: Taylor Schaffer