University of Minnesota Extension summer program gives students a season to learn with educators and communities.
Abby Maunu was marking test plots for a small grains field day on a farm in Le Center when a problem arose. The ground was so dry and hard from weeks of drought that the stakes marking wheat and rye varieties wouldn’t go into the ground.
“The only way was to wiggle them into foot-deep cracks in the soil,” she says. “I didn’t realize how severe the drought was until then. I could see the effect on the plants.”
Manu is one of 10 college students discovering challenges and opportunities as agricultural summer interns for University of Minnesota Extension. (More students have Extension summer internships through 4-H.) Nathan Winter, Extension program leader, engages agricultural interns with one another through weekly meetings where they share ideas and learning, and through individual presentations at the end of the season.
Internships are a win-win situation
“Interns broaden the scope of what a local county educator like me can accomplish,” says Colleen Carlson, the local Extension educator supervising and mentoring Manu. “Abby handled communications for the field day, has met with a farmer to plan a dairy tour and is helping plan other events in Carver County.”
Maunu, a junior at the University of Minnesota Crookston pursuing an agricultural education degree, is from Glencoe. She aims to gain a network of resources and experience a wide range of Minnesota’s agriculture industry.
Extension’s “Celebrate Summer” 4-H program gives Maunu some variety in her work as she visits suburban community youth programs to teach agricultural literacy in fun ways. “The kids at a program in Chaska were especially excited to hold the chickens,” she says. “They didn’t realize that chickens can lay blue eggs. A few were so fascinated with them that they stuck around even after the rest of the group went out to play.”
Extension’s agricultural summer interns bring fresh ideas as they help with education, technical assistance, video and social media, curriculum support, and events.
Their contributions have been appreciated each of the 10 years the program has been running and are especially needed this year as Extension responds to the drought and other challenges. Their work has brought them eye to eye with concerned farmers and with Extension researchers and educators providing information.
Chris Connoy, from Minneapolis, works with the Pesticide Safety and Environmental Education program with Associate Director Linda Johns. He is interested to learn more about pesticides and how better safety measures can be used to help protect the people who use them.
Emily Hansen, from Buffalo, Minnesota, a senior at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities, works with Extension Educator Katie Drewitz, learning by going to site visits and taking horticultural assistance calls.
Elizabeth Krienke, from Lester Prairie, worked with Extension Equine Specialist Krishona Martinson. She chose this internship to immerse herself in all that livestock agriculture in Minnesota has to offer.
Emily Popp, from Royalton, worked with Extension Educator Nathan Drewitz. She says her passion for agriculture, learning the science and then sharing that information is a perfect fit for the internship in Extension.
Gwendolyn Roszel, from East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, worked with the Pesticide Safety and Environmental Education program with Associate Director Linda Johns. She edited training videos and instructional photos.
Kylee Sherod worked with Extension Educator Adam Austing in Wright County. Her work included a Kernza field day, maintenance of a cover crops plot, Wright County Fair events and social media.
Paige Vanderwerff, from Lodi, Wisconsin, worked with Extension Educator Melissa Runck in Pipestone and Murray counties. She focused on livestock, educational workshops, creating videos and working with youth projects.
Kendra Waldenberger, from Spring Grove, majors in agricultural communication and marketing, and animal science dairy production at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. She worked in Houston County with Extension Educator Mike Cruse.
Emilee Xayanourom, from Mountain Lake, attends the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, majoring in agricultural education. She worked with the Master Gardener Volunteer Program in Anoka County, working with Program Coordinator Lia Spaniolo. Before her internship began, she said, “I cannot wait to make and grow so many relationships and network with many people.”