Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Big Finale

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind. Since my classes did not start back until August 24th, I talked to my agent and got my internship extended 2 weeks so that I could help with the State Fair. I have made two long trips to Louisville so far and have seen first hand all that goes into making the State Fair a success. Like we discussed at round up, agents are very very good at improvising, which happens a lot at state fair. Agents also have to be super organized in order to get all of the information needed for state fair entries.

Tomorrow is the day I've been dreading all summer; it is the last day of my amazing internship. While I am sad that it is coming to an end, I am so glad to have had this great opportunity with the Breathitt County Extension Office. Even though I have come from a different background being an accounting major, being a 4-H intern this summer has opened my eyes to all of the things that extension offers. While I'm not sure what's in store for my future, I hope that it has something to do with extension, whether it be an accountant in their financial department, a 4-H agent, or just a volunteer.

Friday, August 14, 2015

My Last Day

            The dreaded day is finally here: the last day of my summer extension internship. This summer has been a great one thanks to working at the Ohio County Cooperative Extension Office. I could never have imagined what this summer would mean to me, nor how it has impacted my outlook on life. The best part about this job has without a doubt been the people I work with. I’ve known my 4-H agent and program assistant since I was a toddler and working with them has been like working with family. Over the course of the summer, I’ve also gotten closer with the other agents and office staff. They have all always been a joy to work with and have made this summer an exciting and rewarding experience. Their encouragement and support of my desire to be a 4-H agent has helped me to work hard at my job and not be afraid of reaching for my goals.  Overall, they’ve helped me to move closer towards my dream job.
I’ve always said my dream job was to be a 4-H agent, and being an intern, I have lived out a part of my dream. I knew this summer as an intern would either make or break my drive to be a 4-H agent. It has only increased my passion for the 4-H program and confirmed my desire to be a 4-H agent. Nothing this summer has been sugar-coated; my agent was honest about the difficult and sometimes tedious part of being an agent. However, these lessons haven’t dissuaded me, but they have taught me they are necessary and they help to create a gratifying job. However, the most fulfilling part of working with Cooperative Extension is seeing the effect you can make on people’s lives and the community through education. Cooperative Extension Service is a unique program that has a widespread impact on everyone it reaches. It has been an honor to work for such an organization and I hope I get the chance to again in the future.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Project: Ag Appreciation Night

                  To wrap up my internship at the Daviess County Extension Office I hosted Ag Appreciation Night at Friday After 5 in downtown Owensboro on the river front.  This event was a huge success! During the course of the summer I had been working to get several local Owensboro/Daviess County agricultural businesses to come out to Ag Appreciation Night to set up a booth to tell their agricultural story and what they contribute to the community.  Along with vendors, I also had some farm machinery set up for display.  Once everything was set up downtown last Friday night, I knew all of my hard work had paid off.  The river front looked fantastic!
                  At the beginning of the summer when I learned about this project I was overcome with excitement.  Organizing events such as these has always been one of my favorite things to do and this event was even better because I got to display what a great agricultural community Daviess County/Owensboro is.  Planning Ag Appreciation Night gave me the opportunity to put my organizational, communication, and marketing skills to good work.  Contacting the agricultural vendors in Daviess County/Owensboro was a great way to network with individuals in the community and create relationships that will be of benefit to me in my future career. By creating the Ag Appreciation Night logo, registration form, and other marketing tools I was able to excel in many computer programs as well. 
                  Overall, being able to put on this event was such a unique and rewarding experience.  I would not have been able to do it without the amazing support from the Daviess County Extension Office, the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, and Daviess County Farm Bureau.  I have grown as a person in so many ways after all of my internships with Cooperative Extension and I know that this is the career for me!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Daviess County Agriculture: My Home, My Heritage

My name is Lauren Settles and I have had the opportunity to intern with the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Service this summer.  I am currently a senior at the University of Kentucky studying Plant and Soil Science with minors in Animal Science and Agricultural Economics.  Being able to come home to Daviess County and intern with the Cooperative Extension Service has made for a great summer.  I have been able to return home and spend time with family and friends while also pursuing an excellent internship. 
The Cooperative Extension Internship Program has given me many opportunities not only this summer, but also the past two summers.  In the summer of 2013, I had the opportunity to intern with the Henderson County Cooperative Extension Service.  In the summer of 2014, I interned with Dr. Chad Lee, the Grain Crops Specialist for the University of Kentucky.  Working with the Cooperative Extension Service for the past three summers has led me to many educational opportunities and has prepared me for a career in the agricultural industry. 
The Cooperative Extension Service plays a big role in every sector of the agricultural industry.  I have been fortunate enough to work in all program areas of Cooperative Extension during my internships and see how each program area contributes to not only the agricultural community, but also the community as a whole.  I have been able to be involved with and attend many programs this summer in the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Office including 4-H Camp at Dawson Springs, cooking classes, 4-H day camps, the Daviess County Lions Club Fair, agricultural meetings, and many more activities. 
Although I have been working in all program areas of Cooperative Extension, my focus area this summer has been agriculture and natural resources.  I have been fortunate enough to shadow Clint Hardy, the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources, and learn what he does in his role.  While working with Clint this summer, I have planted Daviess County research and demonstration plots, attended University of Kentucky field days at the Princeton Research Station, assisted with agricultural programs such as the Farm Succession Seminar, and visited many farms in Daviess County.  One of my favorite aspects of the Cooperative Extension Service is being able to work with many people throughout the community, majority of those being farmers. 
Growing up on a family farm in Stanley, KY gave me an appreciation for all the hard work agriculturalists carry throughout the community every day.  Without the dedication they have, people would not have food to put on their plates every evening, fuel to put in their cars, etc.  Knowing this is the main reason I decided to study and pursue a career in the agricultural industry.  I wanted to be able to contribute to all the hard work being done daily and advocate the industry that I grew up around, so what better way to get a head start than to intern with the Cooperative Extension Service. 
This summer I have been able to advocate agriculture through my internship project, which has been an event called “Ag Appreciation Night”.  Throughout the summer the Davies County Cooperative Extension Service along with the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and the Daviess County Farm Bureau have been planning “Ag Appreciation Night” to take place at Friday After 5. This event is being held in efforts to show and explain how big of a role the agricultural industry plays just right here in the Daviess County/Owensboro area.  There will be many agricultural businesses from right here in Daviess County making their presence to show what they do for the community.  I cannot wait to post about how big of a success this event was!
In conclusion, I would like to say thank you to the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Service for such a great summer.  Working with Clint and all of the staff at the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Service has helped me gain experiences and skills that will benefit me in my future career. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Until we meet again, Extension...

It's crazy how fast this Summer has gone. I know the first week I came here, I was a nervous wreck. I knew I wanted to do the best job possible but I didn't yet know how I was going to do that. The first few weeks went slow , just trying to find my place in the Garrard County office. I may have even used the word "boring". I can laugh at that now! This summer has been anything but boring. I've done things I never thought I would be able to and used my own skills in ways I didn't know I could. Extension is very rewarding. This is my last week and I will go back to school in two. Though, I'm ready to catch up on laundry and get my head in a student state-of-mind, I'm not sure how I feel about not coming here every morning. It's very bittersweet but I've learned so much that I can take with me from each and every person in this office.

The question was asked at the Round up : " What did you do this Summer that you never thought you would?" . I thought about that a little more on the ride home and the truth is, I never thought I'd be interested in working in Extension. I'm a Junior at Eastern Kentucky University majoring in Agribusiness Management. I saw myself working in the financial world , with an office and possibly a suit. Then I got the opportunity to apply for the Internship and I had flashbacks of my 4-H days. I absolutely loved 4-H as a kid but I had truly forgotten what it had meant to me to be able to enter things in the fair, or take a lamb to the show, or learn to sew with my friends and pretend we were fashion designers. My mind began to change. After working in the retail world for 5 years and changing my major a couple hundred times, this one sort of snuck up on me and I really wanted to know if this is something I could take on. So when I found out I was able to intern at Garrard County , I was ecstatic! I did learn a lot about my community and the things that are going on in the County very quickly but mostly I learned my own strengths and weaknesses.

I sound like an old Granny when I say, your twenties are a rough age. But Its a complicated time! I'm finishing up school and trying to decide what in the world I can do with my degree. I want a job I can enjoy but also maintain my small family. It's a scary time too, the world of possibilities is endless but yet there's an end. So to be honest, I don't think we ever know what we're doing. So, the best part about this internship is that I'm no longer struggling to find out what I want to do with my life. I want to be a 4-H agent. Plain and Simple. Things may take a different turn come graduation day and life is so unexpected but given the chance to spend time with these kids and see how excited they are to learn new things I feel at home with making 4-H Agentdom a goal for my life. I know its long hours, steamy camp days, and sometimes difficult parents but its very rewarding to be able to teach a kid a "forgotten art" like cooking or growing vegetables. I think our world would be a much better place if we were all a little more self sufficient and 4-H programs teach kids lifeskills to be just that. 4-H also inspires kids to develop hobbies and talents and I know I want to be the one to help them do that.

This has been an amazing experience and I truly appreciate the opportunity. It's going to be strange waking up Monday morning with nothing to do but I've got a lot of good stories, new skills learned and new relationships with some fine people from my hometown. I also have a list of things I'm going to need for Christmas now, if you guys can get word to my husband: a canner, a sewing machine, a way better camera, a barn quilt, some paint, a kayak, a lamb and an application for the Summer 2016 Extension Internship :)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Ending the week in Style

This is my last week working as a 4-H intern in extension at Shelby County and it has been very busy and fun. I started the week out with our Food-A-Rama competition and had 11 kids enter many wonderful dishes. I also got to work on putting together the cookbook from each dish we had entered in Food-A-Rama. We even put in recipes from past competitions and I cannot wait to try them out!

 Although this is my last week and will not get to go to back to school bashes and school clubs int the county, I did get to help out on making a wooden clover that can be taken to these events to promote 4-H in schools. They even let me use power tools and paint!

I also got to help out with Kids in the Kitchen on the 30th of July. At the event kids go to different stations and make different foods, learn how to wash their hands and food safety. At my station I got to show the kids how to make butter, which is very fitting since I grew up on a dairy farm.

I have say working in extension has been a great experience and I have learned so much from the wonderful staff here!

Harrison County Extension: Part 4

I have been able to learn a lot about myself this summer through the Extension Internship Program. While I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into, there were things I was expecting to like that I realized wasn't exactly what I thought they would be and vice versa. Here are 5 things I learned about myself this past summer.

1. Not all 4-Hers are like the livestock judging kids. I have been a volunteer livestock judging coach for around four years now. I have enjoyed it a lot and one of the most rewarding parts of being a coach is the relationships built with the judging kids and watching them improve as a judge. I was used to being around these kids and knew how to work with them, but I soon found out not all kids are like these. The different groups of 4-Hers were all unique in their own way and it was a challenge for me to have to figure the different groups out quickly so I would know how to educate them and keep their attention.

2. It is okay to cut loose and act like a kid every now and then. 4-H camp was what I dreaded the most about this internship. I did not enjoy it all too well when I tried it out as a first year camper. The only person to blame for that is myself, because I was a shy kid that didn't really want to break out my shell at that time. I would be lying if I said that I was miserable at camp the entire time this go around. The mud wars we had at camp were unique to that week because of all the rain we had. During the brawl that it was, I noticed everyone, young and old(er), wasn't worried about keeping up a certain image. Everyone was having a good time literally rolling in mud holes like livestock. It was nice for me to realize that life doesn't have to be taken seriously all the time.

3. It takes an army. There are so many behind the scenes actions that have to take place for an event or program to happen. I think most people see the agents at an event and think that all they do is show up to places, but there is a ton of coordinating and meetings that have to happen for something to be successful. Agents do a lot of work that goes unnoticed and unappreciated in some cases. Even more so, the volunteers are saints for what they do. If it weren't for them, most of the events we had this summer would not have been able to happen.

4. The Harrison County community supports Extension. I grew up in the 4-H program and we sold vegetables in the Farmer's Market when I was young, but it wasn't until being in the office and seeing the people and taking the calls that I realized how many people appreciate the services the extension agents provide. The agents will also drop what they are doing and go out of their way to help a member in the community. They also work together well and aren't too proud to learn something from each other or a member in the community. The staff here is great and I felt like I was at home from the first day I worked here. I have also built some relationships of my own with members of the community that I wouldn't have otherwise without working with extension.

5. I could Extension as a career option for me in the future. I really enjoyed working on the Agriculture and Natural Resources projects and could see that being a good fit for me in the future. I also could see myself applying for a youth livestock coordinator position, or maybe a beef specialist job as well. One thing I am sure of is that I see how much the people in an agricultural community appreciate what extension does, and I would love to be apart of that one day.

I can't say enough good things about the staff here in Harrison County. They seem like family to me as my internship comes to a conclusion. They have all taken an interest in my future and have answered any questions I've had about extension, or life for that matter, and told me like it is rather than saying what they think I want to hear. While I am excited to start my job in South Dakota on Eagle Pass Ranch, I will miss working with the people here in Cynthiana and Harrison County.