Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lessons learned from "That Kid"

It’s been quite a while since I’ve last updated but honestly I’m not sure when I would have found the time. The last four weeks have been filled with 3 sets of overnight trips including Teen Conference, Kentucky Youth Seminar, and 4-H Camp. I’m tired, my suitcase is wore out, and I’ve learned enough to keep me up thinking at night. I could tell you all about these trips I’ve had the chance to experience –trust me I’ve got lots of stories and good times to go on for ages– but instead I’d like to talk about three kids who have made a big impact on my internship.

Now, I’m not sure if there’s always “that kid” on every trip that will make you scratch your head but that has sure been my experience this summer. For privacy sake, I won’t use any of these kid’s real names but you’re in for a long post so just hang tight!

The first experience came during Teen Conference back in the beginning of June. When we were leaving the Conference we had one kid, whom we’ll call “Larry” who couldn’t stop talking about the week. Larry is from the 4-H program at Fort Knox and normally the kids who are involved  there move around every couple years so connecting with them is different from connecting with the kids whose great-grandparents grew up in the same county and you go to church with their aunt. They aren’t the kids that join Cloverbuds at 6 years old and go through the program until they age out. Larry was one of these kids who moved a lot –he’s probably lived in more houses than I’ve owned shoes. He was a tad bit awkward and said some of the weirdest things. He wouldn’t even eat in front of other people at first but as the week went on he broke out of his shell. It still seemed like he bonded more with the other agents than he did the other kids but it was a start. This kid –who I’m pretty sure was forced to go on this trip- by the end of the week had talked to his family to find out when they were scheduled to move next and was asking all the other kids if they were coming back next year. His new dream is to get his Gold Award. I didn’t really grow up being involved with 4-H so while I knew 4-H helped out kids across the country, Larry gave me the chance to see firsthand how a four day trip can change a kid’s life.

After such a happy ending the week before, I expected the same thing to happen at our next trip four days later. This was the Kentucky Youth Seminar. It’s a 4-H sponsored, business based event in which soon-to-be seniors in high school would compete in different business oriented tests and scenarios for scholarships. Hardin County took two girls, one was a sweetheart, the other had absolutely no sense of manners. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll call this girl “Hanna”; she was hateful, rude, chewed with her mouth open, walked around barefoot in professional-dress functions, made a mess doing absolutely anything, showed no respect to anyone around her, and while you were talking to her she would put in her headphones and start reading her book. Based on the behavior she showed us, I really don’t have anything nice to say. The final day, Marla and I really wanted coffee but kind of feared Hanna’s reaction to our detour Quietly, we asked our two girls how they’d feel about stopping by to get a coffee, expecting a quick rejection but both happily agreed. We made a beeline for the coffee shop and on the way back, Hanna said “Thanks for taking us to get coffee.” Stunned, Marla and I couldn’t say anything for a moment. That thank-you felt enormous, like we had finally connected somehow. Later that day she won a scholarship and she showed a real smile and some true happiness. At that point I came to the conclusion that Hanna was just shy; that she was nervous this week and now that she had a scholarship she’d loosen up. I was ecstatic! That was until we got in the car on the way home and I asked if she had a good time. Hanna mumbled a “sure”, rolled her eyes and put in her headphones. Here’s the lesson I learned. Not every kid will give you a breakthrough but you can’t let that discourage you. You have to put your all in every kid and hope for the best because you never know who will surprise you.

 4-H camp was my latest experience. Now, I went to camp one year and had the rare, very bad experience which led me to never go back. I’m happy to report back that I actually had quite a bit of fun this past week and while I wouldn’t want to go back next week, I would say it has been my favorite week this summer. I taught an Outdoor Cooking class (which also became my Summer Project but that’s for another post) and I got to work with tons of kids including one from the county I’m interning with we’ll refer to as “Jimmy”. Jimmy was different from the other kids. He licked kids on the bus, at one point during the week he didn’t get his way so he ran to the other end of the field and laid face-down in the grass, he’d throw fits over tiny things, the last day he slapped another kid, and he’d look at you and say “I hate this” serious as can be. I put a lot of effort in Jimmy and realized you can’t use the same tactics with everyone. With most kids you can said “Will you please sit in your seat”, other campers require you to look them in the eye and say “Jimmy, sit down or you will not Sally tonight”. While he drove me nuts, I feel like we connected. He’d tell me about his Lego class, his Paper Crafts, Swimming Class, how much he loved making food, and took pictures in the photo booth with me. He didn’t like to Sally himself but he loved watching and I even got him to Sally with me once the last night. But after every time he’d tell anyone something was fun or cool he’d say “but I’m never coming back here. I hate it here!” with a cry in his voice. When his mom showed up to pick him up, he ran to her and I expected him to tell her some cool things he did but the first thing he said was “Mom! That was the worse week of my life!” That broke my heart but as I try to find the silver lining I realize that for some kids, when you take them to camp your goal is for them to have the best week of the summer. For other kids like Jimmy, your goal is to get them through the whole week. I can proudly say we accomplished that goal and while I’ll never get confirmation, I hope Jimmy’s mom gets some of his happy camp stories.

Not every kid a 4-H agent comes in contact with will be the happy story you’d expect. Sometimes, frankly, the actual occurrence is depressing but if there is one thing I’ve learned in the last month is that every kid has their own story. You have to put in what you can and hope and pray they make something good out of it. I know I impacted Larry this summer, and I can only hope that Hanna and Jimmy look back on their trips with some positive thoughts.


*Pictures omitted for the privacy of the 4-H’ers mentioned

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Busy Life of Extension

The Busy Life of Extension
                  
My first month and a half at the Daviess County Extension Office has been a busy one! Although I am an Agriculture and Natural Resource Intern, I have been working in all areas of Extension.  I have had the opportunity to attend 4-H banquets and camp, work at a local Fresh Market at the Owensboro hospital, spend a day with a plant pathologist looking at horticultural plant diseases, and so much more.  Through my experience with Extension I have learned and come to love that there is no one day like the other.  Every day I look forward to coming into the office to see and serve new faces throughout the community. 
                  
Below, I have listed and described some of the events I have taken part in this summer to give you an inside scoop on what is happening in the Daviess County Extension Office:

Plant Pathologist Visit
During the first few weeks of my internship I had the opportunity to spend the day with the Daviess County Horticulture Agent, Annette Heisdorffer, and the UK Extension Plant Pathologist, Dr. Emily Pfeufer.  We spent the day in west Daviess County looking at several producers’ vegetable crops including mostly peppers, tobacco, cabbage, and cucumbers.  I was surprised to learn how many acres of vegetable crops Daviess County produces! Dr. Pfeufer taught me many horticultural plant diseases that I know will be useful in the future as a county agent.    

Agent Training
A couple of weeks ago, Clint and I went to the Princeton Research Station for an agent training.  During training, we went out into the fields to learn about wheat diseases that county agents could be seeing soon.  The agents were also taught how to record applications for the 2015 Wheat Yield Contest and how farmers should be sidedressing corn.  The agent training was a great way for agents to be updated on what diseases could be seen in the fields and also what the agents should be doing throughout the summer months. 

Rooster Booster
The Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce hosts a Rooster Booster breakfast the first Thursday of every month.  Many businesses throughout Owensboro come together to see what accomplishments are being made in the community. It is also a great way for the people of Owensboro to see what events are coming up to be a part of.  Being an Owensboro native, I really enjoyed attending the Rooster Booster and it was even more exciting being able to represent the Daviess County Extension Office!

Fresh Market
Local food and produce is becoming very popular everywhere but especially in the Daviess County area.  I had the opportunity to attend a local event at the Owensboro Regional Hospital called “Fresh Market” to help advocate healthy eating and buying local food and produce.  The Daviess County Extension Office set up a booth to give out several Kentucky Proud recipe cards and samples of the famous “Watermelon Tomato Salad”.  It was a huge success!

Plot Plantings
One of the unique things that the Daviess County Extension Office does is variety trail plots.  Many farmers in Daviess County volunteer a portion of their land for the Extension Office to plant different varieties of seed for research.  Daviess County currently plants about 20 different corn and soybean variety trials. Since I have started working at the Extension Office I have been able to help with about 10 plots.  It has been great being able to go out in the agricultural community in Daviess County and meet farmers!

4-H Camp 
Although I am an agriculture intern, I had the 4-H Camp experience in Dawson Springs.  I had a great time with the kids during the week! I also had the opportunity to help the Daviess County 4-H Program Assistant teach a Mad Science class.  We performed several different science experiments with the kids and also made brain hats! Working with the 4-H program has been as awesome experience this summer and has opened my eyes about one day possibly pursuing a 4-H Extension position.  

                  
In conclusion, my summer here at the Daviess County Extension Office has been an excellent one for sure. I have had many opportunities and have learned so much in just weeks.  Being able to work in my home county has been such a blessing and I could not ask for a better internship experience. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the summer has in store for me! GO CATS! 

My Experience so Far

I am now a little over half way through this internship and I have been very fortunate and have gotten to work with 4-H, FCS, and ANR. I’ve really gotten to see several different sides of extension and become more familiar with areas I wasn’t aware even existed. This internship has been an incredible experience and has done nothing but reassure me that extension is where I want to be, it has however made me question which area of extension I want to be a part of. 4-H will always be something I love and enjoy being involved with, but Ag is also incredibly gratifying.  I’ve been working with Marion Counties Ag agent and going to farm visits and field days which have really shown me the impact extension can have on someone. Ag agents can help a struggling farmer to produce better products or increase their income just enough so they can survive when without extension the family farm might have gone under. Extension has real world impact, with 4-H you can help youth develop skills or help their confidence grow, FCS works to improve people’s lives through health, finance, and development of skills, and ANR helps people produce better products and improve practices. It is absolutely amazing all of the things that Cooperative Extension can do for people, but at the same time it’s also impressive how little most people utilize the services that extension provides. The people who do utilize extension are working to improve themselves in some way and the agents who provide their time and expertise want nothing more than for that person to succeed, and that’s why I want to be an extension agent.
The past seven weeks have been some of the most hectic weeks of my life but I have enjoyed every minute of it with the exception of spraining my knee, but other than that it has been absolutely amazing. I can honestly say that I never know what is going to happen the next day even though I have a calendar filled with events and programs that are planned weeks in advance; I just never know what will actually be going on until I walk in the office the next day. In fact last Wednesday my calendar said I would be in the office supervising a craft class, doing early entries for the fair, attending a program council meeting, and doing a program on the radio, in reality I was on the radio and attended the program council meeting, and spent the afternoon visiting dairy farms. It’s a good thing a keep a pair of jeans and work boots in my office because I don’t think my khakis and flip-flops would have cut it. My inability to know just what is happening next might be because I have been working with all of the agents in Marion County, but it seems that with extension there is always something unexpected happening and you have to just go with it. There is always something new and interesting happening, this is not a boring desk job. This job can be challenging and forces you to think and learn, which is another reason I want be an extension agent.    


Monday, June 29, 2015

Camp!

As a former staff member, of course I'm dedicating one whole blog post to 4-H Camp.  Last week, Mercer and Jessamine county attended North Central 4-H camp.  Camp has ALWAYS been a major part of my summer. (13 years actually.) But this year is taking it's toll on me because for the time in all of my camping experience, I will not be camping a J.M. Feltner 4-H in London.  Last week was the first time I had ever camped at NC. And let me tell ya, they are WAY different from other.

I felt like a first year camper last week because I had absolutely no clue where anything was at that camp. I was a little hesitant about attending a camp I had never been to before, but it turned out to be not so bad after all. So my advice, go in with an open mind and it'll make for a better week.

Mercer and Jessamine have an amazing camping program and my favorite part is how well they utilize Outpost. Those campers get a totally different experience from the rest and they bond with each other so much more.

I love camp. I will always love camp no matter what camp I go to in years to come. This will be the best week of your summer, in my opinion.  ��

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Life As A Double Agent: Part 2

           My favorite part of extension thus far: Everyday is different! When I go to the office I know that I will not be doing the same thing that I did the day before, in fact I will most likely do something that I have never done before. It is always an adventure! The best way for me to show you an example of that would be to give you a run down of my past two weeks. So here it goes.
           Day one of past two weeks. On the first day I worked with the FCS agent and the SNAP assistant on a nutrition class. This class takes place every other day, for three days, once a month and is focused on each part of MyPlate. Many women attend this class. These women have very different backgrounds and lives, but they all seem to enjoy the class. On the second day of the week I learned how to make homemade blueberry jam, blueberry cream cheese poundcake and can and freeze blueberries. Cooking has always been a favorite of mine, as well as eating, but I hadn't ever had the opportunity to make homemade jam or can. I truly loved this experience and look forward to doing more elaborate canning. On the third day we had another nutrition class. On the fourth day we went to Bowling Green to take part in a craft day with other surrounding county FCS Agents. At this craft day I learned to make alcohol ink tiles. I made the ink tiles in to a set of drink coasters for my sister and her fiancĂ©. They were super cute, fun and easy to make! On the fifth day we had another nutrition class. 
            The second week was a 4H Project Day camp. This week was literally crazy! We had around 25 children participate in day camp, the ages varied from 7-17. It can sometimes be a challenge to find things that can keep children occupied for seven hours straight with such a wide age range, but we were very successful and the children seemed to have a blast! So many things happened during this week that it will probably be easiest for me to sum up the week as a whole rather than by each day. We made TONS of crafts (which I absolutely loved)! A list of the crafts we made are as follows: silhouette paintings, alcohol ink tiles, random paintings on canvas, our own canvases, lamps, peg boards, birdhouses, wood burnings, plaques, pot holders, skirts and backpacks, para chord bracelets, and tie dye t-shirts. Aside from all the crafts we did we also cooked, baked and make ice cream. There were also many special guests there! We had local horse owners bring in their horses to teach about horse safety, education and give horse rides. There were lessons about the weather from a former local high school science teacher and also lessons about the trees and leaves from a local fish and wildlife conservationist. Each day I learned something new and went home exhausted! Although it was exhausting it was well worth it! Being an extension intern is hard work, but I am very lucky to have this opportunity and I truly love it. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Clovers, Cows and Champions

The last couple of weeks have been full of many different programs and events. Last Monday was the start of Fair Week and I got to help set of the Livestock barn and then later that day we opened floral hall to take entries for 4-H projects. The day ended with judging all the different entries, which is something that I have never done before. It is amazing to see all the projects the 4-Her's have done! The next day was the youth dairy show and I got to help do entries and keep placings in order. Wednesday was the open dairy show, poultry and rabbit show which I got to help prepare for some of the events that day. Friday I helped with weigh ins for the goats and got some great pictures of all the showman. The last day of Fair week was the Beef show and livestock sell which went really well.


 Monday of the this week I worked on an activity for the upcoming team meeting for camp. With this being my first time at camp it was really fun on Tuesday to meet all the teen volunteers and hear their past experiences.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Late Nights in Boone County

The past week and a half has been... "disjointed", I would say. The beginning of the week had me preparing for our Junior Counselor training. I planned a role playing activity so that the teens could react to situations and plan for difficulties while at camp. After this, I taught the roller coaster physics workshop that I will be doing at camp as well. The counselors enjoyed it immensely, and it was a great team building activity. The training lasted until around 8:30 PM, so I definitely got the full agent experience by being in the office from 8:00- 8:30.

I accompanied the agriculture agent to an equine field day on Tuesday. It was held in California Kentucky, and I assisted by identifying pasture weeds and speaking about them. This event lasted until 8:30 PM as well, and because of the drive I did not get home from work until 9:30 that evening. Needless to say, I was tired the next few days in the office.

This week has been much more routine, perhaps the calm before the storm of 4-H camp next week. I assisted one of the 4-H agents by picking up donated textiles at a resident's home, and I also made copies of some publications on carpet beetles, silverfish, and larder beetles. I am expecting the supplies for my project to come in any day now, and once they arrive I will be able to work on it during any sort of down time that I may have. I am doing an insect collection for the office to use when farmers or residents come in with insects to be identified. I think it will be a good tool for the office to have once I leave, and it will be an educational experience for me as I work on it.

Tonight I have the 4-H teen leadership club meeting, which I am looking forward to, and then the Boone County Farm Tour is on Saturday.

Until next week-