The Inaugural OSU Extension Internship



The inaugural OSU Extension internship was offered during the summer of 2020. This presentation represents the experiences and voices of the summer student interns. [Music] In the summer of 2019, leaders in Extension acknowledged that we were one of the few Extension services that did not have a formal statewide internship program and that we could do a better job of undergraduate engagement. That was the start of the Extension Internship Program at Oregon State University. In our early discussions, we really wanted to focus on what Extension had to offer the interns, not what work we could get our interns to do for us.

In February, I saw a job announcement for the internship and started contacting my office right away. Internship Locations: Although this summer wasn't what we expected, 10 students were still able to participate in the internships. We were located across nine counties: Clackamas, Coos, Crook, Extension and Experiment Station Communication, Grant, Lincoln, Tillamook, Umatilla, and Wasco. Together we represented seven different universities and ten unique majors. We were all doing a 10-week internship placed in a county and partnered with the supervising Extension faculty. At the beginning of the summer, we participated in an orientation to get introduced to Extension and our different tasks. Because we were all working virtually, it was really cool to see the different students during orientation.

Internship Experience: I entered this internship hoping to learn more about Extension as a career option, and I certainly got to during my many experiences of being a county Extension faculty member. I got to take the lead on social media posts for the county, which was new and exciting. I know I want to be an agricultural educator once I graduate, and it was great to have this experience this summer. I would recommend it to any student, especially those interested in Ag Ed. It was also a really nice bonus that we got paid.

Community Connections: Many students wrote in blogs that this summer was a great learning experience for them and a great place to make community connections. Daniela Vailla was most proud that she got to do work that was really impactful, like making a public service announcement about COVID and working on a COVID-19 contact tracing script that was trauma-informed, specifically connecting with migrant and seasonal farm workers. I was placed in the county with two interns, and together we were able to create STEM Saturday videos. These STEM Saturday videos were educational at-home STEM projects for students in the county. We researched different projects, wrote the scripts, and were able to record them in both English and Spanish.

Future Plans: This summer was certainly exciting, and we hope to be able to improve, implement, and grow the program for next year. One change we'd hope to implement is allowing students to take the lead on one Extension project of their interest so they can really get a feel for Extension programming. Next, we want to implement bi-monthly intern calls where students can engage and discuss their experience. Last, we hope to increase the number of student interns. This was a positive experience for all involved, and we'd like to thank the supervisors and administrative staff, as these internships would not be possible without them and the generous funding provided by the county Extension offices. The students who participate in the summer internships are potential stakeholders, program participants, and future Extension employees. Please consider supporting the program in 2021, and know that you have the opportunity to impact the next generation and future of Extension.

"Our intern was amazing. We could not have survived the 4-H fair without them, and we were very productive together. I was surprised at how innovative they were and all of the wonderful ideas they brought to the table."

Applications: If you want to invest in our and the future of Extension, contact Wiley Thompson letting him know your interest by January 15th. Applications will be going out in early February, and interviews will follow. We encourage you to consider your part in impacting the future of Extension by hosting an intern next summer.

"Before my internship, I had no previous experience with OSU Extension. I started my summer by diving into all the virtual meetings I could attend. By the end of the summer, I was working with local businesses on social media plans and the SNAP-Ed coordinator to generate ideas for reaching college students who receive SNAP benefits. Extension is such a great resource for the communities. I didn't know anything Extension did, but now I'm excited to tell people about it, even my family. I have younger twin sisters and have already told them to get connected with Extension. This internship has truly changed my future, and I am so grateful to have had this experience. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you."


Highlights of this new, innovative Extension internship program, focused on the interns’ amazing projects, partnerships, and lessons learned this summer. KJ showcases some of the student interns’ work, progress, and objectives—which span across all counties and program areas, shares how hosting organizations benefit from this work, and discusses why introducing Extension to a diverse group of students can make a more fruitful future for Extension. KJ Knight, Instructor, Agricultural Education and Agricultural Sciences

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