N.C. Cooperative Extension Intern Reflects on Experience
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By Gabby Whorley, summer intern with the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Caldwell County Center
My name is Gabby Whorley and I am a senior at North Carolina State University majoring in Animal Science and minoring in Extension Education. I am also a Caldwell County native, and I graduated from Hibriten in 2017.
This summer I was able to be the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Caldwell County Center intern. I was given the opportunity to work closely with Sarah Moyer, the 4-H agent, to help her facilitate and lead summer exploring programs. (Caldwell County 4-H is a member agency of United Way.) I was allowed to participate as a facilitator with several programs including Steps to Health Kids Club, Cloverbud Corner, Focus on Photography, Walk the Appalachian Trail, and Ask A Farmer, as well as participate in other professional development activities.
With Steps to Health Kids Club, I was able to experience my first online virtual program. Steps to Health Kids Club was an online virtual program offered through SNAP-Ed. It teaches youth about nutrition and healthy living. This was a great opportunity for me to observe how Zoom can be used for virtual programs.
I also had the privilege of teaching the youth about dairy products and where their milk comes from. I am very passionate about dairy cattle and teaching youth and adults all about them, so I felt being allowed to share my passion for dairy with these youth was an awesome opportunity.
Additionally, I helped facilitate and observe Cloverbud Corner. Cloverbud Corner is a program for youth ages 5-8 that involves fun educational activities. This was a great opportunity for me to work with Junior Leaders, who are older 4-H members who volunteer with younger ones.
We had two Junior Leaders with Cloverbud Corner, and they did an awesome job leading this program! This online virtual program allowed me to get hands-on experience with running zooms and getting acquainted with all of its many tools.
Focus on Photography was an opportunity for me to watch Sarah directly teach a program that she has expertise in. Focus on Photography was a program for youth that taught them how to take great photos. In addition, I learned how to utilize older youth leaders within 4-H to help with teaching. I also got to observe Sarah as she was able to switch an online virtual in-person program to an online self-taught program.
The opportunity to participate in Walk the Appalachian Trail allowed me to learn about an App used to connect with youth called Remind. Walk the Appalachian Trail was a virtual program that tracked how many steps each participant was walking each week and then compiled them all together to see how far the group walked. The Remind app allows one to connect with youth through text messages in a safe and effective way. Additionally, I was able to make graphics to send out in these messages to serve as reminders for the youth.
Ask a Farmer was my personal favorite program from this summer. This program was created so that local youth could virtually tour local farms, get to know local farmers, and ask local farmers questions. Caldwell County 4-H went and visited local farmers to take photos and videos to share with youth. I really enjoyed going out and visiting our local farmers!
With this program, I learned how to use Flipgrid so that we could share the photos and videos we took with local youth. Flipgrid is an app used to share educational videos with specific groups. Flipgrid will be a great tool for me to use in the future and I am very glad to gain experience with it. I really enjoyed being able to help in teaching local youth about agriculture and meeting some of our local farmers.
Sarah gave me the opportunity to develop and teach a new program called Kickin Nutrition TV. This was an online virtual program that teaches youth about healthy eating and living through interactive videos and activities. I created lesson plans and activities to go along with each lesson. This opportunity to practice planning and developing programs was a great learning experience. Something else I learned from this program is that not all programs, especially ones online, will have the typical engagement form participants.
Another opportunity I had was learning how to write news releases. New releases are articles written with the purpose of sharing newsworthy information to the general public. Sarah Moyer taught me so much about journalism and how to write better in general. These newly learned skills will be very helpful in school as well as in my future professional career.
One of my professional development projects this summer was to create a needs assessment for our local youth. A needs assessment is a process used to determine needs by collecting data and analyzing it. I learned so much about needs assessments and how to conduct them, as I had never conducted one before. Learning how to collect data and communicate with other local youth-serving agencies will be extremely beneficial to me in my future career.
I conducted the needs assessment using data from the four major youth-serving agencies in the county, 4-H, Communities in School, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts. There is currently 549 active youth in 4-H, which is 3.3% of youth in Caldwell County. Communities in Schools served 4,986 Students, which is 30.2% of youth in Caldwell County. Boy Scouts was not allowed to share data with me due to ongoing lawsuits against the organization. There are 134 youth enrolled in Girl Scouts, which is 0.8% of youth in Caldwell County. From the data, I collected I learned that only 34.3% of youth In Caldwell County are participating in either 4-H, Communities in Schools, or Girl Scouts. That means around 5,665.6 youth in Caldwell County are being served by these youth agencies. I concluded that there are not many youth-serving agencies in Caldwell County and the ones that are present have very little participation.
Lastly, I am very thankful that Sarah gave me a walkthrough of the Extension Reporting System or ERS. I have always heard of ERS but had never actually seen it. Sarah walked me through each component of it, so in the future when I am a new Extension agent I will have a small advantage, as I already know what the system looks like and how to operate it.
I am very thankful to have had the opportunity of completing this internship. I have learned so many different skills that will benefit me in my personal as well as professional life. This internship has made me even more excited about my future career as I have found something that I truly love and enjoy.