Meet the 2016 Rising Star Interns

2016 Rising Star Interns

Hello! The Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach Rising Star Interns are back for another summer in Northwest Iowa. This is the Rising Star Internship’s third year of existence, and we are excited to continue working with local foods. During the summer, each of us will be posting about our activities and individual projects. Our job description is below for you to learn more about what a Rising Star Intern does and what to look forward to in the blog this summer:

This summer as Rising Star interns we will focus on a multi-disciplinary issue where the potential is significant for measurable impact. Regional Food Systems is the focus for 2016. This topic includes science, technology, design, statistical analysis, economic development, engineering, life and environmental sciences, entrepreneurship, nutrition, health and wellness, marketing, teaching, and human services. Each intern will be part of a team that works closely with ISU Extension and Outreach to work on an individual project and develop a model program for Iowa. During this project we will identify benchmarks, develop goals, implement a strategic plan, and in the end evaluate outcomes. Rising Star interns will gain valuable skills in working as a team member by collaboratively setting goals and carrying out a plan of work that achieves predetermined outcomes. We will be personally challenged by being removed from the familiar campus environment. We will gain confidence in our own skills by interacting with citizens, organizations and agencies in a new and unfamiliar community, and gain knowledge about the land grant system and be exposed to careers in Extension and Outreach work.

We will be working in two different teams in Northwest Iowa. Carissa, Christel, and Emily will be in Region 1( Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Sioux, O’Brien, and Clay counties), while Jade and Cali will be in Region 5 (Plymouth, Woodbury, and Monona counties.) Check out our individual bios below! 

Region 1

Region 1 Rising Star Interns

Carissa Brown

Carissa BrownSenior in Dietetics at Iowa State University.
From Boone, Iowa

Carissa Brown was a 9 year 4-H member in Boone County where she was very active at the club, county, state, and national level.  Brown was excited to hear about the Rising Star Internship because of her past involvement in 4-H and interest in nutrition education. As a Rising Star Intern, she looks forward to educating children about nutrition through fun games and activities that will increase knowledge of healthy foods.  In the future, Brown hopes to become a Registered Dietitian and work with children in a clinical or community setting.  At Iowa State University she keeps busy as a member of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority, Cardinal Key Honor Society, Student Dietetics Association, Phi Upsilon Omicron Honor Society, Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society, and Rho Lambda Honor Society.  Brown holds leadership roles in her sorority, Cardinal Key, and Phi Upsilon Omicron. In her free time, Brown enjoys reading, being outside, and spending time with friends.


Christel Gustafson

Christel GustafsonSenior in Nutritional Science at Iowa State University
From White Bear Lake, Minnesota

​Christel Gustafson has always had an interest in food and nutrition, and how it affects the body. She also loves to help people. Finding a way to combine these two interests led Gustafson to the Rising Star internship. She is looking forward to meeting new people and learning more about ISU Extension and Outreach. During her time as a Rising Star intern, Gustafson plans to work in the community to improve bagged lunch nutrition. Christel plans to graduate from Iowa State University and work with companies to promote workplace wellness focusing on nutrition. In her free time, Gustafson works at a café on the Iowa State campus, is an active member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, and enjoys painting, hanging out with friends, and playing with her dog. 


Emily Dornath

Emily DornathJunior in Graphic Design at Iowa State University
From Pocahontas, Iowa

Emily Dornath was a 4-H member for 9 years. Her experience in the 4-H program and other Extension and Outreach events promoted her interest in being a part of the Rising Star internship program. During her time as a Rising Star intern, Emily wants to create a handbook for vendors that provides information and tips for marketing at farmers markets and how to create an attractive selling space. Her long term goal is to graduate from Iowa State University and find a job in her field. Emily enjoys being an active member of the Network Against Human Trafficking club at ISU, working at a campus cafe, listening to music, and photography.

Region 5

Region 5 Rising Star Interns


Jade Jensen

Jade JensenSenior in Dietetics at Iowa State University
From Bettendorf, Iowa

Hello, my name is Jade Jensen and I am a Rising Star Intern for Region 5. This summer I will be working with the program Flavors of Northwest Iowa along with conducting my own research project. For my project I plan to more efficiently bring the local producers of region 5 to the consumers. I plan on doing this by creating producer profiles and highlighting specific recipes that uses the foods or products sold by that producer. My goal is to better educate the consumers on the foods they are buying and provide them with more ways to prepare and eat them. I am thrilled to be spending my summer in Region 5 and cannot wait to get started and see where this summer will take me!


Cali Westergard

​​​​​​​Cali WestergardSophomore in Kinesiology and Health at Iowa State University
From Ireton, Iowa

Hello, my name is Cali Westergard, I am one of the Rising Star Interns for Region 5 in Northwest Iowa. Over the course of this summer I will be working with the Flavors of Northwest Iowa program along with implementing my own individual project. I plan to create multiple video shorts that highlight a local producer and their products. The video will have a clear description of where the producer is located, what they sell, and their story/history. I want to help people find resources so they can buy local and know where exactly their food is coming from! My hope is that these videos will help boost people's creativity in the kitchen. I am very excited for this summer and the many opportunities it holds.