AMES, Iowa — Whether working with 4-H, summer camps, fairs or in local communities, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach summer interns are making a contribution to Extension and Outreach educational efforts throughout Iowa.
Extension and Outreach county offices across the state use summer interns as assistants in a variety of ways. Terry Torneten is the regional extension director for Crawford, Carroll, Greene, Shelby, Audubon and Guthrie counties. He acknowledged the region’s summer assistants and the difference their work makes within the counties.
“We have a terrific group of summer program assistants working in our county offices. They handle many tasks that often go unnoticed because they are done so well. It is appropriate for us to offer them our appreciation as they assist with our task of carrying out the Extension and Outreach mission,” Torneten said.
Some of the things that the summer assistants do on a daily basis include preparing materials and judges boxes for shows during county fairs, leading day camp sessions on safety, environment, STEM and more, navigating activities for day camp participants to learn and helping solve a variety of everyday problems when needed.
Jacqueline Luckstead is a 4-H youth program specialist serving Benton, Jones and Linn counties. She said the summer interns for Benton and Jones counties were focused on Summer Science Discovery Day Camps during June. Due to budget constraints, this summer Linn County is relying on 4-H volunteers to help with fair preparations and are very appreciative of those who donate their time.
“One of the biggest benefits of having interns is being able to give them a task, big or small, that they have been trained to complete, not having to worry about it getting done, and knowing that there is still time to get ready for all summer events,” said Luckstead. “The interns are willing to help and are bright faces in the Extension and Outreach office during the summer.”
For a number of years the ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development program on campus has used student interns. State 4-H youth program specialist Mitchell Hoyer said the internships with 4-H at the state level are not just “go-fer” positions, but are huge professional experiences.
“Utilizing students as interns is a win-win all the way around,” said Hoyer. “For the 4-H program, both campus and field, it adds capacity in getting work done to continue to provide to current 4-H members. We have interns from a variety of colleges and universities, so for Iowa State it continues to strengthen partnerships between colleges. And for the students, it provides them a professional experience that looks great on resumes and offers hands-on opportunities.”
Hoyer explained that each year interns work with the communications, reservations and scheduling of events, recruiting and coordinating multiple tasks during the Iowa State Fair, and dealing with a variety of tasks with State Fair livestock. The interns also are at the State Fair all day, every day, serving as his key fair assistants. “We really put a lot of faith, effort and trust in our interns to carry out their tasks,” said Hoyer.
Sara Rockow, 4-H State Fair program intern, is a former 4-H’er and a recent University of Northern Iowa graduate. “Since I didn’t attend Iowa State, this internship has given me exposure to the campus as a whole, and I’ve learned more about Extension’s working relation with 4-H,” said Rockow.
“As a 4-H alumna, I knew I would love to experience Extension and Outreach from a work position. When I come to work, I feel I have the ability to give back to the 4-H program what it gave to me during my tenure.”
One of Rockow’s biggest responsibilities is managing and working with the 4-H volunteers for the State Fair. “Making sure our staff and volunteers are excited, prepared and loving their experience as an Iowa State Fair volunteer is definitely what I’m most excited about continuing to work on over the next couple of months.”
“It’s really easy to do the same event the same exact way year after year,” said Hoyer, “but young people have fresh ideas, different perspectives; anything that may make a tangible difference that could help in a big way. Young people help keep us young.”