University of Maryland Extension

Extension Internship Models 4-H Motto

Tommy Diffendal
Image Credit: 
Suzanne Radcliffe

Answer the phone, write curriculum, assist 4-Hers and their parents, and help implement 4-H leadership programs - all of these experiences were far from what I expected to be doing this summer. However, as I started this internship, I knew that I was given an opportunity to gain experience that would lead to a lifetime of knowledge and valuable workforce preparation.

Since I am a college student at Delaware Valley College, studying Agriculture Education, it is difficult for me to gain valuable experience while I’m attending school. So during the summer, while I’m not consumed with school work, I try to gain as much experience as possible. When given the chance to apply for the 4-H Extension internship, I knew that I couldn’t pass the opportunity up. Besides wanting the experience, I also wanted the chance to give back to the Carroll County 4-H Program because it had given me so much as I grew up. Through 4-H, I was able to develop life skills such as responsibility, compassion, decision making, and a hard work ethic. Because I know what 4-H is capable of providing for youth, I have decided to seek a career in it so that I can ensure that future youth are also able to gain the valuable life skills that I have obtained from 4-H.

As a part of this internship I was able to teach in schools and libraries, work with the Carroll County 4-H Ambassador Team, assist with the five 4-H camps, develop promotional material for the 4-H Program, help moderate for Horse Jamboree, teach public school students about 4-H’s Embryology Program, and aid in the facilitation of the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair. Throughout the internship, I was always interacting with 4-Hers, performing administrative duties, and attending various 4-H club events allowing me to gain a great sense of what the life of an Extension Agent is truly like. Additionally, much of what I did as a 4-H Intern also helped prepare me as an agriculture teacher. I was able to develop an entire week’s worth of curriculum for the county’s 4-H Clover Camp, create lesson plans for the library programs I taught, work with teens developing leadership skills, and co-facilitate 4-H programs with numerous parent volunteers. All of these skills become very useful as I enter the education job force within the next few years.

What I found most exciting about this internship was the ability that the 4-H Educators gave me to pick which 4-H programs I sought to participate in while I was an intern. Because of their willingness to let me pick, I was enabled to better familiarize myself and assist with 4-H programs that interest me such as Livestock Skill-A-Thon, Livestock Judging, Dairy Judging, Shooting Sports Camps, and STEM Projects. All of which, I now hold an even higher appreciation.

Looking back, I would certainly say that this internship has prepared me for the workforce more than any other job I have had. I most definitely would recommend this internship for anyone pursuing Extension or Agriculture Education as a career. Textbooks can certainly teach one a lot of information, but the best knowledge comes from experience. Encompassing the same ideology as the 4-H Motto, “Learning by Doing”, this internship helped me gain the experience I was seeking.

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