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UF/IFAS Extension agent helps two girls plant seeds in a garden

From Intern to Agent at UF/IFAS Extension

By Cassidy Dossin, UF/IFAS Extension Agent in Clay County (’19 animal sciences major)

My internship with UF/IFAS Extension in the summer of 2018 was pivotal in shaping my college experience and gave me direction in my pursuit of a career after graduation. In the fall semester of 2017, as a junior animal sciences major in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, I was anxious about not knowing the specifics of my career goals.

The internship requirement for my degree led me to the UF/IFAS Extension summer internship program. After consulting my professors and advisors, I reached out to a 4-H Agent in Escambia County, Brian Estevez, who was eager to host the county’s first intern.

Summer is Day Camp season for 4-H, which gave me a multitude of opportunities to develop programming and educate youth every week of my internship. One of the many UF/IFAS Extension lessons I learned during my experience was to “teach what you are passionate about.”

I brought in my knowledge and experience from judging teams, animal sciences classes, and even personal experiences, like livestock showmanship, into my lessons. When you’re excited to teach, programming comes easier, and your listeners will be more eager to learn.

My internship coordinating agent offered plenty of guidance and feedback after my presentations allowing me to improve. I came in with no programming experience, but I left my internship confident in my abilities to put together lessons and present them to an audience.

The entire staff at the Escambia County UF/IFAS Extension Office was extremely welcoming and eager to help me. I had a particularly diversified experience as I was able to communicate and work with agents in other areas and understand their roles in UF/IFAS Extension.

I aided the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in several of her programs and accompanied the Agriculture Agent on farm visits. I also had the opportunity to work with the Environmental Horticulture and Marine Science Agents when they taught at several of the 4-H Day Camps during the summer.

However, the 4-H agents and program assistant in Escambia County became significant mentors for me, navigating me through the ins and outs of UF/IFAS Extension and continuing to offer advice and encouragement as I graduated and pursued a position with UF/IFAS Extension.

Being a part of the UF/IFAS Extension community for one summer was enough to convince me that a career in this field would be enjoyable and fulfilling. After gaining valuable experiences and references through my internship, I have just recently started as the Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent in Clay County, and I look forward to aiding producers and developing programming to benefit the community.

If you are interested in applying for a summer 2020 internship with UF/IFAS Extension, I encourage you to apply by the Oct. 11 deadline now! Applications can be found on the CALS website.

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