kayak on lake in Florida

Soil and Water Summer Experience – Heather Surratt

The Soil and Water Sciences Department is offering students the chance to blog about their summer experience. The students enrolled in one of three courses over the summer, for which they received credit: SWS 4905-Individual Work, SWS 4911-Supervised Research in Soil and Water Science, and SWS 4941
Practical Work Experience. This is Heather Surratt’s summer experience:

College student on boat holding jug of lake water

Heather Surratt making an instructional video for LAKEWATCH in Sumter County. (photo provided)

My name is Heather Surratt and I am majoring in Environmental Management in Agriculture and Natural Resources. This summer, I worked for UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County Extension.

I completed a multitude of tasks during my internship. My first responsibility was to update the Sumter UF/IFAS website. My two tasks were to make it user-friendly and to add new pages to include all departments. I did this by reviewing the current website and then collaborating with the seven Extension agents. The goal was to develop pages that were easy to use and captured the essence of the different program areas.

My second responsibility was to increase Sumter’s social media presence. The goal there was to create a larger outlet that draws traffic to EDIS publications and blog posts. I streamlined marketing for events by making it easier for agents to update the public on upcoming events. While I was there, I also helped instruct multiple camps, organize garden workdays, and attended many classes.

Learning Experience

I am so thrilled that having an internship is part of my degree curriculum. It allowed me to gain work experience in my future career field and network with agents from many counties. I feel that building up my skill set makes me a better-qualified candidate for employment with UF/IFAS.

A great part of this internship was reviewing the employee packets that contain the Report of Accomplishments & Plan of Work. I learned what it takes to have a successful career and that it is important to have a broad range of publications. Setting measurable goals using the logic model and how to follow through to accomplish those goals is also important. As I finish my degree, I will keep these things in mind and work towards contributing meaningful content to the public.

College student tending to a flower garden

Heather Surratt pruning plants during a Master Gardener workday. (photo provided)

Much of my coursework prepared me to help individuals understand the results of their soil tests from UF/IFAS. I was able to take much of my knowledge from my course work and sum it up into digestible content that the public can understand. I was taught how to garden in elementary school at my local Youth Center garden by Master Gardeners. Who knew that years later I would be organizing a Master Gardener workday with those same Master Gardeners!

Before my academic advisor sent me this internship application, I didn’t know that IFAS existed. None of my family had heard of it before. Even after I applied, I had to look up what IFAS was. I think this is a spectacular program with enormous potential for solutions for your life.