This summer, Zyreshia Jackson, a UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences student studying family, youth and community sciences, completed an internship at the UF IFAS Bay County Extension Office in Panama City, FL. When she found out about this opportunity, Jackson knew she wanted to experience it before graduating. As an extension intern, Jackson was welcomed to the team and worked on various projects, playing an integral role in making the programs successful. She specifically worked with the 4-H Youth Development program and 4-H Military Partnership.
Extension is an organization that exists as a partnership between state, federal and county governments to provide scientific knowledge and expertise to the public. At the University of Florida, Extension is housed in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, though there are statewide locations in every county throughout Florida. Throughout this internship, Jackson built curricula and trainings, edited videos for various projects, helped with events and developed program evaluations. Because of the community-focused aspect of Extension, being aware of the community’s concerns is crucial. Jackson assisted with community outreach and connected with the community by attending meetings for the Bay County Juvenile Justice Council and Rebuild Bay. Rebuild Bay focuses on efforts that can be done in Panama City to help rebuild the community after the destruction caused by Hurricane Michael and to build a more resilient community.
Courses in family, youth and community sciences were beneficial to Jackson as she used her knowledge gained in class about youth development to effectively build age-appropriate and engaging activities. She used her understanding of communities and community theories to aid in community outreach and projects to connect and provide resources to the community. She also worked to find ways for families and parents to get involved in the summer camps to provide educational experiences for the family whole unit.
During the internship, she developed and facilitated a training for 4-H educators. The training focused on Social Emotional Learning and resilience, which were both topics she learned about through her coursework in family, youth and community sciences. Her classroom exposure to evaluation and research was useful as she worked with the Bay County 4-H Military Partnership to build an IRB-approved evaluation for the trainings. Everything she learned about interpersonal and collaborative skills through her courses helped her interact with other agents, partners and community members.
Jackson’s favorite part of her internship was working with other individuals. She enjoyed the hands-on approach to working in the community and collaborating with other agents and partners on the various projects she was involved in throughout the summer. She especially loved working with the youth, getting to know them, and finding new ways to engage with them in sessions. She found this opportunity valuable in helping her learn more about the community and find ways to use extension to address the concerns of the community. Jackson said, as a black first-generation college student, she faced many unknowns and uncertainties, but from this internship, she learned how to have more confidence in her skills and knowledge.
“Coming into this experience, I had a lot of doubts and fear, but I can truly say that I have grown professionally and personally. Being a student and especially an intern, a lot of time you downplay your role and what you can contribute. This internship helped me to realize, no matter your position, everyone is a part of the organization’s success.” – Zyreshia Jackson
After completing this summer internship, Jackson graduated with her bachelor’s degree in family, youth and community sciences. Her next chapter will take her to Texas A&M University to pursue her master’s degree in public service and administration at the Bush School.
The family, youth and community sciences major prepares students to address predictable human development changes, unpredictable events such as natural disasters and persistent problems such as poverty and nutrition. Family, youth and community sciences students study sociology, psychology, and economics as well as advances topics in youth, family and community development. For more information about career planning and assistance preparing to secure an internship of your own, visit the CALS Career Planning webpage.