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From Student to Teacher

(This blog post is second in a series recounting a summer internship opportunity for the author. Collaborating with Martin County 4-H Youth Development and Florida Sea Grant extension agents, this account provides a unique perspective on the career development of young adults into UF/IFAS Extension professionals.)

Extension’s Reach

After a successful first week of the Junior Water Academy, I can confidently say that I am becoming more acquainted with the inner workings of UF/IFAS Extension. Yet there is always more to learn! Understanding and promoting Extension is important for continued public awareness about its value. Along the way, I hope to communicate its role in our communities. It is also important to simply introduce the entity to others so that it can become a familiar resource. When I originally told my friends and family, I was working with 4-H, a few of them said, “I thought 4-H was with horses.”  Not entirely…

UF/IFAS Extension literally serves as a community outreach arm of the University of Florida. The research information is made available to people throughout all 67 counties in the state. These outreach ambassadors, called Extension Agents, deliver the information and additional knowledge to the community around them. They are specialists who create programs pertaining to their field of work, such as human and natural resources and agriculture.

Week One Fun

Just like 4-H, an internship is all about learning by doing. I am familiarizing myself with some of the more advanced topics related to water quality. Whether I am working in the office helping to organize lesson plans, or observing in the classroom, I am getting ready to step away from the background and into the foreground. As we progress through the Junior Water Academy, we will be tying all topics back to the concerns that we face with Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie River, the Indian River Lagoon, and our other waterways.

A primary goal of the Junior Water Academy is to educate to change daily practice. Therefore, our first week began with the water cycle. This topic lays a foundation for the rest of the curriculum, as it is important to understand how water on Earth will never be new – always recycled. This week, youth eagerly answered questions, danced to the water cycle song, and left the room showing off their water cycle bracelets.

As I have stepped away from the role as a student for the summer and into the role as teacher, I can see the importance of participation and engagement. Effective Engagement Focuses on Getting Students to Care talks about the importance that engagement has on a child’s mental and emotional development. By facilitating hands-on activities, students can demonstrate their knowledge and skills. In turn, this allows us to measure the effectiveness of the lesson. While teaching is somewhat new to me, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from my mentor Agent, one of the most enthusiastic and engaging teachers I have ever known.

by Madison Borman, University of Florida CALS Intern

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