My Summer Internship at Pinellas County Extension
2012 UF/IFAS Intern
An internship is a great way to get a hands-on taste of what a certain company or agency has to offer. While some internships provide a spectators view with busy work, there are others that immerse you in the field. My internship at Pinellas County Extension was the latter.
I am currently a senior at the University of Florida, studying Sustainability and the Built Environment and Political Science. This summer I was the Sustainable Living Intern for Pinellas County Extension and I spent a majority of my time working with Libby Carnahan, the Sea Grant Extension Agent, at Weedon Island Preserve. Working with the Sea Grant Extension Agent has been a rewarding experience, as I have been able to develop an understanding of coastal resilience. Although I am a native of Pinellas County (born and raised in Largo), I never really appreciated (or understood) the concept of coastal sustainability!
I spent roughly eight weeks with Extension and I experienced a little of everything from sitting at the Lawn and Garden desk conversing with the Master Gardener Volunteers to canoeing the mangrove tunnels of Weedon Island. I dug up sweet potatoes at the 4H garden, helped host a hurricane preparedness workshop, and attended a nutrition class geared towards a group of adults getting their lives on the right track. The public certainly appreciated the classes, events, information and resources provided by Extension. At a rain barrel workshop, the ecstatic attitudes were demonstrated in more people showing up than we had barrels. Other participants were excited to meet like-minded people. One attendee said she was so happy to see so many people excited about water conservation.
The University of Florida is a land-grant university that has been in existence since Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act 150 years ago! Land grant universities educate the public and provide research on agricultural and mechanical processes and improvements. Although very little agriculture remains in Pinellas County, the extension services thrive by adapting to the varying needs of its constituents and its purpose has expanded to involve solutions for every aspect of urban life.
My internship allowed me to experience all aspects of extension and allowed me to see the value of every department. Every day was a different day at Extension, but the variety only drew me closer to the idea of Extension after graduation. Each agent I worked with had a passion for his or her field and a plethora of knowledge. Extension fosters that creativity and enthusiasm, making this internship a rewarding experience and possible career choice after college.