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End of an internship, start of a career

Kassidy’s Internship Experience

Hello! I am Kassidy House, the Natural Resources and Sustainability Communication and Outreach intern at UF IFAS Extension and Sustainability Sarasota County (It is a mouthful I know). This is a blog about my wonderful experience here as a Sarasota County intern over the last 18 weeks.

What I did

Natural Resources Program

One of the biggest projects I completed for the Natural Resources program was the coordinating, presenting and filming of 10 of the 18 LIFE (Learning in Florida’s Environment) Science Short videos. Dr. Katherine Clements started producing LIFE videos to continue providing elementary students with an environmental education opportunity during COVID-19. See my own video about How Hurricanes Form here!

Filming the microplastic LIFE video with Abbey Tyrna. Photo by Lee Hayes Byron

Sustainability Program

One of the biggest projects I completed for the Sustainability department was the three Green Champion course revisions. Green Champion courses are for Sarasota County employees to learn more about the environment and how they can implement sustainable practices in their work and personal lives.

My favorite project for sustainability was writing and publishing blogs. Blogging for Sustainability and Natural Resources helped me confirm that I truly love writing and hope to practice it in my future career. I wrote 16 blogs during my four months here. Check out one of my favorite sustainability blogs, COVID – 19 and Climate Change.

Of course, I did a million other things alongside these few projects, but I do not have space to list them all.

Adapting to COVID-19

Personal Life

I will never forget the beautiful sunsets in Sarasota County

Since COVID-19 was on the rise throughout my summer internship, I did not go out to explore the city and meet people as much as I wanted to. It was a bit difficult, since this was the first time living by myself for more than a month. However, it gave me a lot more time to explore the beautiful, natural areas of Sarasota County. The first thing I noticed was that Sarasota County is so green! The grass, the trees, it is so much greener than my hometown of Gainesville, Florida. I was awestruck by the beauty of Twin Lakes Park, the home of UF IFAS Extension Sarasota County.

Myakka River State Park

Dr. Katherine and I traveled to natural areas around the county to film LIFE videos. We visited North Jetty Beach Park, Myakka River State Park, Oscar Scherer State Park, Celery Fields, and more. It was like I had a personal, local tour guide to show me the most beautiful places in the county!



The Partners for Green Places Factsheet that I created in Canva

Most of my work was conducted virtually. For the Natural Resources program, that meant converting all our educational materials to a virtual format. We conducted classes, webinars, and even children’s summer camps online. For the Sustainability program, that meant promoting programs solely online and focusing on revamping online materials.

One positive side of all this is that I learned so many technological skills during my time here. I learned photoshop to animate my virtual LIFE hurricane video, Qualtrics to create surveys, improved my skills in Canva, and learned how to use video production equipment. I will say, I have gained a new respect for film producers.

What I learned

Importance of County Governments

One important lesson that I learned is that county governments do a ton for their community! We truly care about making Sarasota County the premier location to live, work and play. I never realized how much local governments do to keep everything running smoothly.

The beautiful UF IFAS Extension Sarasota County LEED certified building

Importance of UF IFAS Extension

I also never realized what an amazing resource UF IFAS Extension is for the community. We work hard to implement UF’s knowledge in our local communities to improve the quality of life for all. For example, in the Sustainability program, we provide energy upgrades to low income households to lessen energy inequity and the burden of utility costs. I highly recommend that you check out your local UF IFAS Extension office today.

A direction for my career

I dressed up as a Florida scrub-jay to teach children about the importance of conservation and this imperiled scrub-jay species. This is one of my favorite memories.

This internship gave me a direction to my passion for sustainability. I always knew that I wanted to do something for the environment, but I did not know what direction to take. Should I pursue environmental economics? Environmental science? Environmentally focused remote sensing? Those are all paths that I seriously considered throughout college (which is why I am graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Geography this Spring). However, this internship helped me realize that my true passion is for environmental communications.

I immediately felt at home with this internship. The impactful projects, wonderful people, and gorgeous county made this experience truly remarkable. I am thankful for this experience and am sad to leave. Thank you UF IFAS Extension and Sarasota County for everything. This experience has truly been life-changing for me!

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