This summer, University of Florida student Johanna Walker will be working in Wakulla County as a paid summer intern with the 4-H program.
About the Internship Program
UF/IFAS Extension Summer Internship Program focuses on integrating College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) students with UF/IFAS Extension. The current program engages a cohort of CALS students in a year-long process of recruitment, education, virtual, and hands-on experiences in extension under the supervision of an extension faculty member.
The goals of this program are to create a student pipeline for extension through increased student knowledge of extension and related career opportunities; to develop an in-depth cohort-based program that meets the needs of both faculty and students; and to increase the number of extension interns being hired into agent positions.
This paid internship program will introduce students to career opportunities in UF/IFAS Extension through placement with extension faculty mentors. Students selected to complete the program are placed in one of the 67 UF/IFAS County Extension offices or RSA/SSA offices for 8 weeks in Summer 2022.
Selected students enrolled in a 1-credit course in Spring 2022 that introduced them to their mentor and helped them prepare for the internship experience through program development. Selected students were responsible for securing summer housing in the area where they are placed.
Meet Johanna Walker: In Her Own Words
Hi, my name is Johanna Walker, and I am excited to intern with Wakulla County’s 4-H at the Wakulla County Extension office this summer! I am an environmental science major at the University of Florida. My goal when I graduate is to work in sustainable agriculture by engineering food systems that are environmentally friendly while also feeding a growing population. I am originally from Lansing, Michigan, an industrial city in the heart of the Midwest, often referred to as Car Capital U.S.A. Today, much of it resembles a rust-belt town since automobile manufacturing moved South, leaving brownfields and pollution in its wake. Growing up in this area taught me the importance of pollution mitigation and the protection of green spaces in the city such as parks and nature preserves. I also had the opportunity to live in the Brazilian Amazon when I was in middle school. Living in the rainforest taught me a lot about the world, it’s amazing cultures and biodiversity, igniting my passion for the environment and sustainability! Living in these polar opposite places during my youth impressed upon me the importance of protecting the environment and the valuable services it provides to people. When we maintain the health of nature, our environment naturally filters out and captures pollutants harmful to human health. I believe that environmental conservation is the key to good living conditions and a vibrant economy, and this is what motivates the career path I have chosen.
Some of my hobbies include gardening, trash pick-up, yoga, camping, and hiking. When I am not working or studying, you can find me hiking on a trail with my dog and taking in the beauty of nature around me. While studying at the University of Florida this past year, I was blessed with the opportunity to work on sustainable landscaping research at the Residential Landscape Ecology Lab. On this project I honed my skills at measuring sustainable agricultural techniques, including soil sample collection and invasive plant species identification, which I believe have prepared me well for the projects I have planned for this summer.
One of the biggest projects I have planned this summer is assessing the condition of the food forest at the Wakulla County Library and creating a design for the garden that includes the selection of plant species that will flourish in this area. Through this project, I hope to provide the community with a resource of healthy fruits, vegetables, and herbs. My aim is that the food forest will supply the community with educational experiences about healthy food choices, how to grow your own food, and healthy cooking for years to come. For my next project, I will be working alongside local volunteers to help collect water samples to test the water quality of the Wakulla springs, which will be recorded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. I am delighted to be a part of this research because it is extremely important to track the health of our springs not only for our well-being, but also for the many species that rely on this ecosystem. Lastly, I will be working at the 4-H summer camp where I will help instruct lessons and activities. I am confident that this internship will enhance my leadership and communication skills and expand my knowledge about successful community outreach. Community outreach is critical to ensure environmental health since important decisions and societal change happens at the community level. Ultimately, the experiences I gain during my internship will help me achieve my aspiration to promote sustainable choices throughout the globe, community by community. Most importantly, I am excited to be of service to the community of Wakulla County.
Johanna Walker can be reached at the Extension office at 84 Cedar Avenue in Crawfordville, by phone 850-926-3931, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.