Flat Aggie, STEM Kits, and Classroom Visits, Oh My!
As I’m wrapping up the last few days of my internship, I’m reflecting on how much I have learned and improved in the last 10 weeks. Coming into this internship I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I knew I was going to learn and experience a wide variety of things. I knew my main focuses during this 10-week period were going to be coordinating the Summer STEM kits, writing the next Flat Aggie series, and helping all of the counties with different projects.
When I first started working on the STEM kits, Morgan and the other coordinators already had a theme picked out. It was my task to develop activities to include in the kits for the three months. I brainstormed different ways I knew agriculture was tied into sports. The first sport I had to think of was baseball. I chose to do an activity that explained how the equipment used at a baseball game is connected to agriculture. I also included an activity called ‘Cover Crop Monsters’ that l shows the youth how the grass that is used on baseball fields might also be used in a farmer’s fields to prevent erosion. Next I brainstormed what activities could tie basketball and football together. This one took me a bit longer but I eventually came up with the idea of having the kids learn about the importance of animal identification by making their own ear tag. The students will be able to draw the connection between the ear tag number and the number on a jersey in a game. Similar to how referees need to be able to identify the different players, farmers need to be able to identify their animals to keep them happy and healthy.. Lastly I incorporated all of the snacks that we find at sporting events. For this, I gave them a simple homemade ice cream recipe to make and along with that, a packing peanut experiment that will teach them about by-products. Two of the packing peanuts are made of biodegradable corn and two are Styrofoam. This will help students explore ways we use plants to make things around us more environmentally friendly. Along with these activities I gave them handouts that had different facts and information about agriculture and sports.
My next main project was the Flat Aggie series. First I had to lay out the topic for each issue in the series. The theme for 2022 is the production of corn and soybeans. I decided on Tillage Practices, Planting, Life Cycles, Fertilizer, Harvest, and Storage. I then researched all of the different topics, found pictures, fun facts, and put a joke of the day on each edition. Once I had a pretty good start on them I sent them to Morgan so she could look them over and make some grammatical changes and give me some ideas on ones I was kind of stuck on. After making the changes I sent them to the other coordinators so they could review them and make any suggestions since they will be using them too. Then I made the final changes and I sent them out again. This was a little harder for me because I didn’t really know much about corn and soybeans besides the basics but everyone was super helpful with putting the right information in them.
Overall this was a really great experience for me. It made me step out of my comfort zone, I learned lots of new things, and I was able to experience a variety of different schools and grade levels. It was fun to see the students learning about agriculture. For me, it was great to step out of my comfort zone, speaking in front of people, even if it is just preschoolers. Before this internship, the most public speaking I’ve done includes class presentations and giving a speech at my high school graduation. Through my time here, the classroom experience has helped me grow more confident in myself when speaking in front of others, although I do still get nervous. One of my biggest takeaways is that what I might think is common knowledge to everyone, isn’t for a lot of people because they didn’t grow up with the same experiences I did. Some kids might not even know that beef and dairy cows are different or know what a soybean looks like but to me those are obvious. Which also leads to one of my favorite things about this internship, being able to watch the kids be fascinated by things I wouldn’t think twice about. It made me realize that I was really fortunate to grow up the way I did and have the experiences I did.
I would lastly like to say thank you to the Board of Directors; Rob, Morgan, Paige, Alaina, and Shelby for letting me be a part of the Ag in the Classroom Program. I thoroughly enjoyed everything I experienced and am extremely grateful for this opportunity. I know I will take everything I learned in these 10 weeks with me to my future job. Below are a few pictures of my time with the Ag in the Classroom Program.