By Traci Block, U of M Senior
Over the summer, I was able to participate in a new internship program offered through MAELC and sponsored by AgriBank. The Minnesota Agricultural Education Internship focused on allowing agricultural education students experience what it is like to be a high school agricultural educator throughout the summer. I was lucky to be placed at Sibley East High School in Arlington, MN under the supervision of Tim Uhlenkamp and Jeff Eppen. During the course of the summer, I was able to help them work on their CSA and school garden, attend CDE meetings, go to MAAE (Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators) summer conference, work at the Sibley County Fair, and hold an ag ed immersion camp to show high school students what it would be like to become an agricultural educator.
During the course of the summer, I learned a lot about being an agricultural educator and even about myself as a person and my career choice. First of all, I learned that being a high school ag teacher has a lot of different aspects that I may have not considered without this experience. Many people don’t understand all of the work that ag teachers put in during the summer, and how different the “classroom” is during the summer. Not only did I learn about what the internship aimed to teach me, but I also learned more about myself as a person. I learned that I really have a passion for educating high schoolers about agriculture and the different aspects that entails. As for my career choice, this internship really solidified my choice between leadership and communications and teaching. I think that my heart has always been in agricultural education – it just took me time and some different experiences to really know that this is what I want.
One of the key experiences during the internship was attending the MAAE summer conference. In going to the conference, I learned that Minnesota ag teachers are a big family and are there to support you no matter what. There may be a lot of competitive people in the mix, but overall they all have one passion: teaching ag. Another key experience was getting to work with the high schoolers in the school garden and CSA. It was interesting to see how education can go beyond the classroom and into the summer for students.
Overall, being able to participate in the Minnesota Agricultural Education Internship was a valuable experience and will be something that I can reflect on during my future career.
Pictured here: Jeff Eppen, Traci Block and Tim Uhlenkamp at the Sibley County Fair agricultural education building.