A Southern Summer

A Southern Summer

Jul 16
Shelby Cooper, Senior in Agricultural Science Education
  

The Bluegrass State. Horse Capital of the World. Bourbon Country. Wildcat Nation. I have had the pleasure of living and working in Lexington, Kentucky this summer as an intern for the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) and all of these formerly unfamiliar terms have become a regular part of conversation.  While I may be living away from home, I’m comforted by those around me who share my passion for agricultural education. 

The NAAE headquarters are located in Lexington, on the University of Kentucky campus. The mission of the organization is to advance agricultural education and promote the professional interests and growth of agriculture teachers as well as recruit and prepare students who have a desire to teach agriculture. NAAE offers positions in Professional Development, Communications and Advocacy, and another student is working with the Teach Ag Campaign. The variety of positions gives interns a peek into the world of NAAE and all they do to support agricultural educators and pre-service teachers.

As a Communications Intern, I spend the majority of my time working on documents and projects to prepare for the annual NAAE National Convention. I have been able to read award applications from some of the best agricultural educators in the country and write news releases for the recognitions they earn. I have gained insight into national agricultural education programs, seeing the creativity and diversity that agriculture teachers are capable of. I am also working on convention presentations and scripts and preparing to work in the pressroom at the 2015 NAAE National Convention, held in New Orleans this year.

This role is preparing me for a career as a teacher by introducing me to the culture and community that is agricultural education. I’m also working in roles where I have very little experience, so this internship is teaching me to think on my feet and adapt to new situations, which is always useful in a teaching career.  I am responsible for award winners from regions on the West Coast, in the Midwest, and in the Southeast. Many of these programs differ greatly from programs in Illinois, so I am continually learning more about agriculture at a national level. These teachers are recognized as exceptional, and it is a joy to have the opportunity to learn from them.

This summer has been rewarding and refreshing. While working in Kentucky, I’ve been able to meet fellow students working toward an agricultural education degree. We have spent hours comparing campuses, student organizations, and our respective programs. Without a doubt, I am proud to be a part of the University of Illinois’ program and to have the opportunities I’ve had. It’s an exciting time to be in agriculture, and while I’m having the time of my life in Lexington, I can’t wait to return to campus for a final year as a pre-service teacher and an Illini!

A Southern Summer