Interning program open for applying

Rayvin Callaway tries her hand at grafting a tomato plant while based at the Bradley County extension office. Callaway is a member of the first class of Cooperative Extension Service summer interns since the institution reintroduced the program in 2022. (Special to The Commercial/University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture)
Rayvin Callaway tries her hand at grafting a tomato plant while based at the Bradley County extension office. Callaway is a member of the first class of Cooperative Extension Service summer interns since the institution reintroduced the program in 2022. (Special to The Commercial/University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture)

In today’s job market it is important for college students to get hands-on training in their field before graduating. For students pursuing degrees in agriculture or family and consumer sciences, the County Extension Agent Internship program offers the chance to explore a career as an extension agent and network with peers and professionals.

The 10-week, paid internship is a program of the Cooperative Extension Service, the outreach arm of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Incoming college juniors and seniors pursuing degrees in agriculture, horticulture or family and consumer sciences are encouraged to apply.

Applications close Jan. 5, 2024. Students can apply at bit.ly/ces-agent-internshipapp.

Carla Due, extension Ouachita district director for the Division of Agriculture, said students selected for the internship program will experience the day-today duties of county extension agents.

“ W h e re t h e co u n ty agent goes so does the intern. They will experience fielding consumer questions, attending in-service trainings, assisting with educational programs and helping carry out 4-H youth events,” Due said. “Through these experiences, we hope that the students will have a greater understanding of what our county extension agents do and how they serve their communities.” Interns will work with county agents in the areas of 4-H and youth development, family and consumer sciences, agriculture and natural resources and community and economic development. When applying, students will list their top three county preferences, so they can work close to where they live. Housing is not provided by extension, but county faculty may be able to help interns find an affordable place to live.

The Cooperative Extension Service announced the return of an internship program in late 2021. In the summer of 2022, a group of 11 students were selected for the program. In the summer of 2023, extension’s three district directors — Due, Jerry Clemons and Kevin Lawson — selected 15 students from universities in Arkansas, Missouri and Texas. Due said that from the 2022 and 2023 cohorts extension has hired three interns for full time positions.

“It is our hope that these interns will return to us as county extension agents or be an advocate for extension when they graduate,” Due said. “The networking these interns will get during this 10-week period will be very important as they embark upon their professional careers.” Natasha Hightower, who interned in Washington County in the summer of 2023 and focused on 4-H programming, said she received many benefits from the experience.

“This is an amazing way to learn about the Cooperative Extension service outside of your home county and the resources available through extension statewide,” Hightower said. “You get to network with industry professionals and make friends that last past your college career.” College students interested in applying to the internship program should contact the Division of Agriculture Human Resources Department at (501) 671-2219 or (479) 502-9820 or visit bit. ly/ces-agent-internship-app.

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas contact a local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow the agency on Twitter and Instagram at @ AR_Extension.

Rebekah Hall is with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Interns will work with county agents in the areas of 4-H and youth development, family and consumer sciences, agriculture and natural resources and community and economic development.