Category Archives: 4-H and Youth

Interns gain experience while serving the community

Aldyn Abell, a 2015 Extension intern, spent her summer at the Extension office in Orange County. Among her numerous responsibilities, she helped plan and deliver ocean-themed lessons at 4-H Cloverbud Day Camp.

Aldyn Abell, a 2015 Extension intern, spent her summer at the Extension office in Orange County. Among her numerous responsibilities, she helped plan and deliver ocean-themed lessons at 4-H Cloverbud Day Camp.

Each summer, Virginia Cooperative Extension offers more than 40 college students and recent graduates the opportunity to work on a team that changes people’s lives and betters communities.

Through the 10-week program, interns work alongside Extension faculty members gaining experience in youth development, agriculture and natural resources, and family and consumer sciences.

Thomas Vasilopoulos, a 2015 intern, spent his summer with the Extension office in Arlington County. Although he was double majoring in integrated science and technology and Spanish, he found himself doing all sorts of tasks within the office, including helping to design programs and teach children at three different schools.

“They didn’t really hesitate to give me a lot of responsibilities,” Vasilopoulos said. “Extension hired me to make a positive impact in this office, and that’s what I wanted to do.”

In the middle of the summer, the Arlington County office’s 4-H agent took a new job in Kansas. Due to this transition, Vasilopoulos worked more closely with 4-H programs, acting as a stand-in agent.

“It’s really great that Extension made these internships available,” said Jennifer Abel, unit coordinator and family and consumer sciences agent in Arlington County. “It’s very helpful for us to have some extra hands to help out during the summer.”

Vasilopoulos’ knowledge of the Spanish language also proved useful throughout his time in Arlington. According to Abel, he assisted in translating documents from English to Spanish that could be used with their Hispanic clients. Vasilopoulos said he discovered his Spanish was a more marketable skill than he had anticipated.

Jordan Hoffman, a crop and soil sciences major at Virginia Tech, served as an intern in the Culpeper County office, where she learned more about the horticulture, agriculture, and 4-H fields. During her internship, Hoffman helped to promote and make decisions for the completion of the George Washington Carver Agriculture Research Center in Culpeper County and gained networking experience.

“I think the biggest thing that my internship taught me was to be more confident in what I actually know,” Hoffman said.

The internship not only provides students an opportunity to learn more about their areas of interest, but it also allows them to get a taste of Extension and all the different ways it works with the community.

“We hope some of these students will choose to pursue a career in Extension after their experience,” said Joe Hunnings, VCE’s director of professional development. “Over the past few years, Extension has hired several interns as full-time agents.”

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Living the Legacy — 4-H Forever

4-H'ers play with drones during a tehnology demonstration.

During the Drones and Other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles workshop, participants view a demonstration of drone technology.

After 95 years, Virginia’s State 4-H Congress remains the premier 4-H event, drawing more than 450 young adults from across the commonwealth to the campus of Virginia Tech for four days of learning, leadership, and fun.

“4-H Congress provides members an opportunity to develop life skills and hone their leadership abilities while forging new friendships,” said Tonya Price, an Extension 4-H youth development specialist.

This year’s theme — Living the Legacy – 4-H Forever — drew upon the history of 4-H and its power to assist teens in developing leadership, citizenship, and life skills through hands-on educational programs.

During congress, delegates have the opportunity to compete in events like food challenges and extemporaneous speaking contests. They can also attend workshops to learn more about 4-H competitions like the electric challenge or cattle working. And while at congress, delegates participate in a service-learning project.

Workshops led by Virginia Tech faculty members allow teens to explore career paths in animal science, STEM, leadership, citizenship, healthy living, and environmental science. Sessions offered included Drones and Other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, National Weather Station Tour and SKYWARN Training, So What’s It Like To Be a USDA Veterinarian?, and Fashion Merchandizing, to name a few.

Congress delegates also learn about educational opportunities at Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. They visit with college representatives to learn about career paths they could pursue. 4-H Congress Coordinator Sam Fisher said that during the college/career tracks, 4-H’ers learn what college truly can offer them.

“They discover things about colleges and majors that they didn’t even know existed,” Fisher said.

Delegates, who submitted applications and were selected, interviewed to represent Virginia 4-H at National 4-H Congress in Atlanta. As part of the process, youth present portfolios of their 4-H experience. The 21 delegates selected this year have an opportunity to interact with and learn from other outstanding 4-H members from across the country.

The Virginia 4-H Cabinet is elected during state congress. Cabinet members plan events like 4-H State Congress, and they work to enhance the public’s understanding of 4-H.

Abby Durheim, from Stafford County, was elected to the cabinet representing the Northern District this year. Durheim, who has been in 4-H for seven years, is considering a career in agricultural law or political science. She wants to further involve herself in 4-H, carrying on the family tradition — her parents were also 4-H’ers.

“4-H plays a huge role in my life,” Durheim said. “I’ve always wanted to be a 4-H’er. I don’t know what I would do without it now. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to interact with other delegates from across the state.”

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