NDSU Extension Internship Program Prepares Students for Fulfilling Careers
For college students who are curious about a career that serves their community, helps youth develop leadership and citizenship skills, or helps farmers and ranchers be more profitable, being an NDSU Extension agent might be the perfect fit.
Each summer, NDSU Extension offers college students a paid internship program where the student works with a host county or Extension tribal county and a mentor, to help them decide if a career in Extension is right for them. Interns also learn more about NDSU’s land-grant mission and how the three branches of that mission (teaching, research and Extension) work together to meet the needs of North Dakotans.
For Jared Lovro, an NDSU student majoring in agricultural education from Granville, North Dakota, interning with NDSU Extension for two summers in a row has provided him with lifelong memories, hands-on learning experiences, and professional and personal connections.
Lovro, who interned in McHenry County in 2022 and at the North Central Research Extension Center in 2023, grew up as a member of 4-H and was familiar with NDSU Extension.
“I really wanted to understand the day-to-day life of an Extension agent, mostly to see if it had future career potential,” says Lovro. “I also was interested in helping with ag research and learning more about cropping systems in the north central part of the state.”
“Extension interns play a pivotal role in the NDSU Extension mission,” says Jim Gray, NDSU Extension west district director and coordinator of the internship program. “Our interns’ responsibilities include assisting NDSU Extension team members with delivering impactful programs to diverse audiences. They also have hands-on engagement with agriculture, natural resources, family wellness and youth development programming throughout the summer. Plus, they have a chance to earn academic credits and gain invaluable experience while making a real difference in our state.”
Sabrina Dunlop of Rolla, North Dakota, interned in Richland County this past summer and was mentored by Lacy Christopher, the NDSU Extension agriculture and natural resources agent in her host county.
“I really enjoyed the variety of programs I assisted with this summer,” says Dunlop. “Because I was familiar with Extension through 4-H, I wanted to understand more about the work Extension agents do in community development, wellness and leadership. I got to experience the community connection that Richland County has with NDSU Extension. Two of my best memories from the summer were helping at a livestock showmanship clinic and helping with the Richland County Fair.”
“The hands-on experience provided during an internship can help students better understand their field of study and develop practical skills that are highly valued by employers,” says Carrie Hammer, interim associate dean of the NDSU College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources. “Beyond using the knowledge they’ve gained in the classroom, they also get to hone their communication and networking skills, project management skills, and ultimately enhance their personal growth.”
“One of the questions that I ask students at the end of their internship is, ‘What did you learn about yourself?’” says Gray. “The answers I receive are always surprising and insightful, because more than anything, the internship is meant to be a learning experience.”