An Experience in Extension
Lauren Anderson’s summer internship was anything but typical. As a cropping systems and 4-H intern with University of Idaho Extension in Elmore County, Anderson was able to experience the many hats worn by county Extension educators.
“With the wide variety of tasks, I was able to expand my network, experience different things, and learn something new every day,” Anderson said.
A New Experience
Living on her family’s cow/calf operation near Mayfield for the past six years, Anderson was looking for an internship that was close to home but that would also provide her an opportunity to make new connections outside of the livestock industry.
“The crop stuff looked really interesting to me and I had done 4-H since I was eight,” she said. “Since I already have a pretty good network of connections in the ranching community, it was cool to work with the farmers. We worked a lot with farmers solving their issues and testing their crops. I really enjoyed that.”
Anderson’s responsibilities included helping with an insect hunt for children, educating the public about pollinators, helping to prepare for and run the Elmore County Fair and collecting data for U of I research projects. She also accompanied UI Extension Educator Brad Stokes on client visits to houses, farms and gardens to diagnose plant-related disease questions and insect infestations.
“Brad helped people diagnose and solve plant issues by recommending herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, fertilizers or different watering techniques,” Anderson said. “During this time in the field I learned a lot about crop identification, insect identification, plant diseases and gardening techniques.”
Anderson was also able to participate in a population analysis for an invasive cereal aphid in Idaho. Stokes and Anderson swept 10 wheat fields in Bruneau, Grand View, Hammett, King Hill, Glenns Ferry and Mountain Home and sent the specimens to Moscow for identification. The goal of the project is to identify if there is a presence of the aphid and to document its host range.
“In the samples collected, several of the specimens were candidates for the MFC species and are still being examined,” she said.
The Elmore County Fair opened Anderson’s eyes to the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes.
“I am a past 4-H member and never realized how much work goes in to coordinating events for 4-H participants,” she said. “With my prior experience with horses and horse showing, I was eager to help with that portion of the fair.”
In high school, Anderson travelled across the country showing cow horses and all-around horses.
“I didn’t do sports but that was kind of my sport,” she said. “I hope to get back into it after I have a career and am stable.”
Anderson will graduate from U of I’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in December 2019 with a degree in agribusiness and although she’s not set on any one career path, she does know agriculture will be part of her future.
“I love the agriculture community,” she said. “I really like dealing with finances and management in agriculture. I’m pretty analytical and I like that aspect of it. I like dealing with livestock stuff, that’s what I have a passion for.”
Article by Amy Calabretta, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Photos provided by UI Extension, Elmore County
Published in November 2019