COLUMBIA, Mo. — Eight college students were part of this summer’s inaugural class of the MU Integrated STEM Internship program.
The program began with a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to prepare college students for careers or graduate studies in fields related to agriculture and rural communities, food production and nutrition and health. Six interns were funded through NIFA and two through the MU Extension agriculture and environment program.
The nine-week program, which concluded July 26, offered hands-on experiences working with mentors in MU research settings and the opportunity to learn from county-based MU Extension faculty working in areas related to their interests or career paths.
“By pairing students with extension field faculty as well as working with their campus mentor, the interns experience not only how research is conducted but also how research is translated into extension educational programs that engage Missouri citizens,” said Rebecca Mott, HES assistant extension professor.
The paid internship concluded with interns presenting their research activities at MU’s Summer Undergraduate Research Forum.
Jake Stringer, of Columbia, an agribusiness major at Southeast Missouri State University, worked with Scott Brown, an agricultural economist at MU. They looked at the potential impact of three value add-ins cow-calf producers could use to increase profits: artificial insemination, all-natural beef, and local and direct marketing.
“My biggest takeaway is seeing how much MU Extension does for the state of Missouri,” Stringer said. “I have seen firsthand how they are involved in every county and help out local farmers. Before this program I did not know what extension did, but now I know how important it is.”
Other interns were Isaac Lorenz, Pilot Grove; Danny Nadler, Centralia; Aaron Mott, Clark; Derek Strawn, Columbia; Mikala Cessac, Defiance; Betsy Embree, Paris; and Katherine Sanders, Lake Saint Louis. Extension faculty working with the interns included turfgrass pathologist Lee Miller, economist Scott Brown, swine nutrition specialist Marcia Shannon, professor of nutrition and exercise physiology Steve Ball, and HES assistant extension professors Kristin Miller and Kelsey Weitzel.
— Katherine Foran, University of Missouri Extension
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