Students to connect research with Colorado communities this summer

CSU Extension Internship Program
The CSU Extension Internship program offers students learning experiences and applied research opportunities.

This summer, 22 students from Colorado State University will be venturing out across the state of Colorado as participants in the 2019 CSU Extension Internship program.

The 2019 program, managed by CSU Extension and funded by six colleges and the Office of Engagement, is doubling in size after a successful pilot launch last year that saw support from three colleges. The internships provide students with hands-on learning in the field and with communities, aiding in their understanding of working across complex state, county and university systems.

Formed in the vein of CSU Extension’s mission to address emerging community issues using science-based resources, each internship aligns with research being conducted at the university. Interns are paid via a stipend and locations span the entire state of Colorado, from the Golden Plains to the Western Slope.

It takes a village

Becca Jablonski, food systems extension economist and assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, led the effort to develop the program and was instrumental in its launch in 2018.

“The pilot year started with three colleges and 11 interns and was incredibly successful,” she said. “The internship program was valuable not only for the student interns, but also for professors as a way to connect their research to the field and to identify opportunities for applied research that address the most pressing issues facing communities, as well as for Extension agents wanting support to investigate key issues.”

The 2019 internships span a wide range of topics, from industrial hemp production to food and nutrition education and disaster animal preparedness. A program this vast requires support from several partners, including the Warner College of Natural Resources, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Agricultural Sciences, the Walter Scott College of Engineering, the College of Health and Human Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the Office for Engagement and CSU Extension.

Extending education beyond the classroom

For Sneha Kadyan, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology, the Extension Internship program will allow her to put her education to practical use in the field. As the Food and Agricultural Business Curriculum intern, Kadyan will work alongside Martha Sullins, Extension Regional Specialist, to train Colorado businesses on the core competencies of business management.

“This CSU Extension Internship is providing an opportunity to work with diverse teams and collaborate on interdisciplinary projects that extend beyond CSU and my department,” Kadyan said.

She added that she will be given the flexibility to work in a way that helps her manage her academic and personal responsibilities while gaining relevant applied research experience. “It opens up a world of possibilities to expand my network, knowledge, and skills,” she said.

Creating meaningful connections for students

Wild Horse History and Management seems like a pretty specific topic for an internship, but for Elena Dosamantes, it was a perfect fit.

A master’s student in the Rangeland Ecosystem Science Graduate Program at the Warner College of Natural Resources, Dosamantes’ research focuses on wild horses and burros, and she hopes to one day work for the Bureau of Land Management on wild horse management.

A stone’s throw away, in the College of Liberal Arts, Leisl Carr Childers shares a similar interest.

As a professor and U.S. historian, Carr Childer’s focus on environmental history — and specifically wild horse preservation — gives her a unique perspective and ability to lead the Wild Horse History and Management Internship.

CSU Extension Internships
Students in the CSU Extension Internship program can work in a wide range of disciplines, ranging from nutrition education to disaster animal preparedness.

Even though Carr Childers and Dosamantes are housed in different colleges at CSU, the Extension Internship Program is providing an opportunity for them to connect over their common interest and work together on qualitative research in the field this summer. For Dosamantes, the opportunity is invaluable.

“The Wild Horse History and Management internship complements my thesis project perfectly,” Dosamantes said. “With the guidance of Dr. Carr Childers, I will be able to know more about the history of horses and the community that my master’s thesis is focused on. In this way, my understanding of the wild horses in this specific area of Colorado will be more complete.”