By Julie Ann Madden
Being a member of the Hancock Honeys & Hustlers 4-H Club and having a skunk for a pet, it should be no surprise that a Westfield youngster sought a career in veterinary medicine.
Christine Lloyd went to college with a dream of becoming a veterinarian but an internship with the Iowa State University Extension & Outreach in Sioux County has changed her mind.
After taking a couple of vocational agriculture classes with Akron-Westfield teacher Randy Kroksh, Lloyd discovered her like of agriculture.
“I am a farm girl,” laughed Lloyd, “but I didn’t know I wanted to go into animal science.”
Since Lloyd graduated from Akron-Westfield High School in 2009, she has attended Dordt College in Orange City where she has studied agriculture and animal science with a minor in business.
As she looks forward to graduating from Dordt College this Spring, she is planning to begin graduate studies at Iowa State University to earn a master’s degree in agriculture education, emphasizing ag industry along with earning her teaching certification.
Last October she began a year-long internship under the guidance of Kaye Strohbehn, an Extension agriculture producer and consumer education specialist serving Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Sioux counties in Iowa.
One of Lloyd’s most recent intern duties was writing a horticulture article for Extension Horticulture Educator Margaret Murphy — it’s reprinted in this Hometowner edition.
Lloyd has also been involved with Extension’s Ag-Citing youth program, which creates an awareness of agriculture, the industry, its issues and the food system.
Last year, the program was offered to 30 third graders, and this year Lloyd has been instrumental in the expansion of the program to about 100 fifth graders. Ag-Citing is a one-day camp of rotating stations.
The topics differ from year to year, explained Lloyd, adding this year the focus is on new and beginning farmers, global climate change, conservation, local food systems and feeding 9 billion people.
She is also working with two veterinary science camps for youth: Science I, which teaches basic veterinary technology and Science II, which focuses on animal anatomy and allows youth to shadow a veterinarian.
Lloyd is also working with Extension specialists to develop other regional two-day youth camps including an agronomy camp and a turf management-horticulture camp.
These camps include a plant camp, where students showcase the information they’ve learned about soil, water, fertilizer and plant genetics and perform a community service project.
“My experience last year was exciting,” Lloyd told The Akron Hometowner, explaining she worked on her senior project by helping with the Ag-Citing Program. “Being able to see the education side of agriculture through the Extension just opened up doors for me.”
To date, the most memorable part of the internship has been the “relationships I’ve been able to create,” said Lloyd. “Meeting so many people — understanding their backgrounds in agriculture, getting to know them, picking their brains and working with them.”
“To younger students, one of the most rewarding experiences (of an internship) is you develop so much professionally, create a (colleague) network and work toward distinguishing yourself,” she said. “I’ve had very good opportunities to develop professionally by working with people from Dordt College, Farm Bureau, Extension and other area colleges and elementary/high schools. It’s neat to see the network grow.”
“Internships are extremely rewarding,” said Lloyd.
“Internships are relatively new to Extension & Outreach,” said Lloyd’s advisor Kaye Strohbehn. “We saw a great need for help with summer youth programs and at the county fair. We decided to take the opportunity to expand our programs by having an internship program.”
“Not only with 4-H, but we’ve also seen a tremendous response to our vet science camps and ag and life sciences in school programs,” she said, explaining with the county Extension Council’s permission, they started the internship program. “It’s been a very positive experience.”
“I’ve greatly enjoyed working with Christine,” said Strohbehn, noting that Lloyd and two other Dordt College students approached her about working with the Ag-Citing Program about a year ago. “She is a complete joy to work with and having her expertise on board to work with us has been positive.”
“Mentoring is so important as we look ahead in our industry,” she said. “We need both young beginning farmers and professionals to meet the future needs of our industry.”
“By 2050, the world population will increase to 9 billion — 2 billion more than we have now,” she said. “We need new and innovative ways to engage young professionals in our industry.”
“I’ve enjoyed helping her to develop professionally,” said Strohbehn. “The industry is lucky to have her.”