CROOKSTON, Minn. - For UMN Crookston student Madison Olson, a senior majoring in early childhood education and elementary education at UMN Crookston, 4-H has been a long-time passion. She was involved in the organization for seven years. Olson did not have to do an internship as part of her graduation requirement for her programs, but because of her passion for the organization, she wanted to give back. It is, for this reason, that she decided to pursue internships with 4-H extension and Becker County.
“One of my very good college best friends (Myla Lewis) graduated and was part of the 4-H program and part of the Agriculture Education program at UMN Crookston and completed an internship in Clay County,” Olson said. “I am double majoring in elementary education and early childhood education at UMN Crookston and we do not require an internship (but student teaching), but I still wanted to work with youth and give back to the organization that made me who I am today.”
What gave Olson the most gratification through the opportunity was the chance to work with youth. The organization was such a big part of her youth and the internship opportunity offered her the chance to do the same that so many others did for her in the past.
“My favorite part of the internship was working with the youth most definitely but also working with other various extension staff and 4-H volunteers/parents. We helped with the Becker County Fair, and I had the opportunity to plan a 4-H Family Fun Night for parents and their kids before the fair ended. I got a chance to work with various different adults and youth, and that made it fun.”
While the experience was fun, it also provided challenges for Olson. “Something that was really challenging for me during this internship is having people ask me questions I am usually not sure about,” Olson stated. “Many people during the fair came up to me with questions and I did not know how to answer them. That is the hard part about working in extension, there are some questions you can answer, but some take time.”
The opportunity last summer did not directly pertain to Olson’s chosen career path, but it still prepared her with skills that will last a lifetime as she embarks on her career as a teacher. “I think that this internship better prepared me for my own teaching career because I was able to work with various different people that are all not the same. You have to learn to work with others that may not get along with you about certain topics. I have also been able to work with various youth from different backgrounds, and that has better prepared me for my own teaching career.”
Olson’s biggest takeaways from the opportunity center around lesson planning in her future career in education. “I have learned about lesson planning in my educational courses at UMN Crookston, but nothing prepares you for actually doing it yourself and planning a whole program. I was able to plan and prepare my very own day camp which took place in Frazee, Minn, and was fishing themed. The youth learned about different species of fish, how to make their own pop can fishing pole and we even went fishing! The youth learned a lot.”
Internships and the opportunities provided at the University of Minnesota Crookston are life-changing. It shows a lot about Olson that even though it wasn’t a requirement, she still took the opportunity for herself to grow as a person and give back to an organization that was important to her. It will be an experience she will always remember as she continues to make an impact on young lives through teaching.