This is a guest blog by Armenda Boyer, a sophomore at Purdue University. She is currently working toward a dual major in Agricultural Communication and Agricultural Economics. This past summer, she was an education intern for the Indiana State Fair Commission.
“Where are we going?” asked a wide-eyed little boy as I led his summer camp group to the Mac Reynold’s Barn at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
As an education intern for the Indiana State Fair Commission, my team and I often hosted student field trips. My favorite days working at the fair were the days when children flooded the Fairgrounds to learn about agriculture. This summer, I realized that helping children learn is one of the most fulfilling things I can do. When that learning is regarding agriculture, an industry I am passionate about, I am even more excited to share information.
I answered the eager line-leader, “We’re going to a barn to learn about farming!” The little boy raised his eyebrows, paused and then confidently said, “That’s not a barn—it’s not red! This one’s green, so it can’t be a barn.”
After some assurance that barns can be any color a farmer paints them (even green!), the little boy accepted the fact that not all barns are red.
That story is one of my favorite memories from my time at the Fairgrounds. The episode made me laugh, but it also made me stop to think. I grew up on a farm and sometimes take for granted the knowledge I have about agriculture. To me, informing the public about how food is produced is just as important as producing that food.
Besides discovering my interest in agricultural education, I learned many more life lessons in just a short three months. Here are a few key points I took away:
Don’t be afraid to apply for internships that don’t exactly line up with your major. I’m not an education major. I don’t foresee myself being a teacher in the future. Still, I learned so much that did apply to my studies in communications and economics.
Preparation is key. I’m a 10-year 4-H’er and have competed many times at the State Fair. I didn’t realize how much behind-the-scenes work was required for the fair! Our education team worked tirelessly to prepare for the 17-day festival. I realized the importance of planning projects with plenty of leeway. You can never prepare too early!
A simple “Hello” can go a long way. Most people love to talk, and so do I! After greeting an older gentleman, I asked his views on the newest State Fair exhibit. In the middle of our conversation, he asked if I had ever shot a cannon before. What? A cannon—the ancient weapon?! I’m sure I gave him a look of pure confusion while shaking my head. Suddenly, I realized this person must be in charge of the daily cannon firing. (Yes, a real life cannon is shot off each morning of the fair!) Before I knew it, I was at the helm of this huge piece of equipment, pulling the firing cord. I’m not much for weaponry, but I really loved shooting this cannon! And this experience was made possible just because I said hello.
Besides firing a cannon, one of the reasons my internship was so fulfilling was because I was able to talk to children about agriculture. It was neat to see the gears turning in the little ones’ minds as we talked about farming. When students grasped a concept, the education team and I felt truly accomplished. I loved seeing the amazement in children’s eyes when they realized that cheese comes from a cow or that barns, in fact, can be green!