This summer internship has had such a positive impact on me so far. My time spent working for OSU Extension in Malheur County is exciting and significant. It’s been illuminating to become aware of certain issues my county faces and how I can help meet their needs. Learning about different local partners in my county is very important to me as well because it expands my worldview.

Yolanda Diaz (left) helps with the makerspace event.

I’ve gotten to work with youth for makerspace events at summer school and with community partners. Makerspace is a program of the Frontier STEM Hub. It includes 3D printing, laser engraving, vinyl cutting for stickers, and heat-press for making T-shirts. I help students in our county by fostering their technology skills, spreading entrepreneurship awareness and expanding creativity.

The most recent makerspace event was in partnership with the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization. Interacting with youth through their designs and creations was a great way to learn about their stories and cultures. The makerspace builds a career-connected learning opportunity for youth and families within our county. One thing I love about Extension in Malheur County is that it does its best to be culturally responsive in diverse and effective manners.

Another valuable event that I’ve had the opportunity to help with is a literacy walk. We had about 30 different stations where leaders implemented physical activities to get from one “page” to another. The books that we use for walk-an- read events encourage students in regards to physical activity. I highly enjoy delivering this activity to create an action-oriented experience for children. One of our upcoming walk-and-read events will be Ontario Municipal Airport where families can meet with pilots and learn about different helicopters or planes. It will be a great experience!

Children participate in the walk-and-read literacy event in Malheur County. Photo by Yolanda Diaz.

Being a leader for 4-H participants has also been an eye-opening experience. I enjoy getting to know each student individually and am always impressed by their outstanding skills and service. Chaperoning for the state 4-H Summer Conference at OSU in Corvallis was a good time for me to learn the role of an adult in a different setting and be able to create the best experience possible for 4-Hers. I can’t wait to be a chaperone (and returning alumni) for the state Chief Science Officers Leadership Institute at East Oregon University.

This internship has also taught me to set boundaries and maintain a professional relationship with students who are close to my age, which will be important for my future profession. I also have the opportunity to document and establish fun activities for the Malheur Works internship program in their professional development days. My internship has exposed me to new roles and experiences that help me become more responsible as I’m adulting.

We still have so much planned for this summer, such as county fair and summer camps. I have such an amazing supervisor in Barbara Brody and can’t wait to continue learning with her help. I’m thankful for having such a positive work environment and I thank OSU Extension for giving me this great opportunity.

Hello everyone, my name is Yolanda Diaz, and I am from the town of Nyssa in Malheur County. I’m a student at George Fox University, on my way to a bachelor’s degree in social work. I aspire to pursue a master’s in social work and then become a licensed clinical social worker. One of my main goals is to have my own counseling practice for families and children.

I’ve been involved in OSU Extension 4-H Teens as Teachers and other programs where I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., and network with many STEM professionals. This summer, I’m working alongside my supervisor, Barbara Brody, associate professor of practice and 4-H educator. So far, I’ve had the opportunity to plan cooking camps for youths, learn about aviation services, promote physical activity around our county, and develop engaging activities at the farmers market.

Yolanda Diaz poses for a picture in front of an Oregon State University Extension Service farmers market booth with coloring supplies and coloring sheets available for youth
Yolanda Diaz at the OSU Extension table at a farmers market.

The process of planning and delivering “Kids in the Kitchen” was a new and exciting experience for me. I’m grateful that our team is able to host summer camps in order for youths to gain essential skills regarding cooking and baking. Seeing them understand concepts and apply them to their work throughout the summer is truly rewarding. Our team has also gotten the chance to visit different schools in our county and teach lessons related to food and nutrition.

Yolanda Diaz handing out sliced fruit to a little girl for making smoothies.
Yolanda Diaz (right) hands out ingredients for making smoothies.

One of my favorite parts of this internship is working in makerspace events. I contribute by helping students learn the process of laser engraving, vinyl cutting, T-shirt and sticker-making, and 3D printing. With the rapid advancement of technology, I believe it’s crucial for youth to learn 21st-century skills. One of the best things about makerspace is that it provides a chance for students to stay determined and creative through the process. The makerspace even won a national teamwork award this year!

Planning educational activities for families at the farmers market is one of the most rewarding parts of this internship. It’s an exciting time to meet families and share resources with them. This year, all of our activities are focused on bringing awareness regarding what bees do for our environment. Engaging with youth about this topic, while building fun crafts, is a beneficial way to inform children about the agricultural setting we live in and how it contributes to our daily lives. The farmers market really helps Extension reconnect with our community and remind them what we are all about.

A valuable lesson I’ve gained from working in Extension this summer is the importance of community partnerships. Involving different organizations is very beneficial. Networking with professionals that may have a different background than yours brings another insight into the subject matter and it also strengthens our community. I’m looking forward to the upcoming events that we have planned. I am thankful to be doing such meaningful work in my community and to grow as a leader, student and intern.