Hi, Joseph O’Brien checking in. As I enter my seventh week in this internship, I can only describe my experience as fulfilling. These past few weeks, I have kept busy by working at summer camps and school programs – ranging from one day to four days (not overnight) – with Extension’s Open Campus Program. Additionally, I have been working with Umatilla County’s 4-H Program to prepare for the upcoming county fair in Hermiston.  

The first summer school program I had the opportunity to work with was in Umatilla at McNary Heights Elementary School, for youth who were interested and invited by their teachers to the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program held during the summer. My supervisor, Anna Browne, and I were invited to present a curriculum regarding monarch butterflies. Earlier in the year, Umatilla County was selected for a grant provided by Corteva to educate youth (K-12) in the surrounding communities about the world’s biggest natural phenomenon: the migration of monarchs. At McNary, I talked about the butterfly’s life cycle, its migration from various parts of the United States and Canada to California and Mexico for the winter, the predators that put the butterflies in danger, and the habitats required for reproduction and preservation of these majestic insects.  

Caterpillar Survival Game with milkweed

We also talked about the importance of pollinators and how big of a contribution they make to the food we eat and items we use daily. After learning and discussing this information throughout the days with the youth, we played different games. For example, one involved a milkweed plant, a caterpillar magnet, and other magnets representing predators and food. The object of the game was to pick up the food magnets off the milkweed five times with the caterpillar magnet without picking up the predator magnets that would kill the caterpillar. After completing various trials and evaluating how many larvae got the five food magnets, it was determined that about 1% of eggs live to become a butterfly. Shocking, right? 

Another summer day camp was called, “Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs: Manufacturing Camp” (NBT Camp). During this camp, youth received presentations from Boardman Foods, Amazon Web Services, Blue Mountain Community College and Oregon State University faculty members, Umatilla Electric Cooperative, and the Port of Morrow. Additionally, the kids had the opportunity to design and create their own wooden speaker, work together during team-building activities each day, and give a presentation about their future careers/goals. Not only did the kids learn about all the amazing trades and work training positions located here in the Port of Morrow but I learned more about the history of the port. 

NBT Camp Wood Shop Project

I also learned how each manufacturing company/business (Lamb Weston, Oregon Potato Company, etc.) in the town of Boardman cooperates to create thousands of jobs, opportunities, and resources for those seeking them. One highlight from this weeklong camp was our trip to the SAGE Center located in Boardman. This location was selected for the new Amazon Web Services “Think Big Space” and will promote classes and opportunities surrounding STEAM for K-6 students. I was honored to sign the construction wall along with the kids with our “big ideas.”  

In the next few weeks, I will be mainly working with the 4-H program to prepare for the Umatilla and Morrow County Fair. Most individuals have a hard time working in a fast-paced environment with multiple tasks. Sometimes, people can’t handle these high-stress situations – not me though. As I am going to enter my junior year of nursing school this fall, I know these feelings all too well. I look forward to the challenges and tasks that are bestowed upon me as we enter the fair madness! All in all, I feel very privileged to have these opportunities here in Umatilla and Morrow counties. With only three to four weeks remaining, I am determined to meet more people, collaborate with more programs/organizations, and learn/obtain new knowledge. I would love to give a special thanks to those who have made my internship more memorable so far: my supervisor Anna Browne, Kim Rill, who works for the SAGE Center and helped with NBT Camp; America Pacheco an intern for the Port of Morrow and helped with NBT Camp, Kalie Davis, director of workforce development for the Port of Morrow and camp director for NBT, Shauna Newman, who works with the 4-H program here in Umatilla County, and so many others.  

Stay safe and well!  

Joseph O’Brien recently completed an internship in the OSU Extension office in Umatilla County.

I would like to start by saying I’m very grateful and appreciative to have had the opportunity to work as a student intern through the OSU Umatilla County Extension Service. Throughout these past 10 weeks, I’ve worked on countless projects, interacted with community members, and grown personally.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, this internship has proved me wrong again and again. For instance, obtaining knowledge about the programs, resources, and workshops offered to everyone in the nearby communities of Umatilla and Morrow counties.

Toward the beginning of this internship, I was encouraged to create two personal objectives. Here is what I came up with: Grow within a professional work environment/improve my work ethic skills, and provide educational content about community health to young adults and youth in nearby communities.

One way I’ve incorporated these objectives into this experience is through the STEM Saturday experiments for kids that my fellow intern Ruben and I have been working on throughout this entire internship. An example would include a water tension experiment. I explained that when you dip dish soap into pepper-covered water, the water tension is disturbed. Therefore, the pepper is pushed to the edges of the plate. One way I related this to my community health objective is washing your hands. This allowed the kids to imagine that the pepper is dirt, bacteria, or any other bacterium/infective agent and explaining how important it is to wash your hands under warm water with soap for at least 20 seconds. I felt this was especially important to include considering the global COVID-19 pandemic.

During this process, Ruben and I created “Take and Make” sheets and a lesson plan for these six different water-based experiments. This part of the project really incorporated both objectives I created by allowing us to provide knowledge, collaborate with each other and relay information to our supervisor, and educate others while still having fun!

On the occasion that I was asked what my internship entailed, I made sure to tell them about how I was able to connect with community members, help at workshops, take projects head on, grow professionally, and develop skills that are not offered many places. Additionally, I would like to encourage those who seek challenges, a variety of tasks, and who want to learn more about the community they reside in to research this internship opportunity.

None of this would have been possible without my amazing supervisor, Anna Browne or fellow intern and friend Ruben Lopez. When I look back at this internship experience and my involvement with the OSU Extension Service here in Umatilla county, I would not change anything.

Stay safe everyone and remember to practice social distancing and wear your mask!

Ruben Lopez-Carillo is an intern in the OSU Extension office in Umatilla County.

My favorite part about the internship so far has been working at the local Nuts Bolts and Thingamajigs Camp for youth – NBTC for short. This camp was dedicated to preparing and motivating Umatilla County kids to understand the different paths they can take in getting their education. One of the main activities I took lead in this camp was team building games with the students.

When I came into this internship I was looking forward to the community-based aspect of OSU Extension and this camp helped fulfill this value.

The COVID-19 pandemic had made it tough for OSU Extension to meet all aspects of the its mission to serve Oregonians. We have been able to work around some obstacles and accomplish the mission effectively. One example is a project we have been working throughout this pandemic called 4-H STEM Saturday – an in-home activity for youth to keep learning.

The biggest learning opportunity I’ve had throughout this internship has been growth in my ability to adapt to challenging situations. Similar to everyone else in the world, the biggest challenge has been working through the conditions with COVID-19. It has really been testing our adaptability and patience to accomplish our tasks. I’ve gone through many changes in the past that required me to become adaptable and this here feels like the greatest challenge of all. After this experience I feel that I will be well prepared for any future challenges.

Joseph O’Brien is an intern in the OSU Extension office in Umatilla County.

In mid- to late July, I had the chance to work with community members from Umatilla and Morrow counties at Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs Workshop Camp (NBT), a two-week day camp with 10 new students each week. During this camp, my role was to put on a team-building activity each weekday for at least 15 to 30 minutes for the middle schoolers attending – sixth through eighth grade – and help throughout the day. The purpose of NBT camp was to educate the youth about the workforce positions available within the Port of Morrow located in Boardman as well as positions available in Hermiston, and also teach them about apprenticeships, how to be entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, and get them to start thinking about their future, all while following state safety regulations. Examples of workforce jobs we talked about included electricians, food manufacturers, diesel mechanics, etc.

Umatilla Electric Cooperative provides electrical circuit activity for youth at the NBT camp.
Umatilla Electric Cooperative provides electrical circuit activity for youth at the NBT camp.

One thing I took away from this camp was not only are these jobs going to be around for a very long time, but also, it is up to Generation Z to make sure that these jobs are filled. None of this would have been possible without Kalie Davis, workforce training manager at Port of Morrow and her two interns; Leah Harris at the Port of Morrow, Anna Browne, my internship supervisor and the 4-H/Juntos Latino outreach coordinator and acting Umatilla County Extension Service agent; Ruben Lopez, an Extension intern in Umatilla County; educators from Blue Mountain Community College and Pendleton School District, and workforce presenters from Umatilla Electric Cooperative and Boardman Foods.

Another interesting job I had was being part of the OSU TRACE-COVID-19 project in Hermiston. I thought this would be an important experience to provide my services and share with you. A commonality between the TRACE-COVID-19 Project and Extension Service is providing the community with resources that may not be present. In this case, OSU provided free COVID-19 tests for residents whose addresses were randomly selected. My role as research assistant was to help a team leader by driving to houses, collect materials and tests needed, and organize and distribute forms.

OSU TRACE-COVID-19 Project vehicle
OSU TRACE-COVID-19 Project vehicle.

From my many work tasks and experiences, I can say that OSU Extension in Umatilla County exceeded my expectations. From providing hands-on experience in the wood shop to youth to providing educational/medical resources to nearby communities, I am truly blown away. I’ve learned that the Extension Service is not only here to help with the Umatilla County Fair, but it provides so much more than I ever thought.

In the beginning of this internship, I feared that my main tasks would revolve around helping with the 4-H program and I would have very little room to explore my interests of community health and education within the surrounding communities. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I am glad that these experiences have proved otherwise. With that said, I am disheartened that my internship experience may not be all that I wished it could have been due to COVID-19. When I say that, I am referring to the return of Umatilla County to baseline status, meaning we were restricted to traveling outside our homes only for necessary travel. This prevented Ruben and I from being able to record videos for our STEM Saturday series that we have been working on this entire internship. This is only another roadblock and based on all the opportunities I have encountered; I am determined to make the most of my remaining weeks working remotely.

Stay safe everyone and remember to practice social distancing and wear your mask!

Ruben Lopez-Carillo is an intern in the OSU Extension office in Umatilla County.

My hometown of Boardman, Oregon, taught me some valuable life lessons and helped shape me to be the person I am today – a fourth-year student at Oregon State University majoring in animal science and bioresource research. Working out in the farm with my dad starting at age 12 helped me build a strong passion for livestock and agriculture.

Ruben Lopez-Carrillo

My experience with working out in the farm led me to gain an interest in animals and eventually this turned into a career path that I wanted to pursue as a veterinarian. I spent most of my childhood in Boardman but I later moved to Hermiston, Oregon, to finish high school. Moving to another high school gave me an opportunity to attend Oregon State University with all the support I had from teachers and advisors.

Coming to OSU as a first-generation student was a great accomplishment for me and now I get to set an example for my younger siblings. At OSU I’ve been heavily involved in MANRRS: Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences. Recently, I was elected to serve as the undergraduate student vice president and national officer for MANRRS the 2020-2021 year. In my free time I like to go on walks with my dogs and I also enjoy playing my guitar.

In my internship I will be working on projects that will provide an educational, hands-on experience for youth. I will also be helping prepare other 4-H events in Umatilla County. One of the 4-H projects I will be working on is aiming towards helping students explore educational activites to do at home so that they continue to stay motivated during these tough times. Additionally I will be assisting in the county fair setup for 4-H animal showings and assist when the event occurs.

Ruben Lopez-Carrillo

My impression of OSU Extension before starting this internship was that I would be helping out with community events and possibly doing some presentations at some point. Some of the community events I was expecting to work with were educational programming in the county with youth. Familiarizing myself with the tasks Extension does for the community is another aspect I expected to learn about.