UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Morgan Bear, a third-year agricultural and education extension major in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, exchanged a typical classroom setting for a mobile agriculture education lab last summer as an educational intern for the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation.
Supported by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation is a charitable organization that focuses on creating educational programs for middle and elementary school children who may have limited exposure to agriculture. The foundation also trains teachers on agricultural concepts while helping them meet their continuing education requirements.
As an educational intern, Bear’s primary responsibility was developing lesson plans and working in the mobile ag lab.
“It was fascinating to see how students with little to no agriculture presence in their schools or communities interacted and engaged with our lessons,” Bear said. “Some students might have had basic knowledge, but agriculture was a strange concept to most.”
Bear, of Newville, taught many lessons on bees, milk quality, soybeans, insect identification, ecosystems and other topics. Each lesson took students through the scientific method and was created for ages from kindergarten into eighth grade.
Bear completed preparation work for multiple events and committees. She planned for 2022 Ag Literacy Week and packed attendee boxes for the Educator’s Ag Institute that happened over the summer. She also worked with the ag promotion committee, which is a resource for county farm bureaus in developing programs and activities focused on educating people about agriculture.
In addition, she was a liaison to the workforce development committee with Grow PA Agriculture, an initiative designed to support the growth of Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry through the collaboration of agribusinesses and organizations. The committee consisted of interns from other member organizations, including Land O’ Lakes, AgChoice Farm Credit, PennAg Industries Association and the Center for Dairy Excellence.
Bear collaborated with the other interns on the www.agandfoodcareersinpa.com website to help students discover new careers in agriculture and food. She created a quiz on the website to help students find potential agriculture careers that might match their interests.
“The agriculture career quiz that Morgan developed proved to be very popular on the website,” said Charlene Espenshade, executive director of the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation. “The quiz hit its maximum at 100 per month, so it had to be updated to make room for more submissions.”
As Bear reflected on everything she did over the summer, she said each aspect of the job will help her to become a better agriculture educator.
“Whether it was developing lesson plans and educational materials within our state’s standards or discussing with our sponsors the lessons that take place in the mobile ag lab, each task gave me a different viewpoint,” Bear said. “I went into my internship not knowing what to expect and came out further equipped to teach agriculture.”
Espenshade noted that Bear brought her knowledge to the group as much as she gained new skills from the job.
“From the beginning, Morgan was a part of the team,” Espenshade said. “Not only did the foundation gain her perspective as an aspiring teacher, but she obtained experience leading lessons to a variety of grade levels.”
When advising someone looking for an internship, Bear offers a reminder to be authentic.
“Success comes down to being yourself,” said Bear. “No one knows you better than yourself. While it is great to reach out to any connections, it’s ultimately up to you to decide what you are going to make out of your internship and set yourself up for success in your future career.”
Information about internships and careers for College of Agricultural Sciences students can be found online at https://agsci.psu.edu/students/careers/jobs-internships.