With my first internship experience with Ogallala Commons coming to a close, I wanted to take some time to reflect on all that has happened and provide some insight on how this internship has impacted me.
First off, I’m excited to say that I was able to complete the three goals I set for myself towards the beginning of my internship. Thanks to clear communication between Dollie and I as well as between us and our supervisors, we were able to hit all of our milestones and host an information-filled Harvesting Ceremony. One of our supervisors, Clay, even assured us that he felt we completed a thorough and helpful project. As for Dollie and I, we were able to share a few meals together and develop a relationship that was comfortable and extended beyond the walls of the office itself. I got to learn so much about her and the experiences that shaped her just as she was able to learn about who I am. As for Luis, the maintenance man, we were able to share a few more conversations about his family and the house he was building before I had to say goodbye to him. I’m glad that I became a person in the building that he could come talk to and I hope my thanking him for his work brightened his day a little.
The project that we worked on this summer certainly forced me to work hard and sharpen my skills as a researcher. We live in the day and age when information is right at our fingertips. The problem was finding sources of data and statistics that were not just interesting, but that truly provided insight on the unique situations of each county. Because my topics were quite different as well (food, housing, and employment), I also had to spend time thinking about the best angles to approach each one of them. We had to avoid going down rabbit holes and truly think critically about what would be most useful for the AAF strategic team. Beyond that, time became somewhat of a difficulty. With all the information at hand, I largely underestimated the time it took to put together spreadsheets and write the report. Nevertheless, I think one of the issues we both had to confront was how to best present this information visually. I ultimately decided on spider graphs for each topic for 26 counties. Some math will tell you that I ended up creating 78 graphs. And how did I put a numerical value on each data point that was on the graph? I created a ranking system for each data point based on the Texas and Panhandle average. Overall, I do feel content with what we developed. However, it could have gone more smoothly with some tweaks.
Ultimately, this experience with Ogallala Commons has been eye-opening. Thanks to Amarillo Area Foundation, I was able to see each of the 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle on a more profound level. With the intern retreat, I was able to befriend interns from Colorado, Kansas, and other cities here in the Panhandle. I also appreciated the call to volunteer as I was able to come back Pampa Meals on Wheels and provide some help there. With the Harvesting Ceremony and the blogs, I was able to improve my writing skills as well as my presentation abilities. I truly believe that Ogallala Commons has helped me grow as an individual, and I hope that I can continue to do so with more experiences within my community.