Summer Adventures: June 2015 News

2015 Orientation Retreat Big Success

2015 interns
2015 Interns and Apprentices

This year’s Intern and Apprentice Orientation Retreat was one of our most successful yet! With a total of about 60 in attendance during the 3 day event, there was rarely a dull moment. The orientation began with a great meal, followed by a “Human Billboard” icebreaker, providing a fun opportunity to get to know everyone. Throughout the afternoon, Interns, Apprentices, and Supervisors were welcomed into the OC community with introductions by various members of OC’s Board and staff, along with Dean Church, representing CoBank, the Orientation sponsor. The keynote speaker for the afternoon was Julene Bair, author of The Ogallala Road. Julene’s seminar focused on “sharing our stories from the places that shaped us.” The day ended with an excellent Art Slam, where everyone was invited to enter a poem, song, “act” or other talent to share with the group.

interns look at guidebook
Interns look through their guidebook during orientation.

The next day began with a Colors Personality Assessment, a great tool to analyze personalities—bringing self-awareness and a better understanding of group dynamics. The morning keynote, Buildling Relationships Through Better Understanding of One Another, was given by Debra Bolton, extension specialist in Family and Consumer Sciences at Kansas State University. The morning closed out with a Commonwealth Fair. During the afternoon, interns and apprentices had the opportunity to choose from a variety of workshops, with subjects ranging from communicating to finding funding, to being creative. The day wrapped up with a presentation from William Nelson, the President of CHS Foundation. Kade Wilcox, OC’s strategic planner, also spoke on building important skills needed for the workplace.

As always, OC is thrilled at the start of this new journey, and we are looking forward to all the great things that interns and apprentices will accomplish!

View the full photo album from the orientation, all photos courtesy of Alphonso Rincon.

What Does the Coordinator Do?

by Shelby Thibodeaux

Shelby ThibodeauxAs OC Intern and Apprentice Program Coordinator, I am in charge of making sure that everyone in our program has a successful experience. The first step is conducting our Orientation Retreat; which equips interns with professional skills and cohort building opportunities. Another key part of my work is managing OC’s portal: a revamped online system that all interns and their supervisors now use. Since it is a new system, every now and then, users experience problems. It is my job to troubleshoot and resolve the hiccups that occur with the help of our technician. I also use the portal to monitor the intern blogs.  So, right from the start, I help all of the interns and supervisors get registered in the portal, because professional products are stored there, including application, blog posts, evaluations, portfolios, and timesheets.  Having these digital tools allows OC to maintain a constant communication loop with interns, apprentices, and supervisors.  But that does not take away our direct communication over the telephone. Every intern, apprentice, and supervisor will have a phone call from me a couple of time (maybe more) to insure a smooth, worthwhile journey in OC’s program!

Harvesting Ceremony: Why it Matters

By Darryl Birkenfeld

Cristina Vargas (right) with her supervisor: Gay Chalfant
Cristina Vargas (right) with her supervisor: Gay Chalfant

OC Community Internships are occurring throughout the calendar year, not just in the summer months.  So last week, I had a chance to go to a Harvesting Ceremony conducted by Cristina Vargas, as she was wrapping up her internship in speech language therapy at the Turn Center in Amarillo, Texas (

I was in the middle of a hectic week, and it took some effort for me to drive up to Amarillo from my office in Nazareth, TX, and to make it on time for Cristina’s Ceremony.  But as I settled into the Board Room at the Turn Center, I witnessed again why the Harvesting Ceremony is so important.  Cristina gave an impressive 15-minute presentation to her therapist peers and supervisor—with Power Point slides that were eye-catching and illustrative of her internship work. More to the point, Cristina told a unique story that only interns can tell: about her family background, about how she settled on speech pathology as a career path, and about obstacles and challenges in her educational journey.  Every person in the room resonated with her story, and felt inspired and energized.

Cristina punctuated her Harvesting Ceremony with great energy and expression.
Cristina punctuated her Harvesting Ceremony with great energy and expression.

I am relating my experience and sharing these photos from her presentation to remind OC Community Interns that you have a great opportunity coming up with your Harvesting Ceremony.  You may not particularly like public speaking, but you have a unique story to tell, and your community partners are eager to hear it. Please take time to select photos and design a presentation that illustrates the projects and activities that you worked on during your internship.  But most of all, plan a presentation that tells your audience something about who you are, where you came from, and where you are going.  These elements are what will connect you to your audience, and allow them to see some of the hidden value of your internship.  You never fully realize what you have been given and what you are doing in your internship, until you take time “to harvest.”

Caring for the Commonwealth Among Other Cultures

By Paul Martin, Ph.D.

Editor’s Note: OC Board Members volunteer their time with OC work, but their volunteer outreach goes much farther than our organization.  Among the many examples, OC wanted to share a brief article about building up the commonwealth for small communities that Paul Martin does in Central America nations such as Nicaragua and Honduras.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have been doing some volunteering in Honduras in recent years with an Episcopalian team offering veterinary services, which works with many other organizers and workers of a local cooperative (the Coffee/Vegetable Production/Processing/Marketing Cooperative, COHORSIL).  Our overall team of 25 from the U.S. flew into San Pedro Sula, Honduras in the middle of May 2015, and then traveled via bus to the modest Hotel Zari in Siguatepeque. We spent some of the first and second days preparing and organizing supplies and equipment for vaccinating and doctoring small and large animals the next four days.  During this year’s May 16-22 trip, we treated 5,862 animals.

After loading our vaccines, parasiticides, and other supplies and equipment at COHORSIL in the mornings, four teams each travel separately on the backs of trucks into villages in the mountains surrounding Siguatepeque.  On arrival at the specified village for the day, as a member of one typical team, and as spokesperson, I typically facilitated introductions of our team and key local organizers, express appreciation for the opportunity to work with these wonderful Honduran campesinos, provide soccer balls and frisbees for the youth to play with while we work, and emphasize the need for caution, teamwork and safety.  Then the team splits into two sub-teams and begins to treat small (cats, dogs, poultry/birds, perhaps swine and sheep and goats) and large (cattle, equine, perhaps swine, etc.) animals.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn addition to work by the four teams in four villages each of the four days (i.e., 16 populations are touched by our efforts), Dr. Campaigne also led a separate teaching team which trained community leaders in veterinarian techniques and skills for areas relatively void of veterinarians.  Moreover this team provides the villages visited with a wonderful resource book, Donde No Hay Doctor para Animales.  As usual, there were times when some of the rangy cattle and horses (oftentimes tick-ridden; however, the burros and mules are generally clean!) were somewhat difficult to handle, and in spite of my introductory sermons, I did get a few nicks and bruises, and was kicked in the head as I milked a cow to show off in front of some of the young Honduran kids.  But all in all it was an absolutely safe and wonderful trip with great food and lovely relationships built with young and old.

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