The First Internship is Complete!


As my time as an Ogallala Intern has come to a close, I reflect on the blessings that were bestowed upon me during this exciting and rewarding journey. I began my search for a ‘higher purpose,’ per-se as I approached the end of my first year of “adulting.” I was working at a desk job Monday-Friday, sometimes 12 hours straight. Though I enjoyed my work, something was missing and I could not identify that something…until I spoke to Darryl Birkenfeld, my OC supervisor.

I called Darryl one afternoon with hopes of getting some information regarding the nonprofit that I had never heard of, but had been present in so many of my colleagues’ lives. Darryl and I ended up speaking for a good hour, about the fate of this particular call, and the possibilities of creating an internship geared towards OC’s evolving partnership in my home state of Colorado.

We decided on an internship that would encompass the following projects:

  • Campo, CO Case study
  • Development of 12 Key Assets presentation
  • Colorado Small Business and High School Internship Partnership
  • Assisting with youth engagement and entrepreneurship camps across Texas, New Mexico and Colorado

Perhaps the greatest joy I take away from my internship is that fact that I had a hand in developing a program that will help young people in Colorado develop both personally and professionally, with the help from Ogallala Common’s youth engagement fairs and internship program.

Here I am conversing with a student at the Canyon, TX Youth Entrepreneurship Fair. He had the coolest idea of opening a jazz coffee shop! The shop would serve coffee in the mornings and then turn into a music “bar” by evening. One of the most rewarding parts of this internship was being able to interact with entrepreneurial students. I was very proud to meet all of them!


Here is one of the posters that my group made at the Youth Engagement Fair in La Junta, Colorado at OJC. I was impressed by the artistic abilities and was even more so with the students’ ability to explain the soil and mineral cycle to various fair visitors.

It is with gratitude that I thank Darryl and Craig Schroder (the key component in allowing for my work in Colorado to happen) as they helped unveil a passion that had been burning deep within me for the past few years. Never did it occur to me that my desire to help restore rural America and to work with youth could become more of a career than a hobby.

The results of my project are actually not entirely wrapped up, but I am confident that with further work, they will be fruitful and impactful on many communities. The case study that I conducted on Campo, Colorado is well on it’s way to becoming a study that encompasses about 20-25 Campo community members, evaluating how many of these folks left and have come back to contribute to this unique community. The 12 key assets presentation is in the works as well. The final product will appeal to youth and adults, alike, explaining the relevance of the 12 key assets in communities, both large and small. The work done in Colorado is blooming into a healthy partnership, in which high school students will have the opportunity to work with local businesses to develop work ethic before attending college, or graduating high school.

I am hopeful for the chance to continue working with Ogallala commons to foster the revival of rural America and aid in doing my part to inspire and educate youth to explore the world, but continue to support their communities. What a wonderful internship this has been!

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