My internship experience with the K-State Research and Extension Center was wonderful! I’m so appreciative of this opportunity and I learned so much. Dr. Aguilar, my supervisor, was great to work with, and he worked from the start to incorporate my strengths. I love learning, sharing, and working with and for the community. With the health concerns of the current coronavirus pandemic, he tasked me with researching and creating educational content to share with farmers and the general community. I began with a couple radio interviews; the topic was Watering Your Lawn, and I shared reasons and methods to help homeowners efficiently use water to make their lawns look beautiful. Did you know there was a study done that discovered many homeowners could reduce their water consumption by 50% and hardly notice a difference in their lawn? It’s all about when we water, how we water, and how often we water. That radio speech turned into a short video to post online for expansive access on Facebook and YouTube. The Irrigation Team recently set up these new pages to continue reaching farmers and communities in the times of physical distancing, and my content will be shared there! As the Watering Your Lawn video went through edits and re-shooting, I continued learning and researching about various topics to create infographics: Water for Food in Kansas, Irrigation Scheduling, Tillage and Water, and Water Saving Tips. Water for Food in Kansas was one of the most interesting topics for me – as I mentioned in a previous blog, my community service at the Salvation Army focused on food insecurity and food waste. This infographic helps viewers visualize and understand how much virtual water, or the amount of water used to grow, clean, store, and ship the product(s); it encourages people to use their food wisely without wasting any. For example, a cup of coffee contains 18 gallons of virtual water; when that coffee is wasted, so is all the virtual water it took to get it in your cup. The Water for Food in Kansas infographic also contained information about how water is used in Kansas to help state residents understand where their water is being used and why it’s important to conserve as much as possible. These first two projects focused on community education, whereas some of the other content was created for an agricultural audience. Irrigation Scheduling and Tillage and Water are topics specifically meant to encourage producers to consider their current practices and choose the best management tools for their production. The other project I worked on was creating a KanSched3 cheat sheet and tutorial video. Although we weren’t able to complete these projects while I was in Garden City because of a system delay, I helped create the outline and storyboard. The cheat sheet will be used to help farmers see how easy the KanSched system is, and the tutorial video will be a quick walk-through of the online program, which is to designed to help farmers track and use the most efficient amount of irrigation water in their field based on ET (evapotranspiration) and rainfall data, as well as field and crop conditions. Even though I didn’t have much experience with digital graphic creation, I loved making these materials; they all took an extensive amount of time to research and design the simplest, most concise way to share important information with viewers. It was important for me, as the creator, to make sure my information was correct and easy to understand. I experienced a learning curve with all of the programs I used for creation, but once I got the hang of them, I truly enjoyed the work. Now, as I move on from my first internship with Ogallala Commons, I leave with more knowledge of water conservation, farming practices, community outreach, and digital content creation, as well as a solid foundation for my future and passions!
I believe I achieved and exceeded the three goals I set before my internship. With new knowledge and experience in the agricultural and conservation field, I’m a confident student that is eager to begin the conversation about efficient farming practices and water uses. Additionally, by creating content for both an agricultural audience and general public audience, I have a better understanding of how to clearly share information with others. Although I would have liked to gain more in-person experience, health concerns didn’t allow for that; in the future, I can continue learning how to differentiate my communication depending on the audience and their prior knowledge of the topic. Lastly, my professional networking goal came to fruition as Dr. Aguilar encouraged me to stay in touch for future opportunities within the agriculture and conservation community. He said my skills of turning the research into educational tools was very valuable, and he’d be happy to offer advice in the future as I continue my education and search for a career.