With my harvesting ceremony completed and my project now wrapped up, I find myself in the perfect position to look back and reflect on how my apprenticeship went from its beginnings in June to now. Overall, I had another incredible experience with Ogallala Commons and Amarillo Area Foundation.
I was able to fulfill the three goals that I had set for myself at the start of this apprenticeship. In terms of communicating, I wanted to get comfortable with emailing Clay and Karoley if and when I had any issues or concerns, especially because I was working remotely throughout the duration of this project. I did end up having to ask for some additional sources and made sure that I accepted every calendar invite for a meeting to ensure we were all on the same page. Although small, I find it easy to overlook emails in my inbox and sometimes forget to respond, so this was an issue I definitely wanted to confront. For my leadership goal, I wanted to get comfortable with working on this project alone and presenting the results alone to AAF. Last summer, I was able to work with a partner and present with her. This year, all of the research and presentation responsibility fell on me, but I was able to push out of my comfort zone and complete it. As for my professional network goal, I simply wanted to continue nurturing this relationship with AAF, especially with Karoley and Clay. They are great mentors and incredible role models of hardworking individuals who work to give back to the community. Furthermore, during discussions at our meetings, I found out that Clay actually attended law school. His advice and reassurance helped me as I transitioned to law school myself.
As for the research project itself, I was able to collect a wide array of relevant information for education, healthcare, and economic opportunity. For each of the three areas, I was able to provide over 30 data points, totaling to approximately 100 data points. While that does sound relatively overwhelming, I spent several weeks working on adding this data to excel spreadsheets and formatting them so they can be easily maneuvered and manipulated. There are three total spreadsheets that list out the counties along the left column and then provide columns of information for the 26 county rows. These columns have a title at the top, making it easy to see what the information is over. The columns can be filtered and sorted from lowest to highest and vise versa.
Throughout this research, however, I did have some difficulty. In trying to research telemedicine, an area of healthcare that has been gaining widespread usage, I could not find any county-level data. By this, I do not mean just our area. In fact, I looked for any data that from other counties and still could not find anything. I also struggled with researching water, an area of economic opportunity. While there is an abundance of data on the internet, there is not much at the county level. Even the water planning districts in this area could not provide county estimates for depth to water or average saturated thickness. This was a huge frustration.
Nevertheless, I was excited to be a part of this research and hopefully provide useful information for Amarillo Area Foundation as they develop goals and plans for the future. I learned so much about my community and the communities around us, and I was able to nurture professional skills such as researching and presenting which will surely help me as I continue my education and then start my career.