Extension intern Sarah Stellpflug spreads the word about the cancer-fighting and protective benefits of certain fruits and vegetables.
A summer to discover: Student interns add ideas and energy
Not every summer internship provides opportunities to learn about the latest research on cancer-fighting foods, then help spread the word to the masses. As one of 12 Extension interns during the summer of 2008, Sarah Stellpflug did just that.
A food and nutrition major, Stellpflug studied under Extension horticulturalist Vince Fritz, discovering how different-colored mulches increase phytonutrient levels in produce by manipulating the light quality around the plants. Phytonutrients serve as a protector against various forms of cancer.
The curriculum Stellpflug helped develop will be put into the hands of nutrition and healthcare workers statewide, including Extension nutrition education assistants. It's also being shared with partners like Mayo Clinic.
"I learned more about science in a few months with Extension than in most classes," says Stellpflug. "I learned how to change attitudes about food by reaching out to people with what I know."
Other Extension summer interns delivered on critical topics in agriculture, youth development, natural resources and emergency response. In Morris, Bennett Smith worked on connecting agricultural trials to the food industry, while in Worthington, Becca Sandager focused on engaging youth in technology.
"Intern programs are one way for Extension to show its appeal to the next generation of workers, while benefitting from the energy and ideas that students bring," says Extension Dean Bev Durgan.