Reflections: Internship With NC State Extension Local Food Program & NC 10% Campaign

— Written By Grace Baucom

Grace Baucom Headshot

Hi! I’m Grace, a class of ‘22 NC State University Park Scholar studying Extension Education and Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems. This summer, I’ve worked as the Communication Extension Intern for the N.C. Cooperative Extension Local Food Program (LFP) and NC 10% Campaign. My projects included developing and creating the first three LFP internal newsletters for Extension professionals, managing NC 10% Campaign and LFP social media accounts, and redesigning LFP webpages, among others. 

As a complete “Extension nerd,”  this internship has been an incredibly valuable opportunity to learn about Cooperative Extension from a firsthand perspective while building career-ready skills. Communication and knowledge dissemination, especially “ag-vocate”-focused communication, is where my heart lies, so I enjoyed having the chance to improve my communication skills while working on projects that helped share local-food-focused knowledge with farmers, Extension professionals, and consumers across the state. 

Throughout the internship, I used (and learned to use!) a wide diversity of communication tools, and I had the opportunity to work with a variety of Extension professionals. Working at the state level of Extension provided a unique internship structure in that I could interact with and learn from Extension professionals from across NC State Extension departments and settings, all while working on projects designed to support consumers and Cooperative Extension efforts throughout the state. One of my favorite experiences of the internship was interviewing Regional Area Specialized Agent in Local Foods Lisa Gonzalez about her work with the EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems Project; I learned so much about the nuances of the local food landscape in western North Carolina and finished our call feeling inspired.

Feeling inspired was a theme of this internship. I was continually impressed by the timely nature and high quality of NC State Extension’s COVID-19 response, which has included the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T State University resources and event series, Vacationer Supported Agriculture efforts, countless webinars, videos, articles, and resources created by dedicated Extension Professionals, and many more efforts than I could ever list here. NC State Extension’s mission is deeply solutions-oriented, and I have felt proud to witness and contribute to some of the solutions that Extension is creating to provide relief and support to North Carolinians during this unprecedented time. 

My favorite component of this internship was its applicability and sense of purpose. Over the last 13 weeks, I’ve seen my work be shared and used “in the real world,”  and that makes me feel confident that the new skills I’ve learned as well as those I got to practice and improve during this internship will also prove invaluable in my future career. 

More than anything, this internship proved to me each and every day that NC State Extension is a service: it exists to make people’s lives better, to inspire the continual improvement of North Carolina’s food and agriculture industries, and to build a strong social, economic, and environmental future for our state. My favorite unofficial NC State Extension slogan has always been “helping people help themselves” – it’s been an honor to do exactly that this summer. 

How to find my work:

NC State Extension professionals can email hcdankba@ncsu.edu to be added to the Local Food Program listserv and monthly newsletters.