Published on 07/10/19

Internships allow potential employees to learn from UGA Extension agents

By Sharon Dowdy

What better way to decide if a county Extension job is for you than to spend a summer working alongside a county agent.

For the past 12 years, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has offered annual paid internships to college students who aspire to be county agents. The internships are funded in part by UGA Extension and the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Office of Academic Affairs.

“Extension summer interns not only learn valuable employment skills, they also contribute in meaningful ways to the daily educational programming offered by the local Extension program,” said Mike Martin, director of county operations for UGA Extension. “I have been very impressed by the quality of the students. It’s exciting to see many of them go on to apply for full-time employment with UGA Extension when they graduate.”

University of Tennessee graduate Sarah Brodd interned in Dekalb County, where she now serves as the UGA Extension Agricultural and Natural Resources agent. Brodd grew up in a suburban area of Nashville and hadn't thought about a career as a county agent until she was in college.

“This internship shows students a different career path that relates to agriculture but isn't always so specific to their area of study,” said Brodd who earned her undergraduate degree in landscape design.

Former intern and UGA CAES graduate Ty Torrence is now the UGA Extension agent in Grady County. He comes from a family with deep connections to UGA Extension — his grandfather, father, uncle and sister all served as county agents.

Torrence interned with UGA Extension agent Bob Waldorf in Banks County while earning his horticulture degree from CAES.

“I believe I learned more that summer than I did in two years in the classroom,” he said. “There is no better way to find out the ins and outs of an Extension career than to step in the shoes of an agent, which is what this internship allows you to do.”

This summer, 24 students were selected for internships; 11 are CAES students, while others hail from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC), Georgia Southern University, Georgia Southwestern University and other schools.

The internships are available year-round, but 90 percent of students choose to work in the summer.

Augusta native Dallas Cooks is happy that her internship with the Richmond County Extension Office has allowed her to gain experience while being home with her family. An food industry management major at North Carolina A&T State University, Cooks is working with Family and Consumer Sciences agent Emma Poston.

“I’m seeing that ag is broad, and working with the EFNEP helps me meet my career goal of improving food and nutrition in high schools,” Cooks said. “I now see what these classes do for the community. I’ve helped teach how to make good healthy foods, food preservation and jam making to kids. I love to see them light up — because I was that kid.”

Cooks sees a family connection to her work with UGA Extension; her grandfather was active in New Farmers of America, her grandmother was a home economics teacher and her mother is a school teacher.

“Honestly, I could see myself coming back home to work as an Extension agent,” she said. “I really know the community, and I believe I could make a huge impact on the entire city.”

In Cook County, Georgia, Lauren Dubberly has been going on farm calls and helping local agent Tucker Price with 4-H day camps.

“My projects have included a watermelon fungicide trial and installing pecan ambrosia beetle traps,” Dubberly said. “I'm really learning more about the different diseases in fruits and vegetables along with other crops.”

Watching Price has also taught Dubberly valuable communication skills.

“I plan to one day become an extension agent, and this internship has helped me confirm that decision,” she said.

This summer’s interns, their majors, colleges and their county assignments are:

  • Blake Banks, agribusiness, UGA CAES, Madison County;
  • Kayla Braggs, food science, Florida A & M University, Clayton County;
  • Alexandria Cajuste, long-term care, Georgia Southwestern University, Sumter County;
  • Caitlin Carter, public horticulture, Auburn University, Muscogee County;
  • Ashley Collins, animal science, UGA CAES, Morgan County;
  • Abby Connally, animal science, UGA CAES, Gordon County;
  • Dallas Cooks, food industry management, North Carolina A&T, Richmond County;
  • Caitlin Cooper, agricultural communications, ABAC, Emanuel County;
  • Madison Crawford, recreation, Georgia Southern University, Henry County;
  • Ben Dennis, agribusiness, University of North Georgia, Fayette County;
  • Lauren Dubberly, agriscience and environmental systems, UGA CAES, Cook County;
  • Samantha Ellis, animal science, UGA CAES, Oconee County;
  • Casey Gilbert, agricultural education, UGA CAES, Walton County;
  • Jason Gibson, horticulture/turfgrass, ABAC, Crisp County;
  • Ivey Glover, child and family development, Georgia Southern University, Bulloch County;
  • Guy Hancock, agricultural economics, UGA CAES, Irwin County;
  • Lili Hester, agricultural communications, UGA CAES, Toombs County;
  • Toni Hunlen, agricultural communications, UGA CAES, State 4-H Office/Clarke County;
  • Chasity King, education, Georgia Southwestern University, Sumter County;
  • Samuel Shafritz, horticulture, UGA CAES, Forsyth County;
  • Kelly Seel, animal science, ABAC, Coweta County;
  • Chloe Sexton, agricultural education, ABAC, Brooks County;
  • Jasmanae Sims, criminal justice, Benedict College, Elbert County; and
  • Tucker West, agribusiness, UGA CAES, Greene County.

For more information about careers with UGA Extension, visit

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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