One Spark is all it Takes

“It never hurts to ask.”  My name is Tina Hiller, a senior year English education student at The Ohio State University, and “It never hurts to ask” is the mentality I assumed when asking Hardin County OSU Extension if they needed summer assistance.  I was a 4-H’er in Hardin County for 10 years of my youth, and after a particularly heavy semester of coursework at OSU, I sought a job shadowing experience with Mark Light, Hardin County’s 4-H and Youth Development Extension Educator, to assess extension education as a possible career path. During winter break of my sophomore year, I job shadowed Light and other Hardin Co. extension educators in hopes that I would either be comforted that I chose the correct major or firmly directed toward a new route of study.

In one eig13256127_10153463339647016_1167093177374486400_nht hour work day, I assisted a morning preschool class, built robots with middle and high school classroom students, and aided an elementary after school program. In between working around the county with these three different age groups, I interviewed extension educators about their daily duties.  The fulfillment I felt at the end of that day drove me to inquire about the need for summer workers.  To my knowledge, the extension office had not previously utilized college student summer help, but Light and I had a good relationship from my previous 4-H years, so it did not phase me to simply ask.  I expected a “We’ll see” or an “I’ll call you when I find out more”, but a couple of months later, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a job application.

13434716_10153515418542016_3284263773112641917_n            That winter, Light was applying for a grant to fund Hardin Co. Extension’s Spark Lab, a new and innovative educational space for community use. When the grant was approved, partial funding went toward payment for two summer interns. Bailey Wagner, an agriscience education student at Ohio State, and I were official summer interns for summer 2015 and were able to increase office productivity, create new extension programming, and help design the Spark Lab. This summer, the Spark Lab grant provided employment for three interns, who have expanded Hardin Co. Extension’s reach even more!

Now I work as a second year 4-H and youth development intern.13626561_10154002071433005_4717326522482848602_n I absolutely love that this career path promotes applicable learning for all ages. While I consider the teen population my specialty, and plan to seek my first postgraduate position in a high school, the work I have conducted within Hardin Co.’s extension office has given me an invaluable foundation in experiential learning. I value learning at all stages of life, and hope my future position allows me to bring collaborative, community education to the classroom environment.

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