Putting life skills to work

For one AmeriCorps STEAM Corps member, Andie Lee, she is doing just that this summer.

Andie Lee
Andie Lee, Berrien County AmeriCorps STEAM Corps member. Photo by Jennifer Young.

Andrea (Andie) Lee is a student dual enrolled with the Michigan State University (MSU) Institute of Agricultural Technology certificate program in partnership with Southwestern Michigan College. She is wrapping up serving Berrien County MSU Extension as an AmeriCorps STEAM Corps member whose service has also been accepted as an internship for her post-secondary educational experience.

I am one of the many MSU Extension staff members that have had the pleasure of working with Andie and I got to see the light bulb spark the day she realized how her background in Michigan 4-H and FFA fit together in the workplace. Andie is a 4-H member in Hillsdale County with the High on Drafts 4-H Club. Her 4-H projects include rabbits, swine, poultry, draft horses, turkeys and sheep. She is a FFA alumni member of the Lenawee ISD Tech Center in Adrian, Michigan.

We recently took time out to reflect on Andie’s experience with us. From her 4-H involvement, she has used the following life skills during her internship and service with us: leadership, time management, collaboration, networking, record-keeping and being adaptable. Andie has used her facilitation skills, some leadership and public speaking that she learned and developed through Michigan FFA. Andie has repeatedly shared the importance of networking, saying that she “learned to create your network and use your resources.”

When Andie started with us in May of 2019, her job or career goal was to transfer to MSU to complete her bachelor’s degree and become an agriscience teacher. This experience has opened her eyes to the world of informal education and the breadth of what we do through MSU Extension each day. In her words, “MSU is one big universe in itself and there are so many components that make the whole of MSU Extension.”

Andie would, and already has, recommended this type of internship to others. She has friends going into agricultural education and thinks this type of internship would help them prepare. She worked alongside educators and other teachers and liked being in different environments. Andie said, “If I stick with Extension, I will be able to make different environments and communities my classroom.”

When asked, Andie shared the following perks or benefits to working with MSU Extension as she reflected on her summer:

  • She grew her network by working with different program areas and she met lots of people.
  • She got to work with Mike Reinke, integrative pest management Extension educator, who helped her learn collect and identify insects for her fall semester entomology class. As of the day we talked, Andie has acquired 447 different insects over the summer from southwest Michigan.
  • By learning about and using our resources, Andie did a lot of her own personal career exploration.
  • She has become a substitute teacher through Berrien RESA with connections she made through her internship experience.
  • Andie has had fun! In her words, she has “never had a bad day at the office. I get to play with things. I get to be a kid, a kid at heart and practice the art of facilitation.”

Has Andie’s AmeriCorps service and internship been successful? “Yes, I felt clueless and now feel prepared and ready to pull new materials together. I am more flexible and adaptable on the fly,” she said. Her favorite part of this experience has been the opportunity to sort, gather and prepare materials and supplies for programming. Andie’s favorite topics that she taught were those involving career development and leadership. I have worked alongside Andie and observed her natural ability to teach, which will help her be successful as she pursues a future in education.

For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education or entrepreneurship, email us at 4-HCareerPrep@anr.msu.edu.

Did you find this article useful?