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What is a public servant? Learning through N.C. Cooperative Extension

Teaching children

Submitted photo Intern Olivia Horning describing a fig plant to the youth at Sacred Heart for Earth Day.

By Olivia Horning

N.C. State Intern

From full time college student to Cooperative Extension intern, in preparation for this newfound position, I was told that I would be doing “a little bit of everything.” This statement has remained true, as I have gotten to experience what Cooperative Extension is to each of the agents: horticulture/local foods, family consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, livestock/field crops and Extension director.

Learning the inner workings of how each agent operates within their 40 hours (and then some) has proven to be very beneficial. Working as a Cooperative Extension summer intern, I have found that each day is very different from the last. Danèlle Cutting, horticulture/local foods agent, has emphasized on multiple occasions that “this job is what you make it,” and I couldn’t agree more.

In the first few weeks of the internship, I planted apple trees and elderberries in the teaching orchard, filmed all the material used in the most recent rhubarb cooking video, and created a flyer for the broiler chicken project that now hangs in every feed store in Rowan County.

To me, this is success, not only in being able to accomplish these things in such a short amount of time, but to be surrounded by the very people that have made these opportunities possible.

That, my friend, is success within the sector of public service. I have learned first-hand what it means to be a public servant through Cooperative Extension, finding that the opportunities are boundless as they continue to reach more and more people within the community.

Service. What does the term mean to you? In these weeks at the Rowan County Extension office, the term has taken shape for me. I believe that service has no limit, no minimum workload and no maximum. We will never have served “enough,” as being a public servant is lifelong to those who choose this profession.

The gauge to how hard one must work to become successful in the public sector is for the servant to decide. I have found that this work ethic is a culmination of one’s own ethics, values and sense of determination. This concept is observed in the way that the Extension agent serves others.

As an N.C. State Cooperative Extension intern, N.C. State University’s motto is, “Think and Do” and to you all, I say, “Watch and See” how our service can positively influence the community. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”

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