SHELDON—Living in rural Iowa for the summer is a big change for Madeline Robinson, who will be a senior at Iowa State University in Ames this fall.
“I’ve never been to rural Iowa before, and living here, you get a different experience versus just visiting,” said Robinson, who originally is from Cedar Rapids.
But when Robinson learned of the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach summer internship program, she decided to go for it.
The 21-year-old is one of three “Rising Star” interns working in the six counties — Clay, Dickinson, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, Sioux — that make up Region 1 of the Extension program.
She and fellow Rising Star interns Natalee Dippel and Alyssa Rosenbaum are living on the campus of Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon this summer as they work with county Extension offices across Region 1 on various projects.
Robinson is studying liberal studies with a professional field in human development and family studies. She wants to specialize in sexual reproductive health in her future career and said this internship would allow her to learn about the impacts of sexual health curricula in rural communities.
“I don’t know if I want to be involved in research or curriculum development yet,” she said, “so this is kind of giving me a better idea of if I wanted to be more on the research side of things or if I wanted to actually develop and implement the curriculum throughout communities.”
Robinson said she learned of the internship opportunity at the university’s career fair and was interested in applying the research she learned in the classroom to real-world settings.
She has enjoyed meeting new people in the counties for which she has been helping develop sexual health curricula. She will be working with people of all age groups throughout the summer, from young children to people living in nursing homes.
Robinson also has enjoyed being able to explore rural Iowa, even though she said she does not envision herself living in a rural community in the future.
“It’s important to understand how the needs of a rural community differ from an urban community,” she said. “Even if I’m not going to be living in one, it’s still important because curriculum is important throughout all types of communities.”
At ISU, Robinson is a peer mentor for a learning community called Sky is the Limit, where she advises freshmen as they explore different majors and helps them make professional connections.
Outside of school, Robinson enjoys traveling, exploring new towns and visiting museums.
Since her father’s side of the family is from England, she has traveled there as well as to Italy. Two places still on her international travel wish list are Austria and Switzerland
Robinson encourages college freshmen to be open to new experiences, even if they do not sound appealing at first.
“Like going to a rural community didn’t sound enjoyable to me at first, but I’ve actually learned a lot about myself from doing this,” she said. “So just take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.”