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TDA seeks communities to participate in Rural Internship Program


Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced Dec. 30 the Texas Department of Agriculture is seeking proposals from communities interested in participating in the Texas Rural Internship Program. The program introduces urban college students to rural Texas by inviting them to live and work in a small community for five to six weeks.

"We must be proactive in developing leadership to preserve and enhance the rural heritage of Texas," Commissioner Staples said. "The Texas Rural Internship Program provides much-needed interaction between urban and rural Texas, and helps develop some of today's talented college students into tomorrow's leaders."

Through the internship program, TDA works with participating institutions of higher education to facilitate the pairing of students with prospective communities. Communities are responsible for assigning a local coordinator to work with a host family to provide room and board for students.

During the 2009 pilot year, interns performed a variety of tasks benefiting their host communities:

Jan Crouch, Hamilton economic development director, "All of Hamilton appreciated the opportunity to pilot the Texas Department of Agriculture's new rural intern project. Lauren Robinson, a city girl, became a part of our community in the five weeks she was here by participating in many programs and projects such as 4-H Extension, Boy Scouts, economic development, park department and local government, plus actually living with five local families. She says she certainly can envision a rural community in her future. I can assure you, she'd be very welcome to come back to Hamilton."

Lauren Robinson, Hamilton intern and Horticulture Crop Sciences major at Sam Houston State University, "The internship is a great opportunity for students to grow as individuals. During my internship I got to work with many different individuals. I would highly recommend participation in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to any student."

Wendy Ellis, former economic development director for Brady, and now economic development director for Palestine, "The Texas Department of Agriculture's Rural Internship Program was a tremendous experience for our community. It made us stop and honestly analyze the perception others have of our community and identify ways to improve our image. In addition, it created another avenue for us to share our story with individuals in other parts of our great state!"

For more information about the Texas Rural Internship Program, please contact your TDA rural economic development regional representative or Catherine Regan at 512-475-0885.

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