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Student Spotlight: AEC Interns

Posted: August 2, 2015

Maya Yakobi, Emily Newman and Hillary Yarger bring energy, fresh ideas to the AEC this summer
Maya, Emily and Hillary fish sampling!

Maya, Emily and Hillary fish sampling!

The Agriculture and Environment Center has been fortunate to have three talented interns join our team this summer. By using skills learned inside and outside the classroom, they have dived head first into engaged scholarship opportunities by making a difference in local communities and the environment.

Maya Yakobi works out of our University Park office. She graduated in May with a degree in Community, Environment and Development (CED). Her first week she dove right in, participating in an intense, two-day all-hands meeting of researchers in the Penn State Center for Nutrient Solutions. It was a crash course in the AEC’s collaborative problem solving approach.

“With the AEC, I find myself knee-deep in relevant experiences,” says Maya. “Working on a variety of cross-sector partnerships makes me confident I’m gaining the skills to be an effective problem solver.”

Maya feels the center’s innovative, solution-based initiatives are exactly the kind of exposure undergrads need. “And we have fun doing it!” she adds.

Emily Newman also works out of University Park. Emily will be a senior this fall, majoring in Environmental Resource Management (ERM). She has a strong appreciation for the breath of organizations with which the AEC partners and how this is helping her decide her academic and professional future.

“Having the opportunity to network in fields that I could see myself working in has helped define a better path for me to follow for classes to take, skills to develop and areas of research to look into,” notes Emily.

Interns - fish sampling

Maya learning to ID fish during a fish sampling in partnership with SRBC

Earlier this summer, Emily planned and delivered a successful stormwater workshop for homeowners in Harris Township. She continues to take the lead in building relationships with the Borough of State College and other local watershed partners interested in stormwater programming.

“Working with Centre County community members to put on the homeowners workshop was an incredible experience,” says Emily. “It is exciting to help facilitate shared goals and collaborative learning spaces to discuss issues like urban stormwater and local water quality. We’re making a difference locally.” 

Hillary Yarger works from our Harrisburg campus office with Kristen Kyler, AEC Lower Susquehanna Project Coordinator. Like Maya, Hillary graduated in May from the CED program. She will be pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration at Penn State Harrisburg in the fall.

Hillary also saw the importance of experiencing partnership building and collaboration first hand. “I really valued this summer getting to meet a variety of organizations and stakeholders all uniting around the common cause of bettering our environment,” Hillary reflects. This allowed her to put her strong community engagement skills to use.

She also got to experience some new things.

 “I never imagined I would be spending my days wading in streams, planting trees, or learning about manure management,” she says with a laugh. “But I’ve enjoyed it. It’s important to be open to new experiences.”

Maya will stay on board with the AEC this fall and both Emily and Hillary will continue as interns through the 2015-16 academic year.

“Our interns bring an energy level, fresh ideas and a work ethic that strengthens our office,” says AEC Director Matt Royer. “With Maya, Emily and Hillary on board this summer we have elevated our game. We’re thrilled to have them around a bit longer!”