Ag Ed Student Finds What Sets Her Soul on Fire
In Minnesota, county fairs are a common occurrence throughout the summer. Last summer, Janelle Hueners got to experience an event similar to those familiar fairs while in Mexico. She spent two months in Magdalena, Sonora serving as an Expo Esperanza Intern for The Fatted Calf. According to their website, the goal of the Fatted Calf’s internship program is to “attract motivated young people with servant hearts to further the mission of The Fatted Calf as well as develop character and professionalism in the interns to take back home and incorporate into their communities.” During her internship, Janelle helped youth prepare for Expo Esperanza, which she compares to a county fair.
Having grown up on her family’s hobby farm in Lindstrom, Minnesota, Janelle was also active in 4-H and FFA. She is currently a junior studying Agricultural Education with minors in International Agriculture and Animal Science. On campus Janelle is involved in several activities including the Agricultural Education, Communication and Marketing Club, Beta of Clovia sorority, the Gopher Poultry Science Club, National Agri-Marketing Association, and the Agricultural Education, Communication, and Marketing Peer Mentor Program.
Although Expo Esperanza may have taken place in a different country, it took just as much preparation as a county fair. Janelle spent the first month of her internship developing curriculum for agricultural classes and working with the animals that would be used for Expo Esperanza. Janelle says that the coursework she completed Agricultural Education classes prepared her to develop this curriculum and teach classes to kids ranging from age five to 17. While teaching, Janelle covered a range of topics that included gardening, woodworking, horses, chickens, and demonstration.
Janelle values what she gained outside of the classroom in Mexico. “I was able to learn about a culture completely different than my own, which I loved,” she said. In addition to exploring a new culture and improving her Spanish skills, Janelle also made many meaningful connections with other interns and their students. Many of the students Janelle worked with came from challenging backgrounds. These students are without a guardian to care for them and live in a group home, comparable to a foster care system. Through this experience, Janelle said she also gained a deeper understanding of social interactions because she learned how to work with people who come from different backgrounds than herself.
For example, there was a certain student who was very excited about his gardening class and the tomato plant he was growing. He told Janelle stories about how he spent hours watching over the pot closely for any insects that might harm his plant. During Expo, this student ended up winning his age division. Janelle describes the sense of pride she felt after seeing one of her students succeed as being “incredible.”
To other students looking for an international internship Janelle advises, “Figure out what sets your soul on fire. Once you figure that out, be fiercely driven in finding a way to turn that fire into a possible career.” This summer helped Janelle live by her own advice. After immersing herself in an unfamiliar culture, Janelle reaffirmed that she wants to work in agriculture on a global scale. “Exploring these new cultures while sharing my own knowledge of agriculture is where I see my passions intertwining. There is so much to explore in this world, and I intend to do just that.”