Below are two of the Center's premier educational programs: the Texas Rural Internship Program (TRIP) and the Community-Youth Development Program (CYDP).
Texas Rural Internship Program (TRIP)
The Texas Rural Internship Program is a joint initiative between the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Center for Rural Studies at SHSU.
The program pairs students with host families in participating rural communities for four to eight weeks during the summer, allowing them to experience life in rural Texas towns.
The Texas Rural Internship Program, provides much-needed interaction between urban and rural Texas, promotes rural Texas to attract and retain a talented workforce, helps develop some of today's talented college students into tomorrow's leaders, and cultivates ambassadors for rural Texas.
Interns receive hands-on experience while visiting these small towns and working with the local government, economic development corporations, chambers of commerce, or local vendors. Towns participating in the Texas Rural Internship Program also benefit from the program by hosting the interns.
Any rural Texas community willing to host a college student intern for one or two summer sessions is eligible.
Interns are paid and also receive college credit for participating in the program. All SHSU students are eligible for the Texas Rural Internship Program.
|“When students hear ‘rural internship’ they may think it means spending their summer milking cows; however, that is not the purpose of the program… but if a student wants to go to a farm, he or she can do that.”
Dr. Gene Theodori, Director of the Center for Rural Studies
“This entire experience has allowed me to see the world in a different light. It has given me new experiences I never dreamed of.”
Kamesha Walker, 2011 Rural Intern—Giddings, Texas
|“It was interesting to see how a community works by helping each other out and how the chamber helps the local businesses. I think a lot of people my age don’t think about that…”
Lindsay Byrd, 2010 Rural Intern—Levelland, Texas
Rural Community-Youth Development Program (CYDP)
Community development is facilitated by the ability of local people to mobilize resources to address local needs. Youth are in a position to be among the stable and long term contributors that help guide this process. Youth represent a vast and often untapped resource for immediate and long-term community development efforts (Barnett and Brennan 2006: 2).
Many rural youth struggle to decide whether to stay or leave their communities. Desires to remain tend to be related to family and community ties. However, there is a common perception that if youth leave their communities, their futures might be more promising (Bajema, Miller, and Williams 2002; Hektner 1995; Johnson, Elder, and Stern 2005).
Rural communities across the nation are therefore experiencing a “youth exodus” or, as referred to in the vernacular, a “brain drain.” Rural youth are leaving their home communities once they reach adulthood and many are not returning (Johnson 2005). As rural communities age and populations continue to be “hollowed out”, there appears to be no present workforce or leadership pool ready to promote the continual development of the community (Carr and Kefalas 2009).
To accentuate this issue, rural areas face unique challenges including poverty, less diverse economies and labor markets, poor civic infrastructures, and limited educational and career opportunities (Hektner 1995). With no ready population present to address these challenges, community leaders, practitioners, and policy makers are looking to solve this dilemma. The Community Youth Development Program is one potential solution to the “brain drain” being experienced in rural America.
The overall purpose of the Community Youth Development Program is to educate youth on the functioning and operations of rural communities as well as engaging youth with the intent of inspiring youth to remain in or return to rural America.
This goal is accomplished through the following:
• Demonstration of opportunities in the community for work and careers, for leadership, and for filling gaps and needs within the community.
• Engaging youth in community development - projects, volunteering, policy development, and decision making among businesses, institutions, industries, and organizations.
Youth “provide an invaluable resource for program planning and effective evaluation. As youth are brought into and connected with organizations and civic roles that they have traditionally been excluded from, they can participate in active and equal decision-making at multiple levels” (Barnett and Brennan 2006: 2-3). Through this in-depth engagement, youth will be linked to real outcomes, and feedback loops with youth, practitioners, and policy advocates will be created (Perkins, Borden, and Villarruel 2001).
• Forming partnerships between youth and adult leaders.
The involved “partnership represents youth taking action with adults to be producers of their own development and shapers of their communities” (Perkins et al. 2001: 47).Youth are fully invested in their community and are empowered as full partners to provide direction, insight, energy, and efforts around problem-solving in the community (Perkins et al. 2001: 48).
• Building connections between youth and the community, individuals, and organizations.
“As youth engage in more sustained positive relationships with adults, other youth, and community organizations, they will learn that they are valued citizens of their communities. Such collaborations will lead to skill enhancement and confidence building traits, which will help prepare them for navigating toward adulthood” (Barnett and Brennan 2006: 3).
• Developing and utilizing:
o Leadership skills
o Interpersonal, social, and communication skills
o Job-related skills
o Problem-solving skills
o Civic-engagement skills
o Decision-making skills
The Community Youth Development Program “involves creating opportunities for young people to connect to others, develop skills, and utilize those skills to contribute to their communities” (Perkins et al. 2001: 46-47).
The Community Youth Development Program is comprehensive and inclusive. Applied education is encouraged to occur throughout the community—not just in specific projects or in limited areas—as youth interact with multiple sectors across the community (Perkins et al. 2001).Additional goals of the Community Youth Development Program include:
• Fostering citizenship among youth in rural communities
• Creating a culture of participation
• Promoting a sense of belonging, mastery, generosity, and independence in youth participants
• Encouraging communities to rethink their investment in local youth
• Nurturing sustainable community development through youth involvement and investment
WHAT IS INVOLVED
• Three day summer camp for rural community high school students at Sam Houston State University
• Half day training for supervisors in the community
• Four week paid internship for students with a local business or organization
• Informal rotation among community organizations and businesses
• Student engagement in a shared community project
For more information or if your community is interested in particpating in the Rural CYDP program contact Cheryl L. Hudec at firstname.lastname@example.org or 936-294-4380.