Internship Program To Expose Students To Rural Way Of Life

Feb. 1, 2010
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

Students will have the opportunity to get a feel for the country life through a Texas Department of Agriculture internship program facilitated by Gene Theodori, director of the Center for Rural Studies: Research and Outreach.

Through the Texas Rural Internship Program, an initiative of TDA commissioner Todd Staples, students from all academic backgrounds can spend five weeks in the summer working for rural communities all over the state, including Aspermont, Canadian, Friona, Levelland, Muleshoe, Palestine and Zapata.

Theodori will accept 14 students for the summer 2010 program. Six students participated in the pilot program last summer, interning in Brady, Hamilton, Levelland, San Juan and Van Horn.

“There’s a lot of Texas, especially rural Texas, that many of our students haven’t seen. If you grew up in Houston or Dallas or San Antonio, to get out in rural Texas, well that’s a whole different culture,” he said. “That’s the idea behind the program. We want to expose students to the rural way of life because many of them haven’t seen it.

“If you talk to any of the six students who participated this past year, they’ll tell you it was an eye-opener,” he said.

Participants will have the opportunity to work with different agencies and entities, including county commissioners, city officials, chambers of commerce and economic development corporations.

Theodori said he matches students with jobs based on their majors and the community’s needs.

In addition, interns will earn course credit from their academic program, either as an internship or as a directed study, and course requirements will depend on what is worked out in each department. For instance, last year’s sociology majors were required to give a presentation on their experiences at the end of their internship, Theodori said.

Those interested should be either juniors or seniors. The length of the internship will be negotiable and can be scheduled for five-week periods for students interested in taking summer classes during one of the sessions.

Students will be responsible only for tuition and transportation to and from their host town. They will be paid a stipend for their work.

“It’s also important to note that students will receive room and board while they’re there. We ask the communities to provide a host family, at least one,” Theodori said. “One of our students last summer actually moved four times, staying with five different families, and she really liked it.

“As far as travel to and from the community, last year TDA and the communities paid the students’ mileage expenses to the community and back, and then the communities covered any expenses the student incurred while working there,” he said.

The rural internship program is beneficial for students because they can gain real-world experience in the fields they are studying, Theodori said.

Internship assignments will be given on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, or to apply, contact Theodori at or 936.294.4143. In addition, a video of last year’s participants can be viewed at,1460,1848_17081_35651_0,00.html. The sign-up deadline will be at the end of March.


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