Perspectives Online

Golden Opportunity - Kristi Tutor, Philip Morris intern, experiences a full range of Extension programming.

Working as an intern in Johnston County’s Extension programs — including many tobacco-related activities — sold Kristi Tutor (above) on a future career in Cooperative Extension.
Photo courtesy Kristi Tutor

For Kristi Tutor, a junior animal science major from Wake County, it was a long, hot summer, working as an intern with North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Johnston County. And when it was over, she wasn’t ready to go back to being a student.

From 4-H youth activities (top), to horticultural crop work (middle) to meetings with Rep. Bob Etheridge (bottom), Tutor’s internship offered a spectrum of opportunities.
Photos courtesy Kristi Tutor
Tutor was one of three Philip Morris Interns from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the only one this year to work at an Extension center. The others were Callie McAdams, a senior animal science major who worked with tobacco specialists, and Jill Allison, a sophomore biochemistry major, who worked in a campus lab.

Johnston County Extension Director Bryant Spivey, who works with tobacco growers, spent much of his time with Tutor over the summer. But to give her a broader look at Extension, he asked all staff members to include her in their programming.

“It was a very good thing for her, and it worked out well for us also,” Spivey said of the internship program.

Now Tutor is a cheerleader for Cooperative Extension and an Extension agent in the making. “I fell in love with it,” she said, smiling broadly.

The Philip Morris Internship program offers participants both academic credit, as well as a work salary. “Philip Morris is making an investment in people who will go into work with tobacco, so the interns work in labs on campus or they work in the field with agents,” said Marcy Bullock, director of the College’s Career Services program.

At the end of the internship, the interns go to Philip Morris headquarters in Richmond, Va., to present information on what they did during the internship. The experience helps students develop communication skills and increases their marketability when seeking employment, Bullock said.

In Johnston County last summer, Kristi Tutor was exposed to the county’s full range of Extension programming, including family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development and horticulture.

It’s easy to see why the experience was so meaningful. Tutor carries two albums with the photos she collected from her internship this summer. There are shots of Tutor doing a radio interview, attending and teaching workshops, milking a goat, sampling honey from a bee hive, working with 4-H’ers at a “Mind Your Manners” camp, and meeting Congressman Bob Etheridge, just to name a few. The cover of one album shows a smiling Tutor holding a “bouquet” of tobacco flowers topped from plants.

She is most proud of some things she was able to achieve on her own. For instance, she conducted a workshop on FAMACHA, a goat de-worming program, for 22 participants, 10 of whom were certified in the practice. She also appeared on a local radio talk show to describe the workshop.

Tutor availed herself of the expertise of Extension professionals, such as retired 4-H agent Lou Woodard (top, center). News of Tutor’s goat-care workshop (bottom) was featured on a local radio show.
Photos courtesy Kristi Tutor
Tutor developed a calculation model to help tobacco growers’ determine their labor costs. She also installed gas meters and curing controllers on tobacco barns that save growers’ an average of 40 to 60 gallons of fuel.

Tutor participated in Johnston County’s agribusiness tour, a tobacco tour and a nursery and greenhouse tour. She helped judge 4-H presentations at district activity day. She also helped the county Extension staff conduct an environmental scan.

Bullock said that the College’s Career Services offers a variety of internships for students through a five-university database. “This is just one of many opportunities for students to get a foot in the door,” she said.

For her presentation at Philip Morris, Tutor put together a Power-Point show describing her experiences. She said she had considered Extension work after talking with a Wake County agent about the experience, but the internship sold her. Now she is considering adding some classes to her undergraduate program and pursuing a master’s degree.

Spivey, who successfully dodged Tutor’s camera much of the summer, said the staff was sad to see her go in August. “Kristi was one of the family when she left here,” he said.