Meet the Fall 2021 Interns

Leah McCluskey

Leah McCluskeyLeah McCluskey, from Seymour, CT, plans to graduate this year with a B.S. in marine science with a focus on aquaculture and sustainability. Her goal is to achieve a working understanding of the current use of both terms, and to apply them in her career outside of academics. Leah has been on the Dean’s list every semester to date.  

Leah’s internship focused on building an aquaponics tank system housed in the Lafayette and Rawcliffe 4-H Science and Engineering Learning Center on campus. The new system will be used in new teaching videos for kids in the UMaine Extension 4-H youth development program. She is also recording qualitative data based on students’ responses to the aquaponics learning series to gauge the strengths of the program, as well as what could be changed to allow better understanding. 

When asked why she applied for this internship, Leah says, “I’ve worked with my mentor, Scarlett, for a number of years now and she mentioned the internship to me. After hearing about how I could continue the work I’d been doing and get to forge new connections within Extension, I readily applied.”  Leah hopes to gain skills in qualitative data analysis, and hone interpersonal skills in order to grow as a peer and as a leader.

Though Leah has no previous experience with Extension, including 4-H, she has worked with 4-H members throughout her life and was a member of the Future Farmers of America in CT.  

“I hope to continue to work with kids. They’re so innovative and unaffected by some of the rough parts of life that they have the spark and creativity we all strive to keep alive in our own careers. It’s amazing to hear the questions they think of or to see how their brains work through a problem. It’s admirable and I don’t think I want a career where I can’t continue to learn from them.”

Allison Merriman

Allison MerrimanAllison Merriman is interning with the Maine 4-H Foundation as a student media assistant and interviewer for promotional videos. She is majoring in entrepreneurial art with a focus in photography at USM, and hopes to apply these studies in the field of promotional photography. 

When asked about the appeal of an Extension internship, Allison replied “ I thought it would be a really good opportunity, with the chance to meet new people and fine tune my skills.” While here, she hopes to focus on and grow skills used in video editing, saying “my main passion is for photography, but I’d love to make myself more well-rounded in media overall.” 

Allison’s first love is taking photos of the outdoors and the beautiful state of Maine, then sharing those with viewers across the world. Plans beyond college are still taking shape, but she’s looking at different outdoor-based brands with a goal of working for one as their social media director/manager. 

Over the summer and through the fall, Allison worked with Maine 4-H Foundation interviewing people across the state about their experience with 4-H and learning their stories. She’s had the pleasure of meeting many people with different success stories and is looking forward to hearing many more. 

Allison became involved with 4-H over 14 years ago, starting with showing her dairy cows across New England when she was nine years old. Participating in as many different 4-H clubs and commodities as possible soon followed, gaining knowledge and experience from each one. Allison says, “I was gifted with many unique opportunities in 4-H and am incredibly grateful for each and every one of them.” 

Allison’s favorite activities when not pursuing photography include doing anything outdoors, especially  kayaking and hiking. If it’s rainy out, that time is likely to be used editing all those photos, reading and spending time with her pets.