GREENVILLE — The 2015 growing season, with its excessive rain, has been an interesting one for farmers in Western Ohio.
It has also proved an educational experience for one young lady serving as an intern with the Darke County Extension Office of the Ohio State University.
Taylor Dill, entering her junior year of the Agronomy program at Wilmington College this fall, finishes her internship at the office Thursday.
A 2013 graduate of Tri-Village High School, Dill, 20, is the daughter of Tom and Sue Dill of Hollansburg. Her internship, though unpaid and uncredited, provided her an opportunity to expand her agricultural skills and knowledge throughout the summer.
“I wanted to have the internship experience to find out what part of agronomy I liked the best,” she said. “I think I’ve found nutrient management most interesting, but also seed research and manure science.”
As part of her internship, which began May 12, Dill has shared space in the office of Sam Custer, OSU extension educator. Like Custer, she pulled on boots to walk through fields as well as participating in various agricultural programs.
“It’s been really great. Sam’s a great guy,” said Dill. “As he’s one of the best educators within the state, I felt lucky to work with him. I learned a lot just sitting in the office here.”
The feeling, according to Custer, is mutual.
“It’s been a real pleasure to have Taylor working with us,” said Custer. “She’s always willing to do everything we’ve asked, working side by side with me. I probably learned as much from her as she did from me.”
As an intern, Dill said that she, among other interns around the state, have been counted on to act as “eyes and ears” of Ohio’s State’s Agricultural Research and Development Center.
“We’ve helped their research, looking for specific things they wanted us to find. For example, an entomologist had us looking for stink bugs.”
“I did find one,” she said, laughing.
While the wet conditions have been troublesome for area crop growers, Dill said the experience has been educational, nonetheless.
“This year, being so wet, was good for certain diseases to grow, allowing us to see things we don’t normally see,” she said. “You don’t want to see them develop on the crops, but when they do, you’ll learn what to look for.”
Custer believes Dill’s time as an intern has paid dividends now and will continue to do so in her future.
“She’s learned an extremely large amount of information this summer, learning about soil nutrients, scouting fields for insects and diseases — real hands-on agronomy,” he said. “She’s reached a level that’s as good as most educators in the state.”
“She’s also developed a great ability to communicate,” he added. “Half our job is talking with people, helping educate them.”
Dill faced competition for the position when she applied this spring.
“We had seven people who interviewed for the internship,” said Custer. “She was our choice. She came highly recommended.”
This is the first year for the internship, and Custer said he hopes it isn’t the last.
“The person who wrote the grant for the internship this year is working to write another grant for funding next year,” he said.
Agricultural students interested in a possible internship next spring should contact Custer at the Darke County Extension Office by phone at 937-548-5215.