Climate Ready Midwest summer intern and project manager share project details with other summer interns and supervisors.

Guest Post: Maggie, Climate Ready Midwest Summer Intern

A note from our project manager:

We are so excited to invite our summer intern, Maggie, to the Climate Ready Midwest team! Maggie is working out of the University of Madison – Wisconsin Division of Extension, thanks to funding through an internship program called the Wisconsin Idea Internship Program (WIIP).

We invited Maggie to create a reflective blog post about her involvement in the project. Read on to hear about her and her work!

Blog post from Maggie:

Climate Ready Midwest summer intern and project manager share project details with other summer interns and supervisors.
Maggie (left) and Alli (right) share with other WIIP supervisors and interns about Maggie’s role on the project.

Program Adoption: A Science?

Hi, My name is Maggie Afshar and I am an undergrad student studying Economics and Math at UW Madison. I have career goals of becoming a social program designer and becoming an expert in implementation science. This summer I took on an internship with the Wisconsin Idea Internship Program (WIIP), where I will be working on the Climate Ready Midwest project at Extension. In this blog I will document my goals, experiences, struggles, and successes while working on this project and learning more about climate communication and creating systems change. 

Goals and Interests: 

When I first told my family and friends I was going to be working on a project analyzing climate smart practices in agriculture they were definitely surprised as I have no background in climate sciences or agriculture. But what I do have a background in is analyzing profitability, long term outcomes, and individual and organizational motivations. In the Climate Ready Midwest project our goal is to address the threat climate change poses towards the viability of the agriculture industry in the long run by increasing the adoption of scientifically proven climate-smart agriculture practices through empowering extension educators to think in a more long term systematic perspective and pass this perspective to the agriculture community. Studying what variables need to be present for an industry to shift towards being motivated to adopt climate-smart ag practices and think more with a long term sustainability perspective is what gets me excited about this project. 

At the end of the day we all know that climate change is real and poses a threat to all industry and normal way of life. The current and forecasted effects of climate change are well documented and have been proven through empirical research. So what are the barriers getting in the way of widespread adaptation of climate smart agriculture practices? And how should we weigh the importance of these practices? In my part of the Climate Ready Midwest project I want to answer these questions. I want to analyze where the bottleneck is in implementation of climate smart agriculture practices. My goal is to understand what role extension can play in identifying effective practices, creating implementation strategies for these practices, and fostering an enabling context all to result in improved outcomes of higher adoption of climate smart agriculture practices. 


Currently as we see the project my deliverables to help meet project goals will be:

  1. An Annotated Bibliography
    • Including all my research on climate message framing and informing what variables need to be present and utilized for extension educators to feel empowered to incorporate climate into their programing.
  2. A Recommendations Report
    • This will include my recommendations for different climate messaging plans extension could use, my reasoning behind them, and data gathered from testing each messaging

What Success Looks Like: 

For me personally success will be gaining confidence in qualitative data analysis skills. As someone who mainly focused on math and quantitative data organization in school, having confidence in qualitative data analysis will be incredibly beneficial to me as I pursue a career in research driven social programming. In this project I also hope to gain a better understanding of how research findings can be used and tangibly implemented with the goal of improving a societal issue. Hopefully, through gathering qualitative data from interviews with extension personal and quantitative data from effects of climate smart agriculture practices I will be able to better understand how this data can be used to create recommendations for programming. 

For the project success looks like having more concrete and helpful climate communication tools for extension educators. By giving these extension educators the communication tools they need, we believe this will empower them to include climate change education in their programing that will ultimately result in farmers adopting more climate smart agriculture practices. 

Maggie, summer intern (left) and Alli, project manager (right) at the Extension summer intern orientation.

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