Rachel Sanders is a GrowNextGen teacher leader and a science teacher at Global Impact STEM Academy. The Ohio Soybean Council provided a summer externship for Sanders to gain information and create materials for her classroom and the GrowNextGen website. She tells about what she did:

My externship was with Melanie Prarat, a virologist in the Division of Animal Health at the Ohio Department of Agriculture. By participating in this externship, I was able to experience how samples are processed throughout their lab facilities, from the start at Central Receiving, to Necropsy, to Genome Sequencing. This was an awesome experience because it validated the lab skills I am teaching my students in Bioresearch class—solution prep, aseptic techniques, DNA extraction, proper micropipetting skills, and running gel electrophoresis, to just name a few. I also gained insight on how to set up labs to run as they would be in the workplace, such as creating proper documents for data collection and how to communicate results with lab partners.

Through the externship, I also met various people from a wide vast array of careers within Animal Health, including veterinary medicine, biology, chemistry, political science, communications, information technology, animal science, and agriculture.

My biggest take away from this externship experience was seeing how biological data (microbiology, genome sequencing, DNA extractions) is being used as animal health diagnostic tools to not only keep animals healthy but also the public healthy. I am excited to create a relatable introduction activity to bioinformatics to show students how biological databases are being used to protect the health of animals, plants and the public. Watch GrowNextGen.org for this resource! I would also like to create a case study in which students will have to search the National Center for Biotechnology Informationfor DNA information.

Sound interesting? The Ohio Department of Agriculture also offers internships to high school students and college students, which they post on their website.