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Buffalo's '06 4-H intern to repeat, this time in Pierce

Summer 4-H interns are usually new to extension work.

College students, most bring mainly a background as a member of a related organization--4-H, FFA or the like.

But Pierce County's 4-H intern for this summer already has experience in the job, though from a neighboring county. Denise Burce served in a similar role for Buffalo County last summer, based at the extension office in Alma, her home town. While it won't have the same native feel as that opportunity for her, when Burce learned about the Pierce opening for this year, she decided to apply.

"I know it's important to experience different ways of doing things," she said Tuesday, adding, "I want to try other approaches to youth development and see other styles."

Burce, who was hired the evening of her committee interview here last month, has been given an outline of the upcoming summer's activities by Pierce 4-H Youth Agent Frank Ginther, she said. Although she'll officially begin her responsibilities in June, she's already attended planning sessions for summer camp.

"I'll probably chaperone on an interstate trip for a few days this summer," she said.

It won't be the first time the intern has worked with Pierce County youths. She said some were present when she was on the staff at a past camp near Stillwater, Minn. They participated in such activities as rock climbing, swimming and canoeing. That's also where she originally met Ginther.

Burce said she's been interested in agriculture since she regularly accompanied her father to the dairy farm of her grandparents, John and Maeonne Burce, as a child. (Besides her dad, Dave, and mom, Deb, she has two brothers: Travis at home and Daniel at River Falls.) The Alma area farm had a herd of 20-30 cows.

The 2004 Alma High School graduate took all of the ag classes offered while she was in high school, she said. She was highly active in FFA, particularly involved with ag education for youths younger than her. She helped with fourth grade and sixth grade orientation on such topics as farm safety.

The FFA officer for three years--as historian, secretary and reporter--also headed the local "Food for America" program as a high school senior, she said. Participants brought in animals as well as grain during the effort. The FFA chapter numbered 20-to-25 members in her first years at the school, but later expanded to around 40.

"I have a lot of ambitions," she said when asked about her career goals. She wants to be some type of educator because she enjoys working with youths. She's unsure yet whether it will be a high school or middle school teacher, or perhaps with an extension office.

The junior at UW-River Falls is double majoring in agriculture education and speech/communications education there, she said. She's joined forensics and has an affiliation with student support services.

"When I started at River Falls, I was told about extension, but thought I wouldn't be interested," she said. The more she talked with others about it, however, the more she changed her mind.

That led to her assisting at the office back home last year, compiling project books and doing other tasks, she said. She then heard about the Buffalo County internship, for which she was hired and occupied her summer.

"I did a little bit with the county fair," she said. "I did a Cloverbud Day, guiding seven-year-olds in arts and crafts projects featuring a nature theme. She also contributed to a multi-cultural education unit called "Finding Interesting Variety in Everyone," which she particularly enjoyed.

The 4-H and Youth Agent with whom she worked suggested she consider trying for the Pierce internship this summer, she said.

"I'm really happy I can be a part of the county and experience what's happening here," she said.