NCAT Intern Alum Spotlight: Checking In With Dr. Chelsey Ahrens

NCAT Intern Alum Spotlight: Checking In With Dr. Chelsey Ahrens
Dr. Chelsey Ahrens
Dr. Chelsey Ahrens. Photo by Robyn Metzger, NCAT.

In October, the Southeast office staff was delighted to host one of our former interns, Chelsey Ahrens, for a day of training and resource-sharing. Chelsey interned with us back in the summer of 2009, when she was an undergraduate student at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. She helped produce several resources for the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, including an updated version of the Small Ruminant Toolbox, the publication Sheep: Sustainable and Organic Production, and the webinar Sheep & Goats: What They Can Do for You!

During Chelsey’s visit, NCAT Livestock Specialist Linda Coffey and Southeast Regional Director Margo Hale provided hands-on integrated parasite management training using the sheep and goats on Linda’s farm. They also discussed Extension agents’ and producers’ information needs, and ways that NCAT and Extension can collaborate to meet those needs. The NCAT team enjoyed reminiscing with Chelsey about her internship, and finding out what she’s been up to the past few years.

Q: You were working on your Bachelor’s degree when you interned at NCAT. You’ve been busy since then!

I decided late in my junior year of undergrad that I wanted a master’s in agricultural leadership. I had been involved in 4-H and FFA growing up and took a few leadership classes at U of A. Casandra Cox was the instructor of these leadership courses and it was through her that I learned there was a such major as agricultural leadership. After much research, I decided I wanted to go through the University of Georgia program.

After graduating with my bachelor’s in Animal Science with minors in Agricultural Business and Agricultural Communications, I interned at the Arkansas State Fair in the livestock department. Later, I was hired as the director of marketing. I was in that role while taking online classes during the first semester of my master’s. As the marketing director, I was able to use what I learned from my agricultural communications minor and apply it in a professional setting. I really enjoyed agricultural communications and after working for the state fair I decided that’s what I wanted to pursue for my Ph.D. After researching and visiting three schools, I decided Texas Tech was where I would get my Ph.D.

Q: What are your duties as a Specialty Livestock/Youth Education Specialist with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service?

I have two main responsibilities. The first one is the Specialty Livestock part of my title. “Specialty livestock” is considered anything other than beef cattle and horses—that means dairy cattle, sheep, goats, and hogs mainly. I’m here to field questions, put on workshops, and write articles. My second main responsibility is the Youth Education part of my title. I am responsible for the 4-H Animal Science program in the state. I facilitate events and activities, host workshops, write articles, and maintain social media sites pertaining to 4-H Animal Science in Arkansas.

Q: How did your internship with NCAT impact you personally and professionally?

Personally, it allowed me to enhance my editing and writing skills. It also helped to teach me about how to find scholarly, creditable sources when researching for an article. Professionally, it allows me to use my connections with NCAT to collaborate on projects, share articles, and to use each other as resources. I’m very glad I was given the opportunity to intern with NCAT because the relationships I made while there are greatly helping me in my current position.

For more information and to access publications and resources from the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, visit

To locate Extension services in other states, see the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Partners and Extension Map at Partners and Extension Map.


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