Coral Reef High School senior Katherine Flinn spent two weeks this summer as an intern in the Agriculture Discovery Program at the University of Arizona. Flinn loved the program and is now considering applying to Arizona for college, even though she found the climate uncomfortably hot.
“I think when I landed in Phoenix the temperature was going to be 117 degrees,” Flinn says. Once there, Flinn says she found that as long as she drank enough water, the high temperatures were not so bad and the program was terrific.
“One of the first things we did was to actually dissect a goat head,” she says.
They dissected the animal’s head to search the lymph nodes and brain stem for symptoms similar to Mad Cow Disease.
For Flinn, the best thing that came out of the trip was that she discovered what she wants to do with her life
“Before I wanted to enroll in this program, I wanted to be a psychologist,” she says. “I really want to help people.”
Flinn believes she can reach that goal through the agriculture program.
“We went to this research lab in Tucson where they were working to genetically engineer rice to make it more nutritional,” she says, adding that she knows there are people opposed to genetically engineered foods.
“We did talk about that, we met people who were like that,” Flinn says. “A lot of people think it’s unethical. But it’s pretty unethical to let people starve.”
She says there was another lab that was researching agricultural pests like the corn ear worm. “Corn ear worms are a big problem in Florida and in humid places in general,” Flinn says. “Scientists are trying to develop corn that will repel them so farmers don’t have to add so many chemicals and pesticides.”
Flinn says she found it fascinating that they were studying pests such as ear worms in Arizona even though that state doesn’t have a problem with that pest.
“It’s interesting to see how global research is,” she says. “They are researching things for Third World counties and, at the same time, they are researching things for Florida.”
Now that she is considering agriculture as a career, Flinn is interested in working for the United States Department of Agriculture, focusing on relations with other countries.
“I really want to do a lot of things with scientists from other countries,” Flinn says, adding that when she was in the sixth grade she first learned how other people in the world live, that many are subsistence farmers and that they can only grow enough food to feed their families.
“People should have enough food for their families and be able to make money as well. Most people in the world don’t make the equivalent of $3 a day.”
At school, Flinn is in the agricultural club, Future Farmers of America.
“We go to Gloria Floyd Elementary and give a lot of presentations to the kids there,” she says. Flinn is also in Girl Scouts and is working on her Gold Award, a suicide prevention video that will be shown in schools.
“It’s a way of helping people get help,” she says. “I’m trying to get as much information as I can. I’m going to write the script and have my friends appear in it. We’ll talk about the subject and talk about the signs.”
The video was inspired by a friend’s attempted suicide last year.
“I was to take Advanced Placement psychology test (that day) and I learned she had attempted suicide,” Flinn says. “It never left my mind after that.”
Flinn hopes to finish the video by December.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld