Program helps children of military families
By Sayde Rayburn
Photo provided by Kirstin Warden
Kirstin Warden, a recent Purdue psychology graduate from Indianapolis, was part of Purdue Extension's Military Extension Internship Program at Indian Head Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center in Maryland.
Kirstin Warden, a recent Purdue psychology graduate from Indianapolis, has always enjoyed working with children. But she didn't expect to be working on a Navy base in Indian Head, Md.
She's at Indian Head Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center as part of Purdue Extension's Military Extension Internship Program. The program gives students practical work experience while they live and work on military installations around the world.
"I wanted to be part of an internship that would allow me to experience a diverse setting and work with children at the same time," Warden said. "This internship did that."
Purdue Extension includes specialists from Purdue Agriculture, Purdue Veterinary Medicine and Purdue Consumer and Family Sciences. The internship is open to all Purdue students, regardless of major.
Warden was stationed at the Navy base for six months, where she worked in the child development center helping caregivers engage with children in the classroom.
Before she actually began her internship, Warden read and watched training materials to better understand what's required of the caregivers. She also made sure to build relationships with the children and administrators.
Learning from working professionals appealed to her. "I am excited about being able to shadow the program director because I have never been able to see how the management side of the operation works," Warden said.
"I am also able to observe the training and curriculum specialist, she guides the caregivers in implementing creative curriculum in the classroom. I have noticed that the positive morale from the management side truly sets the tone for the rest of the center."
One of Warden's tasks was helping the military staff organize summer camps for the children. "This will be a great test for me," she said before she began working on the project. "I will have to put my management skills to use along with working with the children during the summer camps."
Later, she will implement what she learned from interacting with the children at the camps. "I am really excited to put what I am learning to use," Warden said. "I feel that what I can accomplish here will allow me to do better work in the future."
The internship requires Warden to keep a weekly journal and present what she has learned to the internship coordinator.
"We want the students who are in the internship to be able to show us how they have progressed and what they have learned through their internship experience," said Amy Schoot, the Purdue military internship coordinator. "We found that the best way to reach this was by requiring weekly journals."
Warden said she likes keeping a journal because it will help her present what she has learned over her six-month experience.
"I feel that my internship experience will help me in my future endeavors," she said.