A Hawaiian Summer Internship - Valeria

September 5, 2018

Valeria Cano Camacho spent her summer on one of Hawaii’s islands, Big Island, where she was a summer field intern for Ulu Mau Puani. All summer long, she helped with six different projects. Some of those projects included: collecting data, extension and outreach, and lab work.

“It was different every day. Some days I would be hiking up a volcano to find berries and other days I would be working with elementary students and learning about the Kohala Field System,” Valeria said about her favorite part of working on Big Island.

There were two interns from the University of Hawaii, five students from Stanford, and one from Iowa State University at Puanui.   

Valeria’s primary responsibilities were to collect data, mostly by soil sampling and measuring pH, NH4+, and NO3- in the makeshift lab. She also had the opportunity to interact with students of various ages while learning about the Kohala Field System, which is a traditional rain-fed agricultural system.

This internship was different from what she had learned at Iowa State. The projects varied from coastal erosion control to cloud forest canopy research.

She was working in a traditional ag system and it made her think of why things are done the way they are. In fact, one of the duties she had was trimming sugarcane during a community work day.

They could drive a few hours and go from a tropical climate to a dry climate to a temperate climate, that’s how diverse their climates are on that island.

Her coursework and lab work within the department added to her resume, making her appealing to her mentor.

Valeria’s advisor, Dr. Wiedenhoeft, and her mentors, Dr. Emily Heaton and lab grad students, made her feel prepared for the interview process and how she could market herself during that interview. Dr. Cooper also had a large part in how Valeria developed herself as a student here at Iowa State University.

Valeria is a senior this year and also is a student member of MANRRS where she has served as president, vice-president, secretary, and now, their current treasurer. She is also a student cohort for LEAD IT and has been a part of the Dean’s Student Advisory Committee for two years, which allowed her to partake in CALS Strategic Planning Committee. Valeria is also an academic support mentor for the scholarship program Science Bound.