Education is seen as a pathway to a career—and it is. Yet college students contribute to their campus and communities as they progress along the path to their degree and career. Emily Rebhan, a University of Wisconsin-Richland sophomore from Cazenovia planning a major in communication, is one example of a student putting her education and passions to work.
Last year, as a freshman, she was elected and served as secretary to UW-Richland Student Senate, a member the campus student government executive committee. Among her other leadership activities is service as vice president of the UW-Richland History Club, vice president for activities with UW-Richland’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and as a peer English tutor. From the age of nine through 19, she was a member of 4-H, most of that time with the South Lime Ridge 4-H Club in Sauk County. Rebhan so valued her 4-H experience that she led efforts last year to established UW-Richland’s Collegiate 4-H group.
Another way to blend her interests and education presented itself last summer when she served her second summer as an intern with UW-Extension Juneau County 4-H with in Mauston.
Taking inspiration from her UW-Richland history professor, Dr. Aharon Zorea, who established the Richland Heritage Project to collect and preserve local history, Rebhan worked to gather oral histories from 4-H volunteers. The purpose of the project was to preserve and share their insights, memories and knowledge. Zorea served as a consultant, helping her understand step-by-step how to accomplish this.
The result is a portfolio of audio recordings and transcripts of interviews with six 4-H volunteers who have served as Juneau County 4-H leaders for from 30 to 60 years. Plans are to share the portfolio with UW-Extension Juneau County in Mauston, to donate copies to the Mauston Public Library and other Juneau County libraries, to share with state and national 4-H, and with the Juneau County Historical Society.
“I saw this project as a way to honor 4-H volunteers for their decades of service,” Rebhan said. “4-H volunteers have made such a positive difference in my life. This is a way I could show appreciation of their investment in kids, like the 4-H adult volunteers who invested their time and energy in me when I was growing up. The project has been personally rewarding.”
Rebhan said that her comfort level with UW-Richland faculty enabled her. “UW-Richland faculty are welcoming, approachable. I’ve made valuable connections with them and have the experience of talking to professionals that I can transfer into the world outside of the campus.”
Judith Kennedy, 4-H Youth Development Agent for Juneau County UW-Extension who supervised Rebhan said, “She’s conscientious, will try anything and have fun with it. Emily understands 4-H and supports active learning. She is a joy to work with.”
For Rebhan, the experience was so positive that she’s continuing it with a new theme this semester as an intern with the Richland Heritage Project. Music is another of her interests. An off-shoot of that interest is a for-credit independent study project, currently underway--collecting oral histories focused on the music culture and heritage of Richland County. Rebhan is interviewing Richland area musician, music teachers and others.
Zorea said, “Emily has the two gifts that are needed for this kind of work--she is a wonderful listener and she has a natural curiosity for human stories.”