GET TO KNOW ALEXA KLOSKE, AUWRC’S 2023 SUMMER INTERN
Alexa Kloske, a Senior in the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences (CSES) at Auburn University, spent the summer of 2023 interning with the AU Water Resources Center.
Alexa’s interest in water resources goes back to her high school days in Huntsville, Alabama, where she enjoyed presenting at science fairs and doing home science experiments. After growing algae for two years in a spare room in her parent’s house, she realized she may have an interest in pursuing a future in science and chose to do so at Auburn University.
Choosing a Path in Environmental Science
Alexa has a keen interest in how communities can empower themselves to combat threats from climate change. While doing her coursework in the CSES Department, she developed an interest in science communication for broad audiences, leading towards an interest in the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and work with the AU Water Resources Center. “I realized that I wanted to have a larger role in facilitating community resilience and that educating others about environmental topics is definitely something I enjoy,” said Kloske.
Alexa assisting Alabama Water Watch with a stream macroinvertebrate survey.
Finding Opportunities with the AUWRC
Kloske split her time this summer working with the AU Water Resources Center and Dr. Audrey Gamble, an Assistant Professor in the CSES Department. Recounting how she found her internship opportunity, Kloske said she first started networking with Dr. Gamble when they were assigned to each other for the College of Agriculture Alumni Mentoring Program. “One of the best ways to make connections with faculty in our college was through participating in the program. I was able to learn more about the work that is being done across our state, career opportunities, and be introduced to Alabama Extension,” Kloske said. It was through this program that Kloske was able to interact with Jessie Curl, an AUWRC Project Manager, and learn more about getting involved with the AU Water Resources Center, where she would eventually be recruited as an intern for the summer.
During her internship with the AUWRC, Kloske focused on outreach and science communication by developing content pieces and peer-reviewed articles for the Alabama Extension webpage. She also refined the curriculum for both Dr. Gamble’s Soils and Life Lab and Alabama Water Watch’s course curriculum, both of which deepened her understanding of teaching and science communication across ages and backgrounds. Alexa also got to test out new skills as a video producer, developing four educational videos before the end of her internship. Throughout her summer, Kloske assisted with various workshops and educated both children and adults about water pollution during outreach events. When asked what her favorite part of the experience was, Kloske said it was the excitement of crafting diverse and creative educational materials for various platforms and audiences.
Experiences at Auburn University
When asked about her favorite classes taken during her time at Auburn, Kloske fondly recounted her experiences as a member of the award-winning AU Soil Judging Team. The act of “soil judging” was described by Kloske as, “entering a grave of soil and characterizing horizons by using your senses”. Initially intrigued by the name of the class, she eventually joined the team led by Dr. Joey Shaw, Professor Emeritus in the CSES Department.
Alexa and soil judging teammates get deep into their work.
When she isn’t spending her time as a superstar in the lab, soil pits, or a classroom, odds are that you will likely find Kloske playing with the Women’s Club Ultimate Frisbee Team, of which Kloske is the captain of this season. “I joined the team my sophomore year when a friend in the Environmental Science program asked me to come along to practice. I have loved it ever since! Now I get to lead practices, design merchandise, and oversee the general operations of the team,” she explained.
Alexa and the Auburn University Women’s Club Ultimate Frisbee Team
Advice for Students on a Similar Path
“Pay attention in your classes and answer questions so that your professors know you and are,” Kloske says, “They’ll be more willing to answer your emails when you ask for advice or assistance.” She also suggests getting to know the faculty of your department (play kickball with them!).
When asked about her next steps, Kloske says that graduate school is an option, perhaps continuing soil research and heavy metal contamination. She would like to continue her work on educating the public about science and broader soil health. “I am especially grateful for Jessie Curl for being a great mentor, Dr. Brantley, and Dr. Gamble, for giving me this opportunity to learn and grow as a student. My time with the AUWRC and Dr. Gamble has been instrumental in my growth as a student and as a professional,” Kloske said.