NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University's human development and family studies program recently hosted a networking luncheon in the Culinary Café on the university's campus for representatives from community agencies interested in providing internships to SFA students.

During their senior year, SFA students in the human development and family studies program complete 200 internship hours in a practicum course. Therefore, having a network of available sites is essential to the students' and program's success.

"The luncheon was designed as a relationship-building opportunity to get to know the agencies our students work with," said Dr. Rachel Jumper, assistant professor in SFA's School of Human Sciences. "We believe strengthening our relationships with these agencies is mutually beneficial for both them and the students, resulting in better hands-on, professional-development experiences."

Human development and family studies senior Shonda Hortness of Nacogdoches coordinated the event as part of her practicum requirements for Dr. Lisa Mize, coordinator for the human development and family studies program. Hortness said she collaborated with Mize, and that the event was a learning experience as well as beneficial to the program.

"Our goal was to broaden the choices of internship sites for students," Hortness said. "To achieve this goal, we invited representatives from prospective and current sites to share the needs and expectations of our students and ask for feedback from site supervisors."

Program faculty members spoke during the event and visited with attendees to answer questions. Faculty members within the program hope to make the event into an annual affair.

"We gained a few more sites that offer excellent opportunities for students and more have reached out to us asking how to get involved," Hortness said.