Kansas Department of Agriculture – Leigh Ann Maurath

Gov Brownback & Leigh Ann

WIBW & LeighAnn

My summer was filled with engaging conversations, caring individuals, an expanded understanding of Kansas agriculture, opportunities for growth and some of the best memories.

I interned with the Kansas Department of Agriculture through the Governor’s Office Internship program this summer. I was part of the marketing team and worked closely with the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s From the Land of Kansas Program. The Kansas Department of Agriculture’s headquarters are in Manhattan.

The From the Land of Kansas trademark program’s goal is to support businesses that grow, produce, process or manufacture products in Kansas. I learned there are many different ways they aim to help businesses achieve their goals. Growing up on a primarily row crop operation in western Kansas, I gained a better understanding of Kansas agriculture outside of row crops.

I heard about the internship from a friend who had interned at KDA the previous summer.

One of my favorite projects this summer was to write stories and craft social media campaigns for members of the program for our blog and social media outlets. I traveled to many different parts of Kansas to interview different companies. I learned how to make cheese from start to finish. I learned how one family is using their pumpkin patch to tell the story of agriculture. I learned about the buffalo producers in Kansas. I learned what the life of a vegetable producer looks like. I learned how a barbecue company sets out to be remarkable in all they do. And I was reminded through each visit, just how proud I am to call Kansas my home. The From the Land of Kansas program offers a helping hand to the people who make this state a great place to live and work.

This summer I refined my writing skills and ability to communicate with consumers through forming social media posts and campaigns. I learned what an eight-hour office day looks like and how to manage real world project assignments. I am thankful I worked with some phenomenal people who know the agriculture industry, are willing to answer questions and are filled with a desire to impact the industry.

I would recommend this internship to anyone interested in expanding their knowledge of Kansas agriculture, enjoys sharing the story of Kansas agriculture, and wants a very hands on internship. With each internship I’ve had, I learn a little bit more about what I want to end up doing when I graduate college. Someone told me this summer that you learn what you really like and what you really don’t like during internships. And someday, you’ll have a job that you really love full of the things you really like.

This summer, I got one step closer to that dream job.

To apply, check out the online application process at: https://governor.ks.gov/serving-kansans/internship.

Kansas Department of Agriculture – Emily Writer

This past summer, following my junior year at K-State, I worked at the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) as a communications intern in Manhattan, Kansas.

KDA is a state agency that strives to serve farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses through its programs and divisions. Being on the communications team gave me the opportunity to develop my skills and expand my knowledge by working on a variety of projects.

When I started my internship, I had experience using the Adobe Creative Suite, some knowledge of how to write press releases, and no experience managing social media accounts for anyone but myself. Now that I have spent four months working for KDA, I am very comfortable using Adobe, can easily put together a press release, and I am still responsible for creating social media content.

The thing I respected most about being an intern is that from day one, my boss put trust in me and handed me responsibilities, including social media. While this definitely made me nervous, it forced me out of my comfort zone and became one of the most rewarding parts of my job. There’s nothing that beats the feeling of seeing your work shared because only you know the time and energy that went into creating it.

In addition to creating social media content, I also wrote press releases and designed handouts to be used by various programs. Like social media, these tasks allowed me to gain a lot of experience and helped me develop my skills even further.

Being an intern at KDA has been a great experience and I have learned so much, not only about agriculture and communicating, but also about myself. I’ve learned to trust in myself and my abilities, and I’ve learned that I am capable. Sure, I made mistakes, but I was able to learn from them, and that’s what’s important.

If you’re interested in working in a fun environment with people who are passionate about agriculture and will push you out of your comfort zone to help you become a better communicator, then you should consider applying to be an intern at KDA. Internships are available year round and KDA is a great place to work during both the summer and the school year as it is conveniently located close to campus.

The internship is offered through the Governor’s Office Internship Program, which you can learn more about here.

Kansas Soybean Association – Dana Schultz

Dana kssoybean

As the summer after my sophomore year quickly approached, I realized my resume was seriously lacking in professional experiences. I needed a summer internship, but I was a little behind. Everyone else was already applying and interviewing for prospective positions. I scoured every website for potential summer internship. I found one on the Career Employment Services website in Topeka, Kansas for the Kansas Soybean Association and Commission. My family grows soybeans and I had a little bit of knowledge on commodity organizations. The post simply stated it was a summer internship with a variety of responsibilities and duties. During the interview, they decided I was the right fit for the position and we set a date for me to start.

One of my major projects was designing and collecting data for the Kansas Congressional Districts report. I used the United States Department of Agriculture’s website to gather statistics about agriculture. These statistics focused on quantity and dollar amounts of crops and livestock raised in the United States. The report was organized to show total production amounts in Kansas, total production amounts for Kansas counties, and where Kansas ranked among other states. The crops recognized were soybeans, corn, wheat, sorghum and sunflowers, and the animal products included beef, pork, milk, wool, and honey. Once I had all the information, I designed graphics and illustrations to display this information. Once designed and thoroughly proofed, I presented the printed and electronic version to Kansas Senators and Representatives in Washington D.C. during the National Biodiesel Conference.

I was also in charge of planning the annual Corporate Tour. Each year, the Commission and Association board members travel to a different part of Kansas to tour local agriculture business and meet area members for a few days. During my internship, McPherson, Kansas, was the destination. I was in charge of contacting caterers, meeting venues, restaurants, businesses, and potential guests. I had to keep accurate records of all communication that took place and report all the options for everyone in the office to vote on. Once the itinerary was finalized, I designed and mailed invitations and personally contacted board members to gather a number of attendees. The trip included a tour of Lindsborg, Kansas, a tour of AgCo in Hesston, Kansas, a tour of McPherson’s oil refinery, a tour of PrairieLand Partners, a tour of the Hesston, Kansas lawn mower factory, a meeting at the McPherson Opera House, meals catered during lunch and dinners at local restaurants.

Among other smaller office duties, I created and mailed the annual Biodiesel Survey, traveled to farm shows to promote soy products, updated the membership data used in presentations, presented a soy products presentation to the Emerging Leaders Academy, and attended various conferences for soy products and biodiesel.

My internship started in May of 2014 and ended in August of 2014. This internship was a great opportunity to meet industry professionals, travel, boost communication skills and sharpen professional abilities. The people I worked with were great at finding the balance between a learning college student and a business professional. They were flexible with me and constantly pushed me to do my absolute best. I learned how to better connect my presentations and designs to the audience and to keep accurate records of communications while planning an event. This is a great internship for anyone who isn’t quite sure where they want to go in the industry. The supervisors easily tailor the internship to build your experience to fit your goals.

To apply for the Kansas Soybean Commission internship, visit http://kansassoybeans.org/forms/ or contact Kenlon Johannes at Johannes@kansassoybeans.org.

United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development – Jacob Pletcher

I interned with the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development May 18 through September 30, 2015. Luckily the USDA RD is very flexible with their Pathway Interns, so I had the opportunity to continue my internship during the first month and a half of school.

I learned about this internship through my wonderful mother who works on the business and industry side of USDA RD. The internship fit extremely well into what I wanted to do during the summer and it was geared mostly towards writing rather than design, which is what I was looking for. Another appealing part of the internship was the location: Topeka, Kansas. With the internship being located in Topeka, I was able to commute back and forth from my hometown with both of my parents, which was a blessing and a curse.

During the internship I was able to hone my writing skills with the help of a very understanding supervisor that was willing to give me thorough feedback. I did not know how to write a press release or how to send out a newsletter. However, with the help of my supervisor, I was able to learn and develop vital skills that a communicator needs.

A typical day at the office for me started around 7:30 a.m. where I would mostly write press releases, create inner office and statewide newsletters, design invitations for upcoming USDA workshops, and work on the Kansas USDA RD page. Office interaction was limited, but when the office was able to get together, we had a fun time. All four of the interns planned a social interaction event where we cooked food and played a life-size game of clue. This was a great way to interact with people in the office that I never had a chance to intermingle with.

My favorite part of my internship would definitely have to be the trips I made to grant/loan recipient sites to do success stories. All of the businesses or individuals that receive grants or loans were so grateful for the financing that they received and they opened their doors to pictures and my questions without hesitation. The personal interaction with these people made it easy to write about and highlight their operations.

I would recommend this internship to anyone who is wanting a communications experience that has more writing than design opportunities. I do not know if this internship will be available again next year. Since USDA RD is a federal agency, this internship heavily depends on the budget for the fiscal year. If you are curious about the availability of an internship with USDA RD, please contact Jessica Bowser at 785-271-2701 or Jessica.Bowser@ks.usda.gov.

Kansas Department of Agriculture – Dandi Thomas

This summer I interned at the Kansas Department of Agriculture as a Communications Intern. I was located in Manhattan, Kansas in the Manhattan office, which allowed me to stay in Manhattan for the summer. I started my internship at the beginning of May and am still holding the position.

I learned about this internship through the agricultural communications and journalism listserv and applied through the Governor’s Internship Program at the beginning of May. I applied for the summer internship, but they also have fall and spring internships as well.

Through college I had the opportunity to have several jobs, each one more pertinent to my major than the next. When I applied for this internship, I felt like it could suit me extremely well and get me moving in the direction I wanted to with my career and resume, more so than the campus jobs I had had in the past.

My internship was directly under Megan Macy, the Director of PR for the agency. My duties included graphic design, website design, social media management and content creation, as well as other communication duties.

In the beginning, I was assigned various projects for other departments at KDA and was told to work with their department heads. This proved to be very challenging for me. Though updating the documents and creating their web pages was fairly easy, teaching and helping the other departments about what communications does was very difficult. I found myself having to explain things many times and had to redo several pages because the communication between the department and myself was clouded and unclear. This first few weeks of my internship taught me a very useful lesson about working with people outside of communications, and how to help them create their vision even if they don’t know how to communicate what they want at first. This lesson will forever stay in my mind, helping me be more dynamic in the workplace.

Through the rest of my internship, I was given a few projects but was given the reins to make those projects what I wanted them to be. My passion is graphic design, so most of my projects were focused around becoming a better designer and creating pieces that can be transformed into other multi-media designs.

Another great experience I was able to have with KDA was the gathering of marketing materials for other departments. I was able to set up appointments with animal breeders and shelters across the state, and travel with Megan to take photographs of animals and facilities. This was a good experience to help me strengthen my photography skills and work with others while shooting photos.

To this date, I have created and worked on over 50 projects for the Kansas Department of Agriculture and have enjoyed the experience thoroughly. The networking connections and experiences that I have been able to have through this internship will be exponentially important to my career.

I would recommend this internship to anyone interested in creating great portfolio pieces and gain experience in social media, designing, and marketing.

The Nutrients for Life Foundation – Emily Velisek

Everyone at school thought it was awesome that I would be working in D.C. all summer, but for me it was almost what made me not want to take this internship.

This summer I was lucky enough to work for The Nutrients for Life Foundation (NFL). This is a not-for-profit organization that is within The Fertilizer Institute, which is the lobbyist group for fertilizer.

Since I lived in Maryland my whole life, D.C. was not as exciting to me as other students thought when I told them that is where I would be working for my summer.

I guess I did not realize how long it had actually been since I had made the trip down to D.C.. The first few weeks were great because I had the chance to go walk around during my lunch and remember so much from when I was a kid! By the end though I definitely remembered why I did not enjoy D.C.. A lot of it had to do with the commute, but also with how crowed it gets during the summer.

Anyways, once I realized that, I spent more time in the office. I started my internship on May 18th and ended on August 14th. Those 14 weeks flew by and before I knew it, my summer was over.

I could not be more grateful for this internship and lucky that my neighbor helped me get it. I learned a lot about fertilizer and soil, which is a different side of agriculture than what I am used to. I grew up on an Angus cattle farm and showed cattle all my life, so getting to see a different area of agriculture was great for me and I found it very interesting.

I started my internship off by getting asked if I support fertilizer. Not a typical question you get in an interview for a summer internship but I was happy to answer. I am lucky enough to have family that farms about 4,500 acres and have two uncles that work at one of the largest fertilizer companies in Maryland. So my answer was pretty easy: “Yes, I support fertilizer.”

From there I got a project assigned to me for the International Year of Soils, which just happened to be 2015! I started out by doing a lot of research on soil and learning as much as I could. After that I got to work, starting with writing an article for NFL’s Fall 2015 magazine. Once I finished that, I sent it to two of my superiors to edit. While they were editing that I started to work on a blog post and then a blurb for their newsletter. From that I went on to two of the harder parts of my project, making a Facebook cover photo and a video. The cover photo did not seem to take me too long but the video was a challenge. I got the video finished but it did not turn out exactly how I would have liked it.

Some of my other responsibilities were to clean out the database, which may have been the worst thing ever but I know it really helped them. I also did a few things in Excel for people that work at The Fertilizer Institute, which was nice since I knew how to use Excel and could get those done relatively fast.

Kansas Governors Internship Program- Dan Martin

Last summer I applied for a summer internship with the Governors Internship Program.  I was hoping to work policy at the Kansas Department of Agriculture but considering it was summer and legislature was not in secession that option was ruled out. Instead I was offered to work with the Kansas Water Office as a communications intern.

The Kansas Water Office (KWO) conducts water planning, policy, marketing and coordination throughout the state. They also make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature for needed legislation to ensure water policies and programs address the needs of all Kansans.

The plan for my summer was to help with the 50 year Water Vision for Kansas regarding social media and anything in relation to social media. Also as part of the Governors Internship Program, we had the opportunity to see how other agencies conducted business.

Through out the summer I helped develop social media plans to promote the Kansas Water Vision tour that was taking place across the state of Kansas in the first week of June.  Also a part of my job was to track news articles through google alerts that were in relation to the Water Vision and to collect them on a database. As the summer progressed, I was doing press releases for the Basin Advisor Committee Meetings (BAC) and the new members of the BAC. I also helped start the Water Wednesday this usually included a random fact followed by an info graph.  At times I would ask Kansas Department of Agriculture for guidance with social media, so we could build a platform for our followers on Twitter and our Facebook page.

Another part of my internship was to attend different agencies and see how they were governed and to give us broader options if any of the participants wanted to continue working for the state government. The first agency we toured was Kansas Wildlife Parks and Tourism (KWPT), the attorney from KWPT explained the different areas of the agency, after the briefing we got to shoot archery, fish and shoot shotguns for the rest of the afternoon. The next agency we toured was the Department of Corrections, we went to a women’s prison outside of Topeka where they gave us tour of the prison then had a couple of the ladies their tell their stories of how they were locked up and what their plans were after they got out. This was very insightful not really knowing anything about the Department of Corrections. The last thing we got to do before the internship was over was go to the top of the Capitol Building. It was a neat experience to look out over Kansas that high up. To conclude the internship we went to Cedar Crest (the Governors home) where we talked about our experience as interns and what we did. We were handed a certificate as well for completing the Governors internship program.

Through my experience in the Governors Internship Program, I gained great knowledge about state government and what it takes to run an agency. Going through the program has also given me an insight for my future in state politics. I would highly recommend anyone interested in state government or politics to be apart of the program. It is a great opportunity to make connections in the state from across the country.