Wilson/Kedley Cattle Company – Deven King

The Best of Both Worlds

I didn’t have the typical internship by any means. In fact the job just kind of fell in my hands when I got the phone call from the Wilsons, however, as the saying goes sometimes the best things in life are unexpected. I spent the summer working for Wilson/Kedley Cattle Company. By far the most beautiful cattle facilities I’d ever seen, a show barn kid like myself would have killed to grow up around an incredible set of cows. It sound like a lot of cattle work doesn’t it? That’s what I thought too, but that isn’t what the owners had in mind. To my surprise I quickly found I would get the opportunity to work with individuals in every aspect of the cattle industry.

Charlie Wilson, Owner, was the one who approached me with the idea. He was aware that I had recently switched majors and transferred to Kansas State. This was exciting for him as he felt my ability to write could be a huge asset for marketing the company and primarily the cattle. I was there to help picture all the cattle and pick the pictures we’d use. I decided which magazines we would advertise with and handled contacting people about designing the ad layouts. With my previous experience with the Black Hawk Livestock judging team, I was the perfect one to write about cattle descriptions and even take phone calls to describe cattle to potential buyers. While this doesn’t sound much more complicated then what your average cattle company sales team would do I got to manage a lot of other things too.

As a way of thanking customers both past and present I got to work on redesigning the company logo and then work with Purina on getting the cost of the hats sponsored. By agreeing to put there logo on the back we worked out a deal where they would pay for a certain percentage of whatever we ordered. While working with Purina on the hat deal I also got them to agree to host a fitting and feeding clinic that we would host at the Wilson facilities. They sent a representative out who discussed feeding techniques and what each product was meant to do while Charlie Wilson went over and displayed how to properly wash, clip, and fit a show animal. The turnout was tremendous. I invited 50 local people through Charlie’s Facebook page I was running, and just over 40 showed up. Once rumor got around about how educational and beneficial the evening was, the local county fair approached me about organizing the event again at the county fair.

This would prove to be a bit more of a challenge. Purina and Charlie agreed to the idea immediately agreed to idea but I would have to battle the hardships of the county fair board and how there sponsorships worked. If Charlie and the rest of Wilson/Kedley wanted to use this as a marketing strategy there were certain rules that had to followed so that Purina could also be there and the fair board could still advertise it. This taught me a lot about the inside relationships between a company and how money works when dealing with multiple companies on the same sponsorship, especially when considering insurance policies.

During my time in senior college I have focused on numerous animal science classes as well. Working at Wilson/Kedley gave me a chance to use not only what I’d learned from a communications major standpoint but also from animal science. In fact the first night I was here I was so excited I got to watch a C-section performed on a mature cow. In time I would get to give vaccines and keep records that would be given to buyers after their purchase. I also came up with rations and feeding plans with our local Purina dealer.

Although these are only a few of my experiences, I feel my time at Wilson/Kedley was extremely beneficial. Not only did I get to run their social media outlets and promote some of the best cattle you can find but I also learned about business relations and how giving back to people is ultimately the best way to promote a company. I loved my hands on time with the cattle and the chance to apply what I had learned growing up and in animal science. The people amount of people I have met had a huge impact on how I look at the industry and how I will communicate in future employment situations. I’m proud to still be working with Wilson/Kedley on all their social media and marketing needs. I would strongly encourage anyone to take an internship such as this one. It did not apply strictly to just communications but I think that’s what makes it so special, now I can convey what I know about other aspects of the agricultural industry with confidence because I’ve dealt with it firsthand not only on a personal level at home but with a different operation.

Charleston|Orwig – Kate Hagens

This past summer I was hired by the agency, Charleston|Orwig as their social media manager intern in Austin, Texas. They are housed in Wisconsin with over 60 employees, but have their social media office located in Texas.

Charleston|Orwig is agricultural client based agency with their focus on the food system. They serve clients with projects such as integrated marketing plans to reputation management.

The Austin office was made up of three people, including myself. There was constant meetings via Skype and phone with other teams, such as the creative team.

Some of my duties as the social media manager included constant control of the agency’s social media handles, creating and designing posts, recording monthly analytics and creating an online campaign for Charleston|Orwig’s social media.

On a day-to-day basis, I reported to the office at 8:30 a.m. (after siting in morning traffic for 45 minutes to travel 9 miles). When there my routine included morning meetings, updating social media accounts, scheduling posts, blog writing and staying in the know of the latest news and information.

Working in a small office where you didn’t the opportunity to get up and walk down the hall to a meeting or to someone else’s office, I found myself quite restless. I took walks and even sat my laptop on boxes so I was able to stand. It’s something you don’t consider until you work in a one-room office space.

I have had past experience in agricultural writing, farm broadcasting and photography. I wanted to seek agency experience to understand the marketing side of companies. So why did a girl who had the comforts of Kansas ranch life give up her summer for bad traffic and a city known for its weirdness? Because I find it important to learn about personal strength and self-interest.

Where ever life may take you, I encourage everyone at some point and time to try sometime outside of their comfort box. If anything, this internship has prepared me for future employment and taught survival skills. They don’t offer college classes on how to check your oil and being financially independent.

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.

Kansas Department of Agriculture- Jordan Pieschl

During my freshman year, I decided to change my major to Agricultural Communications. Although I knew I was in the right major, I was not quite sure which type of career I actually wanted to pursue. With quite a few ideas running through my head, I talked with an Agricultural Communications graduate who worked with the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA), and she encouraged me to seek an internship that would allow me to start exploring careers.

Fast forward about six months, and I again crossed paths with a graduate working at KDA while attending a career fair. She provided me with an application, and I began a spring internship in January 2013. From day one, the internship was filled with diverse opportunities providing an array of experiences.

I began my role at KDA as the trademark program intern within the Agricultural Marketing, Outreach and Advocacy team. Coincidentally, my first day marked the launch to companies of the new state agricultural trademark program, From the Land of Kansas. This provided the opportunity to help build the trademark program’s strategies from the beginning. At first, my role included recruiting Kansas agribusinesses to the program, helping plan the public launch event, assisting in the creation of the program’s website and researching marketing and business development services that could be offered to member companies.

After a few months, I began managing the program’s social media platforms. I first created a yearlong plan for the program’s use of Facebook and Twitter, and began drafting posts one month at a time. We then expanded the program’s online presence to include a blog, and I wrote blog posts. Personally, although the social media was probably my least favorite role within this internship, it has also been my biggest area of growth. I have learned a lot about the importance of using a variety of media in the posts and being very purposeful about the topic and timing of a post. With an interest in international agriculture, I traveled with the program to the international Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City, and learned about marketing Kansas agricultural products to other countries.

About a year and a half into my internship, I transitioned out of the marketing team and into the executive team. Throughout the summer, one of my favorite projects I have had yet with this internship has involved the 50 Year Vision for the Future of Kansas Water. This project involved traveling around Kansas to seek public input for the draft and preparing to present the final version to the governor.

Something I have really become aware of through this internship is the importance in any business to purposefully build a team. Something that I really admire in my supervisor is her ability to discover talents in people, and place them in a role that really plays to their strengths. It is cool to see the agency tackle some big initiatives and be able to draw from the strengths of the employees within the agency to build successful teams for the different initiatives. Additionally, employees are always so willing to help others with their projects using their specific areas of expertise.

I have also learned the importance of listening to the audience in any project. From a social media standpoint, I was expected to utilize resources such as Facebook Analytics to determine how our messages were best engaging the audience. And, we brainstormed often to determine what kind of messages would be most beneficial for both the companies we worked with and the audience. Similarly, the approach that was taken with the Water Vision was to seek public input so that the document would ultimately be created by Kansans. It was a lot of work to find methods to actively seek that input, organize it, and include it in the draft, but it demonstrated to me how effective it is to follow a strategy that educates consumers and then allows them to have input in a plan that they will be encouraged to follow to conserve our state’s resources. From both of these perspectives, paying attention to the audience was very important.

This internship has provided a good opportunity to try a handful of experiences. I have been really fortunate to work with supervisors who listen if I share what experiences I most enjoy or do not enjoy at all, or what experiences I still wish I could have. It has allowed me to learn about the many careers available within a state agency. It has aided me in discovering what I would like to see in a career, and what I would rather not pursue.

For anyone wanting flexibility to explore different careers in an internship, or who would like a better understanding of how state government works, this is a great option. The agency is conveniently located right next to campus, and internships are offered in the spring, fall and summer. Supervisors are very flexible with class schedules, so it is a great opportunity to intern not only during the summer, but during a semester as well. Applications can be found on the Kansas Department of Agriculture website.

Certified Angus Beef Internship- Meg Drake

This past summer I served as the Industry Information Intern with Certified Angus Beef.  The internship was based out of Manhattan, Kan.

Certified Angus Beef, or CAB, is a not-for-profit organization that is considered a subsidiary of the American Angus Association.  CAB’s operational strategies and various business ventures are multi-faceted.

The company’s main purpose is to promote Angus beef and in turn generate more revenue for its producers.  They approach this operational goal from many different angles and work with different links in the production chain to accomplish their mission.  Not only does CAB license feedlots and restaurants but their marketing department also provides materials to those who wish to advertise the fact that they sell or produce CAB branded meat.

The Industry Information Division works mostly with producers and feedlots.  Their goals are to provide literature and information highlighting or featuring feedlots and producers that have done exceptionally well in terms of producing a high quality and consistent Certified Angus Beef product.

Some of my duties as the Industry Information Intern included meeting with and writing articles featuring producers, industry leaders, and even restaurant chefs.   On a day-to-day basis I was also assigned videos and transcriptions that had to be condensed down to 3-minute excerpts to be featured as “Angus VNRs” or video news releases that were later featured during “The Angus Report.”  I was also allowed the opportunity to record and serve as the voiceover for some of these VNRs.  Other duties included, but were not limited to, constructing news releases for various events, transcribing interviews, writing blog entries, and updating social media sites.

Throughout the duration of my time spent with CAB I not only learned many things about myself as a writer but I gained a better understanding of the value-added beef industry and learned what it was like to be a full-time employee.

Under my supervisor, and Director of the Industry Information Division, Steve Suther, I feel that I was able to advance my writing skills.  As an ex-Kansas State instructor and someone who has worked in the industry as a journalist for many years, Mr. Suther’s edits provided me with insights into style and how to make my writing more effective when trying to reach a specific audience.  I greatly valued his inputs and have kept all of my articles on file for future reference.

Other things I learned while interning with CAB were how to properly write for video broadcast and how to effectively communicate with producers for the purpose of conducting an efficient interview.  It is important when constructing a video script to first captivate audience members then provide information between excerpts as succinctly as possible.  It is also important that excerpts flow and when put together make sense.  In regard to interviewing producers, I learned that it is crucial to prepare ahead of time.  Familiarizing yourself with a producers operation helps when devising effective questions, it also shows he or she that you care about their business.  In many cases they are more open to sharing information with you and are more comfortable around you as an interviewer if you have done your research first.  Credibility is essential as a writer.

Upon completion of my internship experience I was able to discern between what I excelled in and what I didn’t care for as much.  I feel as though I learned a lot about who I am as a person and what kind of career path I’ll be pursuing in the future.

Areas that I enjoyed in particular were the broadcasting and social media components of the internship.  When searching for a job in the future, these two areas are ones that I can list as being comfortable with and proficient in.  I also enjoyed traveling and visiting with cattle producers.  Getting to interact with people that are passionate about the industry is another component I will look for when deciding upon a career.

3i SHOW Internship- Jennifer Ochs

The saying “time flies when you are having fun” is so very true. It seems like yesterday I was moving into the dorms and now I am about to graduate from college. Last spring I realized that I really wanted to get a summer internship to build my agricultural communications skills and prepare myself for the professional world outside of college. I was hoping to find something close to home in Jetmore, Kansas and I knew that there were not many if any established communications internships in the area. So I began to think about what I really wanted to do with my degree and came to the conclusion that I would be best working in advertising, marketing and sales.

Growing up I have always enjoyed attending trade shows, especially farm shows and luck for me one of the largest farm shows in Kansas is a short 30 minute drive from my house and is known as the 3i SHOW. I did some research on the show and then I sent a short email to the 3i SHOW asking if they have ever had a summer intern. I told them I felt it would be highly beneficial to have a summer communications intern to assist in the communications before, during and after the show. They replied shortly after and said that they did not have a program but would forward the email to the president of the 3i SHOW for consideration. A few weeks later I received a call from the 3i SHOW asking me to come in for an interview and to send my resume. The interview was in March and they offered me the position immediately after the interview.

My work at the 3i SHOW was to manage all communications. My duties included writing press releases, designing advertisements, working on the spring and summer WKMA Newsletters, taking pictures, updating Facebook and Twitter, working with logo designs, and sending out email blasts to exhibitors, volunteers and media about upcoming events and news regarding the show. I also spent some time doing general office work when needed.

The most difficult thing about my internship was trying to keep 500 exhibitors happy. Before the show I would assist in helping place last minute exhibitor requests in the available spaces, during the show I would talk to exhibitors about how the show was going for them and try to fix any complaints they may have.

My communications skills have improved because of my experience at the 3i SHOW, and I am now a better agricultural communicator because of this opportunity. I can now write a press release and feel comfortable about my writing, I am more knowledgeable about the Adobe Design Suite, I am more comfortable speaking in public, I enjoy working with social media for a business, and most importantly I am assured that choosing to be an agricultural communicator is what I am best at and what I love to do.

This internship has helped prepare me for my future careers in agricultural communications. Overall this experience has been great, and I am very grateful that they took the chance to hire me as the Communications Intern for the summer. The skills I have gained will be valuable for the rest of my career and the people I met will be great contacts to help me land jobs in the future. While I was not paid for this internship, I was honored to receive the 2013 WKMA Scholarship. I truly enjoyed my time spent at the 3i SHOW, and I would encourage anyone interested in farm shows or communications in southwest Kansas to contact the 3i SHOW for a potential internship opportunity.

DRIVE Livestock Internship- Chelsey Smith

I interned for DRIVE Livestock, a company that was created in 2011. DRIVE recognizes achievement, encourages personal development and educates livestock youth on the opportunities in agriculture through trendy, consistent, accurate and relevant media.

While at DRIVE, I was the social media and events promotions intern. My duties were directly related to DRIVE social media platforms, which drive our content on our website and in our print publication. I created, developed, maintained and managed our social media platforms; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. When the new website was ready for use I started incorporating this social media outlet into my daily routine. The goal for every day was to post on Facebook using an image, tweet about something DRIVE was doing or something related to youth in the stock show industry, as well as post a photo on Instagram. The tough part about creating engagement on our social media outlets is that each outlet reaches or engages with a different demographic audience. In addition to managing our social networking accounts, I was also responsible for formulating and executing contests for our followers to participate in.

Throughout this internship I had an opportunity to learn many skills that I considered to be life essentials that I wasn’t expecting to learn throughout the semester. The work environment at DRIVE was very unique. No one at the company was over the age of 30 and therefore the workplace was very competitive even though no one had to compete for their job to keep it. Working as a team to accomplish a goal for a customer was emphasized but carried out in a unique way.

When I started this internship I was hoping it would help me to determine what I want to do with my future. I do not believe marketing and advertising are in my future, but I have learned a great deal that can be applied to just about any career I may choose. The owner for Encore Visions and DRIVE, Jackie Lackey, made a statement early in my internship, which I had heard before but never fully embraced, “competition is key, life is about whom you know, not what you know.” This internship really taught me that especially in the livestock industry, success is determined from hard work, competition and whom one knows.