Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom – Jena Ernsting

Agriculture and children, a combination I never imagined myself being so invested in. Since starting work at the Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom (KFAC) in September 2014, I have grown even more invested in implementing agriculture in the classroom. I was notified of this job position through K-State Career and Employment Services.

KFAC is a non-profit with a mission of “Connecting classrooms to Kansas agriculture.” KFAC provides materials and lesson plans to Kansas teachers, as well as providing educational institutes and credit opportunities for Kansas teachers.

My official job title is correspondence and database manager; however, as I grew to know my position my responsibilities and duties grew with me. What started as imputing donations into the donor database developed into helping create and develop donation campaigns.

From there I was recruited to develop and design brochures, graphics, posters and additional materials. My writing skills were put to use with writing some news releases and a feature article on a Kansas teacher who was using agriculture in their classroom.

I was also recruited to be the face of KFAC during an AGam in Kansas segment focusing on a Kansas teacher that was integrating agriculture in her classroom exceptionally.

Throughout my year and a half at KFAC I realized that accidents happen and mistakes are made. The most important part of any written piece is to check it over and then check it over again. I have also learned that it’s okay to not know how to do something and the time taken to learn something new is valuable in itself.

I have been lucky enough to see where KFAC has been and where it is going. This job has helped me grow into a more professional and allowed me to see how a non-profit works.

Each year KFAC hosts a bookmark art competition for kindergarten to sixth grade students. I love seeing the creativity of the students and gaining an understanding of how young people see agriculture in their everyday lives. This position also allows me to work from my personal computer on design projects, which provides me the opportunity to help create my own schedule.

On the opposite side of things, I have found that although I have found a niche for writing letters asking people for money, that side of a non-profit is not necessarily my favorite.

I believe this internship has provided me a variety of experiences that are applicable in whatever area of communications I end up in. Understanding how to communicate and help distribute information to stakeholders will be valuable wherever I end up.

 

Kansas Department of Agriculture – Audrey Green

Why is there so much construction north of the Kansas State University Campus? What could that new, huge building possibly be? The Kansas Department of Agriculture has relocated to Manhattan, providing new opportunities for Kansas agriculturalists and Kansas State University students.

Spending my time in the innovative new building, the fall and spring semesters of my sophomore year I served as a Kansas Department of Agriculture Communications Intern. This internship came to me by way of Dr. Ellis, an Agriculture Communications professor at Kansas State University. After exhibiting interest in the position and receiving an interview, I began my internship at the beginning of September 2014.

“Back to the basics.” The foundation of this internship was to take the basic skills of communications and polish them. I began writing press releases almost immediately and was given feedback to improve my writing skills. Arriving at KDA, I had very limited knowledge of design software. Now, my design repertoire has grown immensely and I feel comfortable in the Adobe Creative Suite applications.

Playing a key role in the organization of Kansas Agriculture Month was by far my favorite part of this internship. A goal I had set for myself before coming to KDA was to network with as many Agriculture Communicators as possible. Meeting with the Agriculture Communicators and Educators group to plan Kansas Agriculture Month fulfilled that goal. With only a few planning meetings, the diverse group was able to advocate for agriculture throughout the month of March. Some of the highlights included: hosting the Neighbor to Neighbor Food Drive at Dillon’s stores, delivering cookies with customized agriculture statistics to members of the Kansas Legislature, conducting a photography workshop for Kansas agriculture photographers with National Geographic Photographer Jim Richardson and an evening lecture with Jim Richardson that was followed by an in depth agriculture panel.

Planning Kansas Agriculture Month was an eye opening experience. I was able to step into the shoes of an Agriculture Communicator in the real world. Learning responsibility, time management and effective communication, this event helped prepare me a future after graduation.

If I had to choose a least favorite part of my internship at KDA, I would have to rack my brain. Each and every day was filled with new twists and turns, giving a glimpse of what a communications specialist would do. The days I was not as busy, or did not have as many projects to work on, were my least favorite days. In saying that, sometimes a break is nothing to complain about!

Students can be selected for this internship, or other internships at KDA, by applying through the Governor’s Office Internship Program. The program is designed to give high-quality college students real world experience. A link to the program can be found here: https://governor.ks.gov/serving-kansans/internship.

Who would I recommend this internship to? Any student who is passionate about agriculture, driven and willing to put in hard work would be an excellent fit for this position.

KDA has a professional yet fun working environment, and its location is superb for Kansas State University students. Although avoiding the road construction on Manhattan Avenue can be a pain, the valuable experience I received from this internship made the bright orange cones seem much less troublesome.