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 – 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.

National FFA Organization- Logan Britton

6060 FFA Drive. An address I had studied for countless hours as a Greenhand member of my high school’s FFA chapter; I never imagined I would have the opportunity to work in the National FFA Center and have a significant experience.

When the American Agricultural Editors’ Association posting about its two summer internship positions came through the ACJ Listserv, I eagerly completed my application as soon as I saw the marketing communications intern would be placed with the National FFA Organization. The application included listing classes taken, essays with a 75-word or fewer limit, a letter of recommendation and submitting work samples. I received a congratulatory email in late February 2014

From June to mid-August 2014, I interned with the marketing, communications, branding and sales management division of national FFA as a marketing communication intern in Indianapolis. My supervisors included Julie Woodard, communications manager; Kristy Meyer, communications/media manager; Katy Mumaw, senior content writer; and Geoffrey Miller, digital media specialist.

In my role, I was in charge of writing stories to be used in new stories, press releases, social media and the organization’s blog. The publications and correspondence I worked with included FFA.org, FFA Pulse, FFA New Horizons, New Visions and Blue Jackets. Bright Futures! My other responsibilities included editing content. Other projects included developing content for the National FFA Convention & Expo and editing content for the future FFA.org site.

During my tenure in Indiana, I was able to develop a better concept of the organization, the National FFA Foundation and National FFA Alumni Association. I also learned more about myself and my skill set. I enjoy development and copy editing, and I was able to use my knowledge for a majority of my internship. Many staff members from other divisions would send me documents to edit because of the reputation I had created with members of my division. Additionally, I was able to branch out and work on a project with search engine optimization for the Shop FFA website.

My favorite project during the summer was writing an article for FFA New Horizons. Being a former FFA member that eagerly awaited each issue, I was thrilled to have the chance to contribute to the magazine. I ventured to Nashville, Tennessee with division staff to tour Journal Communications, Inc., the publisher that develops the magazine, and meet with their staff. I never imagined I would ever be in the magazine, let alone be a writer. Plus, the editor of the magazine usually critiques all articles during her round of edits. She didn’t have any edits for my article, and she said she really liked it. That made me feel pretty great about myself and my writing.

Being from a small Kansas town, it was difficult for me to adjust to city life. The traffic in Indianapolis and the commute to work were my least favorite things. On average, it would take me about 25 minutes to get to work and 45 minutes to get back. To avoid the traffic, I would go to work around 8:30 a.m. and leave 5:30 p.m. As for the internship, being in charge of my schedule was a challenge for me. I was able to work at my own pace, but I would get assignments done promptly and run out of projects for the week. To combat this, I would ask other staff members in the division if they needed assistance on projects.

Along those lines, being creative in my writing has been a struggle for me. Most of the writing I have experience in is informative and deliberative, such as press releases. My biggest area of growth was finding my creative side. Through projects such as the stories for New Visions, FFA New Horizons and the National FFA Organization blog, I felt more comfortable leaving my habit of the inverted pyramid.

From this experience, I definitely want to incorporate communications in my future roles. I really liked developing stories and writing for New Visions and FFA New Horizons. I also enjoyed writing stories for FFA Pulse and selected photos for the landing pages in the e-newsletter. Even as I pursue advanced degrees in agricultural economics and work toward academia, my hope is to use my knowledge of marketing communications in my teaching, freelance projects or any jobs I have in between now and being a professor. Also, I know that I am a people person. I want to work in an environment where I can collaborate and form relationships with others.
For any student interesting in writing and content development, I would suggest looking for the opportunities with FFA during convention as well as the internships sponsored through AAEA. These experiences will put your skills to the test with real-world situations, strengthen your writing, and create strong portfolio items. Due to funding, the marketing, communications, branding and sales management division does not host an internship every year; however, several internship positions are available during the week of national FFA convention including news room, social media and video internships. The AAEA internship positions are announced usually in December or January. Applications are due mid-February and can be found on AAEA’s website, http://www.ageditors.com.