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.

 

American Angus Association – Sarah Harris

I interned this summer with the American Angus Association as the communications and public relations intern. The application process was very fast paced and I was not sure what to expect when I got to Saint Joseph for the first day.

The original deadline to apply for this internship was March 1, and though I had thought about applying I did not get an application turned in. Luckily, a few weeks after the deadline Dr. Ellis forwarded an email from Jena McRell at the American Angus Association looking for more applicants for the position. I jumped at the missed opportunity and sent in my resume, cover letter, and two writing samples on March 23. I was amazed to get a reply the next morning — then set up a phone interview for March 25. I traveled to the Association headquarters in Saint Joseph, Missouri for an interview on April 2.

A few days after the interview in Missouri I was offered the position and accepted. A few short weeks later, I packed up and headed to Saint Joseph for the summer. My internship lasted from May 18 to August 13, and was packed with a ton of experiences in a very short time.

Day one I was given a handful of assignments to start working on including putting together a media kit for the National Junior Angus Show, media releases to write and some design projects. It was almost overwhelming. I had never written a news release and I got lost looking for the office where I was conducting an interview; however, I did learn the layout of the Association building very quickly.

The American Angus Association was host to six interns this summer in different areas of focus — The Angus Journal, Angus Genetics Inc., events and activities, and Angus Media. I feel like I had one of the best experiences, as I was able to work in every area rather than just one. Going into the summer I was not sure what I wanted to do with my degree in when I graduate in December, but my experiences with the American Angus Association have given me a better direction.

My favorite part of the summer was by far working with the production team for The Angus Report. I got to experience everything from running the teleprompter to writing scripts for the show. It was very fulfilling to see videos that I had shot and interviews that I had cut be used for an actual television show.

Throughout the duration of my internship there was never a dull moment and the workload never slowed down, which made the summer fly by. The National Junior Angus Show in July was another one of my favorite parts of the experience. A majority of the work I had done in the summer was leading up to the show and it was inspiring to see everything come together. In addition to seeing my designs displayed around the show ring, barns and printed in the show book, I was able to get a years worth of experience in one week. While at the show in Tulsa, Okla., I gained experience with social media coverage, news releases on winners and events, video interviews to be used for The Angus Report television show, photography, and writing personal interest stories.

I would recommend this internship to everyone — especially those who are not sure of what path in communications they want to go down. This internship gives you experience in writing, design, photography, videography and social media management along with a chance to travel to shows, farms and ranches. I learned so much and cannot express how blessed I was to have this experience with the American Angus Association.

Van Wall Group- Brooke Harshaw

I interned at the Van Wall Group Headquarters in Perry, Iowa from July 1 through August 15 of 2014.

I found out about this internship through a friend of my aunt’s. Her husband’s family owns Van Wall, and because I am a John Deere fan in a communications major, she reached out to me about potentially interning there.

I was expected to function as part of the marketing team, which included design work; writing copy for radio, web, and print advertising; coming up with ideas and problem solving for set up/take down for the Farm Progress Show and the Iowa State Fair. I learned that the marketing team does A LOT – from figuring out what we’ll be doing for employee and customer Christmas presents to putting together their Fall Catalog, working on videos, website, and more, they’re involved with just about everything that happens in the business.

Skills-wise, I think my biggest area of improvement was in using the Creative Cloud programs. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t use Photoshop, and most days I used Illustrator and InDesign, too. In other areas, I think my ability to prioritize and be flexible also improved tremendously.

My favorite parts of the internship were when I was doing things like cleaning out the toy trailer and re-organizing it, as well as when I got to see my finished projects! I’m a very hands-on, physically active person, so the few days that I got to go down and work on cleaning out the trailer full of toys, I was a pretty happy camper. However, I also really like to see finished products, therefore when the days when I finished a big or new project that I’d been working on (radio scripts and the Fall Catalog), I was ecstatic. It was really fun learning new things and working with a team that not only took the time to help me, but cared and appreciated my work. As I said before, I really enjoy physical work, so the least favorite part of my internship was sitting at a desk for an extended period of time.

Like most students, I’m not exactly sure where the road of agricultural communications will take me, but I definitely expect to use the CS6 and face-to-face communications skills that I learned from this internship in my future career.

I think this would be an excellent internship for self-motivated students looking to be thrown into the industry. They will need to have the CS6 or Creative Cloud skills to be able to put together a magazine-type publication.  They will also need to be willing to travel to Iowa for the summer.  If you feel like you’re one of those students who is self-motivated, willing to move, and be thrown into the industry, you can apply by emailing my supervisor, Matt Van Houweling at matt.vanhouweling@vanwall.com.

DuPont Pioneer- Marie Annexstad

This summer I worked for DuPont Pioneer as a Marketing Communications intern. My position was located in the Northern Business Unit office which is in Mankato, Minnesota and allowed me to live in my home state for the summer. I started in the middle of May and completed my internship at the end of August.

I found out about this job position through the Kansas State University Career Fair.

An internship’s outcome depends on what you make of the opportunities you have been presented with. When I began this position I had a set of tasks which I had to complete. While I was setting my goals along with my supervisor I asked if she would consider allowing me to take on a standing initiative in the business unit and create a marketing plan for it. She agreed and handed me the reins of the launch of GrowingPoint agronomy in the business unit.

Pioneer’s presence at trade shows provided opportunities to promote GrowingPoint using the already established channels. We ran a strong social media push beginning with our first trade show during the first week in August continuing through our last trade show that ended in the middle of September. Other methods of promotion included print, digital, and radio media. Creating this marketing plan was the favorite part of my internship.

In the beginning, I was immediately put to work on the design and launch of a brand new initiative. This initiative was the creation of digital sell sheets, for our business unit. I found this assignment to be the most difficult part of my internship as a lot of data had to be organized in Excel. I did, however, become proficient in using Excel more efficiently. Sell sheets have links to Pioneer.com product profile pages that display large amounts of agronomic information which assists sales representatives and growers to make informed decisions on the right products for their operations.

Next, it was my responsibility to choose an app which would be the best format to display the sell sheets in.  Through much research I found the app Adobe Reader to be the most useful. I developed and presented a tutorial that would help guide sales representatives step-by-step through the process of how to use sell sheets effectively with customers throughout the business unit.

In addition, I was fortunate to have been given the job of organizing and planning trade shows. During the summer the Northern Business Unit attends four major summer trade shows: Minnesota Farm Fest, Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, Dakota Fest, and Big Iron. Planning of each show included opportunities to lead conference calls with different committees to make sure logistics were in order including graphics, giveaways, landscaping, promotional material, and workers.  Each show hosted a different array of people, and required different tactics to market Pioneer® products. I traveled to and attended all of the trade shows and coordinated Pioneer’s presence at each show on-site.

I enjoyed being given the responsibility to design various graphics to market Pioneer’s new initiatives Pioneer GrowingPoint Agronomy and Encirca Services.

I also assisted with creating materials to help sales representatives with their responsibilities. These included corn and soy print sell sheets, forage print sell sheets, and handouts on various topics. Encirca Services was a new initiative for Pioneer this year, so I created a tutorial for sales representatives to aid them in understanding of the process of how to make an Encirca Note.

My experience with Pioneer as an intern this summer helped me to develop professionally. I was expected to work independently.  As a result I learned to prioritize as I juggled many responsibilities. I learned to communicate efficiently and effectively with my superiors. The work environment was intense and professional. I learned to conduct myself in a similar manner. Overall, this was the best internship experience I have had thus far. I am confident that the after I graduate from college I will be pursuing a career in marketing and communications in a work environment similar to Pioneer.

I recommend this internship to anyone who loves design, event planning, and marketing. It was a great place for me to grow and develop professionally. To apply, visit the DuPont Pioneer Career Development Center.

Kansas Electric Cooperatives- Kennedy St. George

As a second year student at K-State, I never would have guessed that such an incredible experience would have come my way. I had the opportunity to intern with Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., from October 2013 through May of 2014.

Kansas Electric Cooperatives (KEC) is the statewide service organization for the rural electric cooperatives in Kansas. Formed in 1941, KEC represents the interests of our members which includes 29 distributive cooperatives and three generation and transmission electric co-ops. Located in Topeka, I commuted four days a week from Manhattan to be in the office. I also had the opportunity to see different parts of the state and worked from home some days as well.

I heard about the internship possibility after visiting the all university career fair in the fall and was hired on in October, after an internship with the State Fair of Texas. I was drawn to the internship due to the aspect of the magazine that was published and my interest in writing for a publication. Each month KEC and the communications team turns out Kansas Country Living magazine that has a circulation of 122,000 households.

Aside from the magazine, I was guaranteed a well rounded experience and I was not let down by that promise at all. My internship duties included writing for the magazine, as well as the newsletter, Rural Power, photography, and design; however, I got a lot more than that. I also had the opportunity to do event planning, advertisement sales, company representative at career shows and member annual meetings for our cooperatives across the state, interviewer for youth tour participants, and so much more. I had only opened Adobe suit once prior to this experience and now I have it on my personal computer and use it somewhere once a day.

My writings included feature stories, interview recaps, statewide news, legal issues that our members needed to know about, and even monthly book reviews. Each month I had the opportunity to layout and design cooperative specific centerspreads that are inserted into the magazine. I learned the value to deadlines when my direct supervisor was on maternity leave for two magazines!

A photo I took was even used on the cover of February 2014’s magazine! I took a lot of pictures for covers and of events that the cooperatives held across the state for their members. The photos were then used for projects either at KEC for the statewide or within the cooperatives centerspreads. Through my photography, I was able to learn more about Photoshop and had many projects to utilize what I learned. Trying to do a cover of KCL was my favorite thing to do in Photoshop.

I got a well-rounded experience and a lot of pieces to build my portfolio with my time at KEC. I have truly enjoyed the sense of community for the members we work for and this summer I will be headed to Dodge City for the communications specialist intern position with Victory Electric, one of the members that I help now through the state wide.

The professionalism and the skills that I acquired through my internship really set in stone for me that I enjoy working for a publication, working on deadline, and really do enjoy writing as much as I thought I had.

I cannot wait to see where this degree leads me in the future, but for now I couldn’t be more pleased for the opportunities that have been presented to me from the internship with Shana Read, Carrie Kimberlin, and the rest of the staff at Kansas Electric Cooperatives. 

Mid Kansas Cooperative Internship- Calli Mathews

Mid Kansas Cooperative Association is a full-service farm cooperative offering a complete line of supplies and services for both farm and urban customers in 11 counties throughout central Kansas. MKC has a current membership of more than 4,800 members. MKC was founded in 1965 by the merger of three neighboring cooperatives in Moundridge, Buhler, and Groveland. Since its founding, it has grown in size and territory through mergers and acquisitions. More than 200 employees play an important role in the growth and success of MKC. Thirty-four grain locations offer combined elevator space of 29.3 million bushels. Wheat is the major crop grown. Due to the area having a strong aquifer underlying much of its territory, this allows irrigation of corn and soybeans. MKC offers a lot of different services some of which include: Agronomy, Precision Ag, Energy, Feed, Grain, and Financial assistance. I was fortunate enough to have interned for MKC and will be discussing the things that I gained from this experience.

During my internship, I was assigned a lot of different duties. When I first arrived at MKC, my first task was heading the Annual Meeting. Some of my responsibilities involved finding a caterer, photographer, florist, entertainment, and workers to help with registration. The event took place at the State Fair Grounds in Hutchinson, Kansas. We were only allowed 48 hours to set up for the event and a lot of time went into setting up stages, decorations, tables and chairs. During the Annual Meeting, I was responsible for prompting speakers and working with the tech employees.

The answer plot session that MKC provided was an educational tool for the farmers to see the different crop and herbicide varieties that would fit into their crop rotations. My responsibility was to send out the mailings providing the general information about the event. The day of the event I was heading the registration table and overseeing the preparation of the food. Along with this event came customer appreciation meals. After wheat harvest is over MKC puts on meals at the different locations within their territory. Among these, the MKC employees and I would prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for the members and their families. This was an opportunity for MKC to get out among their members and show the appreciation they have for them. This was the most enjoyable part of my internship because I was able to get out and meet the variety of people that MKC provided services to.

I was also involved in heading the community stewardship campaign. MKC was fortunate enough to be in a partnership with Land O Lakes, in which we were able to bid for grants to help out communities in our surrounding area. I was able to meet the different organizations and help make their projects come true. Within the last five years, MKC has been able to donate over $300,000 to different organizations. I was also able to use my dsign skills by heading other campaign projects for Team Marketing Alliance, which was the Grain division for MKC. Coupling that, I brainstormed ideas for the new MKC website and Facebook page. This was something I was apprehensive about, but gained a lot of experience and confidence through working with graphic designers and the tech employees.

I was able to gain a lot of experience by writing for the company website, employee newsletter and the MKC magazine “Connections”. This was a neat aspect of the internship because I was able to interview new people and employees. Also, I got the opportunity to write all of the biographies for the Field Marketers, Certified Energy Specialist and board members. Along with the writing I got a lot of editing experience. MKC invited their employees to write articles for both publications, so with that all of them needed editing.

MKC taught me a lot about how to be confident in myself and take charge in any situation. A lot of that was due to my supervisor who was diagnosed with cancer right before my internship began. I had to hit the ground running the moment I set foot in her office. She gave me the opportunity to step up and use the skills that I obtained in class and put them to work in the real world. I was able to put my public speaking skills to the test when I was asked to give a presentation to the CEO and board members about the new Facebook page I was creating. Overall, I was able to understand the cooperative sector. Before this experience I hadn’t put much thought into what a Coop really was. However, after being so involved with MKC I learned that the cooperative sector is where I would like to stay. At the end of the day, we are there for the farmers and their families and I appreciated the effort that MKC put into satisfying each and every one of them.

Kansas Wheat Internship- Nicole Stieben

Kansas Wheat is the cooperative agreement between the Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers. The Kansas Wheat Commission is an advocacy organization, which is funded by Kansas wheat growers. This group works to secure the future of wheat growth in Kansas through research, education and domestic and international market development. The Kansas Association of Wheat Growers is a member-governed organization responsible for representing wheat growers at a national level by providing grass-roots leadership to the U.S. wheat industry. Together, these two entities work through Kansas Wheat to make sure the importance of wheat is known to not only producers, but consumers and buyers as well.

As the communications intern at Kansas Wheat this summer, I had many daily responsibilities that included updating the computer database for the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, writing press releases on various wheat related issues or events and editing work of other staff members as Kansas Wheat.

I also had a few larger projects that I worked on this summer. From the very start of my internship I was put in charge of making posters, flyers and other forms of publicity for this year’s National Festival of Breads. This baking competition happens every other year and much planning is put into its success, so getting to play a role in this was a great experience. I also did daily harvest reports where I would call around to wheat elevators in Kansas, as well as wheat farmers, to find out the scoop of how their wheat harvest was going. I have previous experience with wheat harvest as I spent many summers working at the elevator in my hometown, so getting to hear from many elevator managers about the progress of harvest in their area was a highlight of this project.

I also had a couple of design projects that were assigned to me during the internship. After the National Festival of Breads was completed, I put together an annual cookbook of the recipes, which was handed out at the State Fair and distributed among nutrition educators around the state. In addition to the cookbook, I was also in charge of putting together the 2011 Kansas Wheat Annual Report. I was challenged with coming up with a fresh design scheme for the report and had fun using techniques I learned from previous experience and my classes at K-State.

During my internship at Kansas Wheat I learned valuable lessons and gained experience that I will use for the rest of my life. The sense of responsibility I was given as an intern helped me the most, as I was given the challenge of meeting deadlines, contacting sources, generating story ideas and being held accountable for my work. I also learned to not be afraid to make mistakes, because in fact that is when you will grow the most.

I have always been a bit reluctant to ask a ton of questions when I’m not sure of what I’m supposed to do. Usually I just try a bunch of different ways until I find something that works for me. But this summer I was faced with deadlines and time constraints that did not allow for this method, so I learned to ask questions and not be afraid of sounding stupid and it turned out to be the best way to show how interested I was in Kansas Wheat as an organization. As soon as I spoke up and voiced my opinion about projects or simple day-to-day tasks, the rest of the staff realized my interest in the success of Kansas Wheat and I was granted more responsibility.