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.

Huncovsky Marketing Internship- Shelbi Stous

My internship was with Huncovsky Marketing began in September 2012 at the Kansas State Fair taking backdrop and candid photos at the livestock show. The following month, the company hired me again to shoot photos at the Kansas Junior Livestock Show in Wichita.

Huncovsky Marketing is owned by Quint Huncovsky and located in Manhattan. It’s a small business with 2-3 part time employees, and the office is located out of Quint’s home. Huncovsky Marketing is a full-service marketing firm specializing in agricultural products, mainly livestock. Services include email advertising, print media and digital media. Most business comes from cattle sale catalogs, email blasts, advertisement design, sale photos and sale videos.

My role with Huncovsky Marketing varies depending on what needs to be done. During the winter months when ranches are preparing for sales, I help photograph and video the cattle that will be sold. For example, last winter River Creek Farms hired Quint to take the photos and videos for their sale. Quint and I went to the ranch and set up a picture and video pen to shoot in. Each head of cattle is run through the pen individually. Sometimes my job would be to ensure the cattle calmly walked the fence line and then turn them around when they reach the end, or stop in a certain way that makes them look good for the picture. This sounds boring, but it’s actually a very tiring and difficult job. Sometimes there are 100 head of cattle we have to get through in a day, and not all of them cooperate. (I’ve only had to jump up on the fence twice to avoid being ran over by an upset heifer or bull.) Other times, I get to be behind the video camera and shoot the footage of the cattle. There are many details in taking photos and videos to ensure the cattle look their best so they look attractive to the people interested in purchasing them. After the shooting process, the videos need edited and published. Even if I don’t go out to the ranches to shoot, Quint still gives me the videos to edit. Each animal has an individual YouTube video anywhere between 20 seconds and one minute and 30 seconds and includes the ranch’s logo and the lot number for that specific animal.

For sale catalogs, my main responsibility is gathering pedigree information and EPD’s for the cattle. The ranch provides us registration information for each head, and the breed association website provides the individual information for each animal. Each animal that will be sold in the sale will have its own information in the catalog.

I found out about this internship through a friend who had also done some work for Quint. Because I worked hard at the two shows, he continued to ask me to work for him. I am very glad that I was able to work for Huncovsky Marketing because I discovered that livestock marketing is what I want to do in my future. I would like to work for Quint full-time someday, but right now he is not expanding the business enough to hire someone full-time. He hopes to expand in the next three or four years, but he has mentioned eventually bringing me on the team full-time. Not only did I realize that livestock marketing is what I really enjoy doing, but I gained livestock handling skills also. People may be hard to work with, but at least you can verbally tell them what you need them to do and they (should be able to) understand you. With livestock, you can tell them all you want, but they won’t understand. I’ve gained a lot of patience and understanding with these animals, especially cattle. I also learned valuable customer relation skills. Word of mouth is a strong way to gain business, and ranchers like to talk. For example, it’s great to do business with someone such as taking photos for their sale catalog, but if you can actually attend their sale, it shows that you not only care about your business, but you care about their business too. They probably will be happy and impressed that you attended the sale, and might continue to do business with you in the future and recommend you to other ranchers.

Like any industry, the livestock world has its trends. Some trends fade out, and some last for a very long time. After I started working for Quint, I was exposed more to the livestock world. I even got a job at one of the university’s animal units to gain more experience with cattle. I started to see more and more trends and ideas that people had, and could figure out if others were going to follow. There have been good trends and bad ones, but the good ones are really good, and the people who paved the way are greatly benefiting from it. I have learned to not be scared to lead the way in an industry. We shouldn’t be scared to try new ideas because they might take off and become more popular than anyone would have thought. Of course, it’s always good to think an idea through all the way and develop it fully before just throwing it out there.

Overall, my internship with Huncovsky Marketing has been a wonderful experience. I hope to return to Manhattan in a few years and work for him full-time. As much as I complained about the cold, windy and muddy picture pen, I will really miss going out to ranches to take photos and videos this winter!

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.