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 Department of Agriculture – Dandi Thomas

This summer I interned at the Kansas Department of Agriculture as a Communications Intern. I was located in Manhattan, Kansas in the Manhattan office, which allowed me to stay in Manhattan for the summer. I started my internship at the beginning of May and am still holding the position.

I learned about this internship through the agricultural communications and journalism listserv and applied through the Governor’s Internship Program at the beginning of May. I applied for the summer internship, but they also have fall and spring internships as well.

Through college I had the opportunity to have several jobs, each one more pertinent to my major than the next. When I applied for this internship, I felt like it could suit me extremely well and get me moving in the direction I wanted to with my career and resume, more so than the campus jobs I had had in the past.

My internship was directly under Megan Macy, the Director of PR for the agency. My duties included graphic design, website design, social media management and content creation, as well as other communication duties.

In the beginning, I was assigned various projects for other departments at KDA and was told to work with their department heads. This proved to be very challenging for me. Though updating the documents and creating their web pages was fairly easy, teaching and helping the other departments about what communications does was very difficult. I found myself having to explain things many times and had to redo several pages because the communication between the department and myself was clouded and unclear. This first few weeks of my internship taught me a very useful lesson about working with people outside of communications, and how to help them create their vision even if they don’t know how to communicate what they want at first. This lesson will forever stay in my mind, helping me be more dynamic in the workplace.

Through the rest of my internship, I was given a few projects but was given the reins to make those projects what I wanted them to be. My passion is graphic design, so most of my projects were focused around becoming a better designer and creating pieces that can be transformed into other multi-media designs.

Another great experience I was able to have with KDA was the gathering of marketing materials for other departments. I was able to set up appointments with animal breeders and shelters across the state, and travel with Megan to take photographs of animals and facilities. This was a good experience to help me strengthen my photography skills and work with others while shooting photos.

To this date, I have created and worked on over 50 projects for the Kansas Department of Agriculture and have enjoyed the experience thoroughly. The networking connections and experiences that I have been able to have through this internship will be exponentially important to my career.

I would recommend this internship to anyone interested in creating great portfolio pieces and gain experience in social media, designing, and marketing.

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.

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.