Wilson/Kedley Cattle Company – Deven King

The Best of Both Worlds

I didn’t have the typical internship by any means. In fact the job just kind of fell in my hands when I got the phone call from the Wilsons, however, as the saying goes sometimes the best things in life are unexpected. I spent the summer working for Wilson/Kedley Cattle Company. By far the most beautiful cattle facilities I’d ever seen, a show barn kid like myself would have killed to grow up around an incredible set of cows. It sound like a lot of cattle work doesn’t it? That’s what I thought too, but that isn’t what the owners had in mind. To my surprise I quickly found I would get the opportunity to work with individuals in every aspect of the cattle industry.

Charlie Wilson, Owner, was the one who approached me with the idea. He was aware that I had recently switched majors and transferred to Kansas State. This was exciting for him as he felt my ability to write could be a huge asset for marketing the company and primarily the cattle. I was there to help picture all the cattle and pick the pictures we’d use. I decided which magazines we would advertise with and handled contacting people about designing the ad layouts. With my previous experience with the Black Hawk Livestock judging team, I was the perfect one to write about cattle descriptions and even take phone calls to describe cattle to potential buyers. While this doesn’t sound much more complicated then what your average cattle company sales team would do I got to manage a lot of other things too.

As a way of thanking customers both past and present I got to work on redesigning the company logo and then work with Purina on getting the cost of the hats sponsored. By agreeing to put there logo on the back we worked out a deal where they would pay for a certain percentage of whatever we ordered. While working with Purina on the hat deal I also got them to agree to host a fitting and feeding clinic that we would host at the Wilson facilities. They sent a representative out who discussed feeding techniques and what each product was meant to do while Charlie Wilson went over and displayed how to properly wash, clip, and fit a show animal. The turnout was tremendous. I invited 50 local people through Charlie’s Facebook page I was running, and just over 40 showed up. Once rumor got around about how educational and beneficial the evening was, the local county fair approached me about organizing the event again at the county fair.

This would prove to be a bit more of a challenge. Purina and Charlie agreed to the idea immediately agreed to idea but I would have to battle the hardships of the county fair board and how there sponsorships worked. If Charlie and the rest of Wilson/Kedley wanted to use this as a marketing strategy there were certain rules that had to followed so that Purina could also be there and the fair board could still advertise it. This taught me a lot about the inside relationships between a company and how money works when dealing with multiple companies on the same sponsorship, especially when considering insurance policies.

During my time in senior college I have focused on numerous animal science classes as well. Working at Wilson/Kedley gave me a chance to use not only what I’d learned from a communications major standpoint but also from animal science. In fact the first night I was here I was so excited I got to watch a C-section performed on a mature cow. In time I would get to give vaccines and keep records that would be given to buyers after their purchase. I also came up with rations and feeding plans with our local Purina dealer.

Although these are only a few of my experiences, I feel my time at Wilson/Kedley was extremely beneficial. Not only did I get to run their social media outlets and promote some of the best cattle you can find but I also learned about business relations and how giving back to people is ultimately the best way to promote a company. I loved my hands on time with the cattle and the chance to apply what I had learned growing up and in animal science. The people amount of people I have met had a huge impact on how I look at the industry and how I will communicate in future employment situations. I’m proud to still be working with Wilson/Kedley on all their social media and marketing needs. I would strongly encourage anyone to take an internship such as this one. It did not apply strictly to just communications but I think that’s what makes it so special, now I can convey what I know about other aspects of the agricultural industry with confidence because I’ve dealt with it firsthand not only on a personal level at home but with a different operation.

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.

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.

American Hereford Association- Amanda Sales

It was to be the first real job I’ve ever had, dependent upon using programs I was merely an amateur at. Sounds scary, right? That may be how my summer at the American Hereford Association felt at first, but that isn’t how it ended. I would not have traded my internship experience aboard the staff of Creative Services/Hereford Publications, Inc. for any other summer adventure.

My interning journey began June 2nd and wrapped up August 20th. In those two-and-a-half months, I learned a lot of valuable communication skills, but more importantly, I discovered a lot of insight about my future career plans. Working in Creative Services, I coordinated the creation and production of a wide range of promotional materials and catalogs for cattle (and elk) ranches. This involved using Adobe InDesign for layout and even a little design of my own, communicating preferences with clients, and also using Photoshop and Illustrator to assist in the design. Previous to this summer, I knew just as much about my future career as the next person. Then I fell in love with the kind of work I did and, using my creativity and critical thinking skills, I knew by the end of the summer that this was exactly the line of work I want to pursue.

The biggest personal progress I saw during my adventure was understanding and using the Adobe programs. Without AGCOM210 (Principles of Layout and Design) on my transcript, I wasn’t sure how easily I would adapt. Luckily the tutorials and guided use in our slow periods at work gave me a solid foundation of the Adobe cloud.

Along with the skills attained this summer, there were a lot of exciting events that took place. I really loved traveling to the Junior National Hereford Expo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The purpose of my attendance was labeling photos for the photographer to have them uploaded to the website and ordering shop. Though I worked long hours, it was exhilarating to be around the show atmosphere. I had never attended a national show before, so it was all so new to see the proceedings of the show life. A lot of neat things happened right at our office too. The AHA office is stationed right next to the big convention center in downtown Kansas City, where a lot of things occurred this summer. There was the National Skills USA Competition, Ramadan and President Barack Obama’s arrival, but by far the neatest part was when the American Idol auditions were in town. The day the judges came, our office took the lunch hour to stand outside for the arrival of J-Lo, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. (Look for me on television!)

Even with all of the excitement happening, there were still a few things I would have wanted different. I mentioned earlier my experience pushed me to a conclusion about my future career, though I also want to incorporate more than desk work into my upcoming career. My internship was solely desk and computer work, which doesn’t entirely suit my personality. I want to be out moving around, maybe capturing my own photos for any print work I do in the future.

I am thankful for all the time spent at the Hereford Association this summer and all the staff I worked with and I believe I can owe this whole great opportunity to knowing the right people. My boss for the summer is someone I have known through county 4-H for many years, and she has been giving me helpful tips about Ag Communications since I announced it was my intended study pursuit. She encouraged me to job shadow at the office prior to college, and I did just that. Two summers ago, I went in for a day and met everyone and learned what the office was like. I think it helped tremendously for my internship interview, which was by phone, because they all had a face to put with my name and a previous encounter to judge my assimilation to the office.

If you are looking for an internship that works extensively with design, you are good at communicating ideas with clients, you have a background in the beef industry, and you want to learn a wide variety of basic communication skills, I recommend this internship for you. Be looking out for the application next February!