Feed The Future Innovation Lab for Applied Wheat Genomics – Malerie Strahm

Have you ever heard of an on-campus job turned internship? When I took a part-time job with the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Applied Wheat Genomics in January 2015, I never would have believed how far it would bring me. What started out as doing odd communications jobs here and there for the lab turned into bigger jobs and some of the best experiences I’ve had so far!

The Innovation Lab for Applied Wheat Genomics is one of four Feed the Future labs housed here at K-State. I was hired to bring a communications aspect to the group and develop social media like some of the other labs had done already. Then, when I talked to my supervisor and academic advisor about doing a full-time internship over the summer, they said ‘Why not?’

Unique is one way to describe my experience. Unlike most internships, it felt more like an entry-level job rather than an internship, as I didn’t have much professional guidance at first. I feel like that really gave me an opportunity to grow by making me reach out beyond the office and figure things out for myself. It was also unique because I was able to work part-time for the new Wheat Genetics Resource Center Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (WGRCI/UCRC). Both Organizations share information and overlap with much of their research.

My main responsibilities for the Innovation Lab included writing press releases, developing print materials and posters, filming a short overview video, maintaining the two lab websites, and developing social media (Facebook and Twitter). For the WGRCI/UCRC I developed and implemented a new logo and color scheme for the organization and designed a poster and flyer to use at events. I also developed a new website using the K-State web server that was easier on the eyes and to navigate.

Seeing the work I’ve done go to places like Washington, DC and receiving emails that my work has been in the hands of people like senator Jerry Moran has definitely been a rewarding and a favorite part of my internship.  Although not having a supervisor well versed in the world of communications was at times a challenge, I know that the experience I gained was valuable.

Much of my work in this internship was design-based because I was given jobs according to my skills and I was able to grow those skills. My future plans include a possible job opportunity connected to this internship that would give me even more experience in graphic design.

As you can see, this internship was a special case but the lab is hiring a new intern for the summer and would like that intern to continue in the fall. I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in general communications because you will do a little bit of everything! You can also tailor it to meet your skill set and interest. To apply, email our program coordinator Haley Ahlers at halhlers@ksu.edu.

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.