By Joshua E., Student Ambassador and Summer Intern
Imagine finishing up with semester finals, packing up enough clothes and necessities for three months, and moving half way across the country in just a week. That is exactly what I, an Iowa farm boy, did during the middle of May. Moving to Washington, D.C. to intern with Monsanto Government Affairs was quite the change of pace for me, but it is a pace I have learned to love.
As a child, my dad always taught me the importance of policy and government affairs. Shortly after he graduated college, he decided to run for Congress to make a difference for the individuals in Iowa. Even though he didn’t have the opportunity to serve in the Senate, he shared with me the experiences that he took from that campaign which allowed me to understand that you can make a big impact on many people.
After completing my previous internship with Monsanto in Sales, I was encouraged by many mentors and other employees to try something different, to go for something more challenging. Those words resonated with me as I packed my bags and jumped on a plane to Washington. I am sure I looked like a complete tourist. I grew up outside of a town that had less than 2,800 people, and now I was submerged in a city that has over 655,000 people. Needless to say it was quite a shift!
Going to Capitol Hill
Not only do I get to go to interesting and informative hearings about all facets of agriculture, but I actually get to go to meetings with members of the U. S Congress and their staff. I realize the decisions made here can be just as important to agriculture as the ones made on our farm every planting season. I also witness first hand how Monsanto advocates everyday on policies that support farmers and Monsanto. These policies include tax policy, patent legislation, labeling policy, climate change, and ethanol.
Although I have made the switch from a cornfield to an office, I can see many similarities between this internship and my previous one. I might not be selling bags of corn and soybeans, but in government affairs, we provide ideas and information that can make a positive difference in the daily operations of farmers.
Washington Leadership Conference
The National FFA Organization has been very near to my heart for many years. After serving as the Iowa FFA President, I realized what an impact this organization can make. Towards the beginning of my internship, I had the opportunity to represent Monsanto at the National FFA Washington Leadership Conference. This conference had well over 300 students in attendance. I was able to talk to them about opportunities within Monsanto and how they can use their story to become effective communicators in the agricultural field.
Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture Meeting
I was also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, for the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA) Meeting. This is an annual open meeting attended by 250 people including media and registered attendees. While at this conference, I shadowed two of our state and local government affairs managers while meeting with the Commissioners of Agriculture from the southern region. The meetings started on a Sunday evening with a cook out and laser show at Stone Mountain. For the next two days, each Commissioner of Agriculture presented on his or her state, giving a brief update on current issues, such as the avian bird flu and water challenges. The meeting also included many different guest speakers that talked about the future of agriculture.
The best part of the entire meeting was on Monday evening. The SASDA group traveled to Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, for dinner and batting practice. As a huge baseball fan, this was a dream come true for me! Unfortunately, I didn’t hit any home runs, but this allowed for fun and conversations with the Commissioners of Agriculture.
As you can tell, this summer has already been amazing. This will truly be an experience that I will remember for my entire life. I am excited for my future with Monsanto, and am grateful for the opportunities given to me.