As my summer as a National Farmers Union (NFU) intern draws to a close, I am struck by how quickly the past few months have flown by and at the amount I have learned in such a short period of time. When I journeyed to Washington, D.C., at the beginning of June, my familiarity with Farmers Union was primarily based on what I learned at the state level, from growing up in the Wisconsin camp program and participating in several state conventions. The leadership and people in my home state served as role models for me through the years and encouraged me to continue down the Farmers Union path. My WFU education served me well this summer, giving me a solid base of knowledge about this organization as I entered a whirlwind of excitement in the D.C. office.
No two days were exactly alike because, in our nation’s capital, life and work are constantly changing. I attended many briefings, hearings and meetings on the Hill and saw firsthand how the national staff works to serve our members. I met with my own congressman and one of my senators and talked with their staff about why I, as a college student not raised on a farm, choose to belong to Farmers Union. I shared many of the issues that are important to us and gained a better understanding of the importance of contacting leadership when you feel a matter is important. My daily tasks involved writing memos and drafting letters, designing documents and brochures, researching legislation, and updating databases…and sometimes that was just Monday and Tuesday! This internship has been a fantastic opportunity because there have been so many different things to try. Some summer highlights include traveling to Bailey, Colorado for the 75th All-States Leadership Camp and donning an enormous bumblebee costume for National Pollinators Week, but my favorite thing was working with the NFU staff. They are incredibly knowledgeable and take our grassroots policy very seriously; I am so grateful for the variety of ways I’ve been able to interact with people in all parts of the office, from communications to education to government relations.
Many people are a little nervous their first day at a new job, and I was no different. When I arrived, however, I was immediately put at ease by the warmth I was shown and how welcoming staff members were. It has been a privilege working here and seeing how much they truly believe in Farmers Union. I found life in D.C. to be energetic and exciting, but going to work was what I looked forward to most each day; I felt that my efforts had the potential to make an impact and really help our organization as we face a world of changing agriculture.
Thank you, Farmers Union, for a wonderful summer.